Enforcement action taken after people found living in 'cramped' caravans in metal firm's yard
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Havering Council has launched enforcement action after people were found to be living in “cramped and poor quality” caravans in a yard belonging to a scrap metal firm in Romford.
Officials ordered the removal of three caravans from 143 Crow Lane – which Land Registry records show has been owned by the family behind Crow Metals since 1988.
The firm has two premises on the road - one at the junction of Crow Lane and Jutsums Lane, the other at 143 Crow Lane.
After previously being used as a scrap metal recycling centre, Havering Council approved a change-of-use application from Crow Metals in 2012, designating 143 Crow Lane for business, storage and distribution.
But planning inspectors recently discovered people living there in caravans deemed “unsatisfactory for occupation” due to “cramped living conditions”.
An enforcement notice, published on the council website, said the caravans’ “poor design” and location meant living there, even temporarily, was “to the detriment” of the inhabitants.
“The dwellings fail to demonstrate an acceptable living environment for current or future occupants,” it said, as they did not meet minimum living standards.
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Havering Council said it had initially investigated whether the occupants could be modern slaves, but found no evidence they were.
“Our initial visit found occupied caravans on the site, but further investigation showed no signs that the occupants were there against their will and no evidence of modern slavery practices taking place,” said a council statement.
“The caravans were installed without planning permission, so we have issued an enforcement notice for their removal.”
The notice said the caravans also had a “materially harmful and detrimental impact” on neighbouring homes.
The enforcement notice orders Crow Metals to “cease the use of the land... as three dwellings or for any overnight residential use”.
It also demands removal of "all fixtures, fittings, residential paraphernalia and cooking amenities”.
The firm has until July 29 to comply with the instructions, unless it appeals against the enforcement action.
The Recorder approached Crow Metals for comment but received no response.
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