Hart District Council maintains that the "use for caravan storage was started without planning permission"
The owner of a caravan storage site between Fleet and Farnborough has reluctantly accepted defeat in her fight to carry on trading.
Hart District Council has ruled the site at Little Bramshot Farm in Cove Road must close by the end of the month after serving the owner with an enforcement notice.
Linda Timms organised two protest rallies though Fleet town centre to highlight her case but has now accepted defeat.
“The council is just waiting for the end of September to turn up because they know I can’t afford the legal fees to fight it,” said Mrs Timms.
“I've still got more than 30 caravans in the field because the owners just cannot find alternative storage as they all have waiting lists.
“All the new homes that are going to be built will only increase the demand.”
Mrs Timms said Hart originally refused permission because the farm lay in the ‘strategic gap’ between Fleet and Farnborough.
Councillors issued a two-year enforcement period as the government had just announced that all local authorities had to devise new planning laws to comply with the new National Planning Policy Framework.
Mrs Timms was told Hart would have its new Local Plan in place within the enforcement period, enabling her to re-apply under the new laws.
But Hart still does not have a plan in place and is having to decide applications based on the existing planning laws.
Mrs Timms said that, in closing the site down, a successful business of more than 11 years’ trading would be lost.
“This action shows that the government’s statements about supporting and encouraging business are not being carried out at local level,” she added.
“It is a case of the council holding all of the power and they know that I cannot afford to challenge them legally.
“To close an existing, successful business with the loss of three jobs does not support Hart’s claim that it is ‘Open for Business’, an initiative they are advertising widely.”
Daryl Phillips, Hart’s corporate director and monitoring officer, said caravan customers were having difficulty finding alternative storage facilities because Mrs Timms left it too late to tell them.
“The use for caravan storage was started without planning permission,” he added.
“The council has always made it clear that the use must stop and at each stage it has explained why.
“Since 2009 there have been two unsuccessful planning applications, various full and lengthy debates in public, two unsuccessful planning appeals to the secretary of state, and we have also given a further period of grace.
“At no time has the council ever given any indication of any likelihood of change of policy and indeed, in its current Local Plan core strategy no policy change is proposed.”
Mr Phillips said the secretary of state’s appeal decisions in 2010 and 2011 highlighted the unacceptably intrusive nature of the site.
“It is now time for this unauthorised use to stop otherwise the message to the wider community is that it is alright to flout planning law, have planning applications refused, but yet do nothing about it,” added Mr Phillips.