A WORDSLEY couple have been ordered to pay £6,515 in fines and costs for failing to comply with an enforcement notice after extending their garden into a strip of neighbouring green belt land without permission.

Andrew and Nicola Hill, of Pineways, bought a plot of woodland next to their property in January 2015 - following which protected trees were removed to extend the couple’s garden and provide a patio area - accessed by a new stairway.

Stourbridge News: Work shown on Google Street View at the property in Pineways in August 2022 Work shown on Google Street View at the property in Pineways in August 2022 (Image: Google Street View)

The land was part of a strip of green belt, protected by a Tree Preservation Order, and acted as an important buffer between Dudley and South Staffordshire.

The Hills were served with a planning enforcement notice by South Staffordshire Council on March 29, 2022, ordering removal of walls, pillars, steps and a patio area that had been built on the land, plus wooden planters, after unauthorised development was noted.

Stourbridge News: Some of the building works at 20 PinewaysSome of the building works at 20 Pineways (Image: South Staffordshire Council)

The couple failed to comply with the notice, however, and the case was brought before Cannock Magistrates Court for sentencing on March 11 after guilty pleas were entered.

Mr Hill had previously been convicted at Newcastle-under-Lyme Magistrates County Court in December 2021 for the unauthorised removal of the protected trees from the land in question.

He had appealed the Tree Replacement Notice, served by South Staffordshire Council, but his appeal was dismissed by the Planning Inspectorate in March 2023.

Mrs and Mrs Hill, both aged 50, were fined a total of £2,250 for failure to comply with the enforcement notice and ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £900 and £3,365 costs – a total of £6,515.

District Judge Ian Barnes, at Cannock Magistrates Court, said in his sentencing summary: “Planning rules are in place for a number for reasons; to protect environment and habitat.

Stourbridge News: The work to remove trees and build a patio could be seen from Google EarthThe work to remove trees and build a patio could be seen from Google Earth (Image: Google Earth)

"Your intention in removing the trees was to develop the land. It was your responsibility to ensure that what you were doing was lawful.”

The Hills will have to remove the unauthorised development from the land and comply with the tree replanting notice or face further prosecution at court.

Councillor Victoria Wilson, South Staffordshire cabinet member for business enterprise and community infrastructure, said: “The council is committed to protecting our environment and will use the full force of the law, where necessary.

“This prosecution serves as a reminder of the importance of complying with planning regulations and checking with your local council if you are unsure if trees are protected by a tree preservation order before carrying out any work on them.

"Failure to comply with an enforcement notice can lead to a costly day in court.”