CHESHIRE East Council has secured a High Court order forcing several families to remove their caravans from a green belt site in Mobberley.

Michael Maloney and members of his family moved onto the site, off Broadoak Lane, without planning permission last August following an arson attack at their previous home four months earlier.

He submitted a retrospective planning application to CEC for three gipsy pitches on the agricultural site, but three days later council officers found six caravans on the site and development work taking place, while neighbouring residents also observed diggers and wagons on-site.

The council obtained an interim injunction from the High Court to prevent further work and additional caravans or materials moving onto the site.

But despite the order, work carried on and additional caravans moved onto the land.

Now, the High Court in Manchester has granted a final injunction restraining further development on site and limiting the number of caravans to eight, pending the outcome of a planning appeal.

Ten allegations of contempt of court against Mr Maloney were proven, following breaches of the original court order, and he will be sentenced at a later date.

Cllr Charlotte Leach, CEC member for Mobberley, told the Guardian: "I am very pleased with this outcome, although disappointed that Mr Maloney has not yet been sentenced for what has been a continuous and flagrant disregard for the law.

Knutsford Guardian:

"I recognise that there is a considerable road ahead of us in working to put the land back to its rightful condition and I will continue to do everything in my power to see that this is achieved as soon as possible.

"I want to thank every resident who took the time to send me evidence of the breaches of the High Court order as this gave us a watertight case.

"I would also like to thank the CEC legal and enforcement teams who have worked tirelessly on this case."

The council commenced proceedings for contempt of court against several defendants who were involved in the breaches last year, including Mr Maloney.

Following a three-day trial, the High Court's final injunction prevents further development on-site and limits the number of caravans to eight, pending the outcome of a planning appeal.

Admissions of contempt were made along with apologies to the court by contractors W Doherty and Sons, Total Plant Hire, Paul Rennie and Adrian Draper – and these parties all agreed to contribute towards council costs.

In passing judgement, The Honourable Mr Justice Turner QC said there was a strong public interest in ensuring orders of the court are obeyed.

He also found Mr Maloney’s evidence in defence of the allegations of contempt 'unsatisfactory in several respects'.

Cllr Toni Fox, CEC cabinet member for planning, said: “I am extremely pleased with the outcome of the trial and the decisive way the judge has reached his verdict on both the contempt of court but also his conclusion to grant the final injunction.

Knutsford Guardian:

“Council officers responded quickly to local residents concerns in August in securing the injunction. Since then officers have worked tirelessly to prepare the legal case against the defendants, which has now been rewarded.

"It also provides some degree of comfort for local residents that the legal process cannot just be ignored.”

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The Broadoak Lane site remains subject to separate planning enforcement action, with an appeal hearing to be set by the Planning Inspectorate.

CEC rejected Mr Maloney's retrospective planning application last December.