Ex-councillor ordered to undo unauthorised green belt building works

Alby Tebbutt and his unauthorised development

Former Conservative councillor Alby Tebbutt has been issued with two notices by Havering Council over unauthorised green belt developments. - Credit: Archant

The former chairman of Havering’s planning committee has been served with an enforcement notice for unlawfully developing green belt land with special protected status. 

Ex-Conservative councillor Alby Tebbutt has been ordered to undo building work carried out near Paige’s Wood in Upminster. 

Two documents published by Havering Council accused Mr Tebbutt of breaching planning permission and carrying out unauthorised works. 

One said works had taken place within a protected “site of importance for nature conservation”. 

The council concluded that “significant harm” had been caused. 

The Romford Recorder revealed in June that Mr Tebbutt was under investigation following a complaint by Forestry England. 

The body reported Mr Tebbutt to Havering after a walker informed it that he had begun building an access road on green land that led to the woodland. 

Mr Tebbutt told the Recorder that the matter was now “in the hands of top lawyers and barristers in London.” 

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“The council will have to deal with them,” he said. “I’ve had enough of them.” 

Breach of conditions 

In 2017, Mr Tebbutt was granted planning permission to demolish White Bungalow, off the A127, and build a new home. 

The permission came with 21 conditions. 

But a “Breach of Condition Notice” published by Havering last week alleged Mr Tebbutt had breached 10 of them. 

They included conditions which said no works should commence until he had checked for protected species, tested for contamination and submitted plans and gained approval for an access road. 

The notice ordered him to “cease all operations on site” until the conditions were met. 

“There is no right of appeal,” it added. 

Alby Tebbutt's unauthorised green belt development in Upminster

Mr Tebbutt claimed he had no choice but to commence works in breach of conditions, as council delays meant he was at risk of losing his planning permission. - Credit: Archant

The defence 

Mr Tebbutt told the Recorder that he accepted breaching the conditions, but claimed it was Havering Council’s fault. 

He said he had submitted all the paperwork regarding the conditions approximately a year ago but Havering had not dealt with it. 

“They have dragged their feet,” he said. “They have not processed them in the time they should have done. 

“It’s not their fault. It could be as a result of Covid-19. They have probably got their hands full. But it’s not fair.” 

White Bungalow near Pages Wood in Upminster

Alby Tebbutt has planning permission to demolish the dilapidated White Bungalow, near Pages Wood in Upminster, and build a new home. - Credit: Archant

Mr Tebbutt said the planning permission for his site would have expired if he did not commence works, so he was forced to start before the conditions had been signed off. 

“I accept that by doing some work I am in contravention of the conditions,” he said. 

“I accept that. But I had no choice because if I hadn’t done that then my planning permission would have expired. That’s common sense. That’s reasonable, isn’t it?” 

Enforcement notice 

A second document – an enforcement notice – said Mr Tebbutt had laid a hard surface without planning permission, “for the creation of a road”. 

Havering Council said the road would “hinder the safe access and operation of Paige’s Wood”, which would “impact the existing uses, including recreation, within the Metropolitan Green Belt and the Thames Chase Community Forest”. 

Mr Tebbutt was ordered to “remove all of the hard surfacing and associated development” and “reinstate the land as to how it was”. 

He was given until October 24 to comply but can appeal. 

A new access road near Pages Wood, under investigation by Havering Council.

The investigation was launched after government body Forestry England contacted Havering Council about the construction of an access road near Pages Wood. - Credit: Archant

Mr Tebbutt claimed ownership of the strip of land where the road was being built was in dispute and that he had turned all of his paperwork over to lawyers, so they could settle the issue with Havering and Forestry England. 

Good intentions 

“All I want to do is turn it from an overgrown mess into something decent,” said Mr Tebbutt. “It’s all overgrown with weeds and stinging nettles and brambles. 

“I want to work with the council and Forestry England to improve the area and build a bungalow to live in. I haven’t got many years left. 

“When I’ve finished, I will have put in place one of the best places in Havering – and then I will be dead. And what will be left behind? A beautiful place. I want to make it a place that Forestry England and Havering can be proud of.” 

Former Havering councillor Alby Tebbutt

Former planning chairman Alby Tebbutt said he believed his development would enhance the area, not damage it. - Credit: Archant

A Havering Council spokesperson said: “The council has listened to local residents and acted on those concerns. 

“It is another prime example of why anyone wishing to develop land should work with the council, to make sure that they have the correct consent for what they want to build and also that they follow all conditions attached to any permission granted."

For more, read:

Ex-councillor under investigation over green belt building works