To receive questions or statements from the public.
In his capacity as a resident of Edgeley Park, Farley Green, Mr Bob Hughes (County Councillor for the Shere Division) asked the Lead Councillor for Environment, Councillor James Steel, the question set out below. Councillor Steel’s response to each element of the question is set out in red type below.
“In relation to Edgeley Park in Farley Green, where I own a lodge, but I am not affected by any of the current problems,to ask the Lead Councillor for Environment,
In the long history of Edgeley Park being licensed for recreational use, is the Council satisfied that the requirements of the current licenses and planning consents issued by Guildford Borough Council are being observed?
Thank you for your questions about Edgeley Park which I know other residents and you have recently raised with Council Officers. The Council is satisfied that the site is correctly licensed as a recreational caravan site and monitoring visits have been conducted to ensure compliance with site conditions, including that occupiers have alternative addresses.
The most recent planning enforcement case, which was an allegation that the site was being used as a primary residence in breach of the planning condition, was closed in 2017 after there was no evidence of any breach of planning control. The Manager of the Park was contacted and provided the Council with a substantial amount of evidence to suggest that the management company, Haulfryn, take the matter seriously and do as much as possible to ensure that the requirements of the condition, and the terms of their site licence, are met. The case officer also visited the site and inspected the database of lodge owners' documents confirming their alternative primary residence.
After I made the Council aware of the imminent change in ownership of Edgeley Park to a new company Haulfryn Ltd on 16th May, what actions and due diligence has the Council undertaken in relation to the new company? Have site licenses Nos: 2450 and 963 now been transferred to Haulfryn Limited?
At this time, we do not have a site transfer request and it is the company’s duty to advise the Council of these changes.
Has the Council consulted Albury Parish Council about this change of ownership in light of the many complaints made to them about the running of Edgeley Park?
There is no duty to consult on change of ownership applications at this or other sites.
Is the Council aware that during the last 2 years there have been over one hundred notices issued by Haulfryn companies’ alleging breaches and threatening eviction, and that these notices have no basis in law? Is the Council also aware that many of these notices have been issued to owners who are elderly and vulnerable?
I am aware that you discussed this matter at your recent meeting with officers. The Council is aware of letters being sent to residents about compliance with site licence conditions. Investigations have shown that eviction notices and notice periods were all correct and we have not identified any illegal evictions at this time.
Is the Council aware that residential occupation of Edgeley Park commenced in 1990 and continues to this day, with many owners being residential for more than ten years, thereby being immune from planning enforcement? Further, has the Council noted that many owners are resident on Edgeley Park because Haulfryn Group led them to believe that it was open to them to live there, and were further told that they were paying Council Tax through the Haulfryn Group?
As described above from a planning enforcement perspective, we have yet to receive any actual evidence, other than allegations, of a breach of the planning condition. Please report any complaints of mis-selling to Trading Standards who are already investigating these allegations.
Has the Council noted the evidence that Haulfryn Ltd are still advising buyers that they can live at Edgeley Park, and are facing many accusations of mis-selling?
Any complaints about mis-selling need to be passed to Surrey County Council Trading Standards who enforce this area of legislation. Officers have advised that they are in liaison with Trading Standards who are already investigating these allegations.
Given that the Council have a duty of care to the owners and the residents of Edgeley Park, many of whom are elderly and vulnerable, what representations have the Council made to the Haulfryn companies to seek to resolve these problems and to find an acceptable way forward that is humane, decent and legal?
The Council has investigated multiple complaints about compliance with the recreational caravan site licence conditions and to date our investigations have identified no illegal evictions and there are no open cases. During your recent meeting, officers made an offer to review any new evidence concerning breach of caravan site licensing or planning controls. This offer remains and please forward to officers if you wish any new matters to be investigated.
The Lead Councillor was asked the following supplementary question:
(a) With reference to the statement in the answer that “The case officer also visited the site and inspected the database of lodge owners' documents confirming their alternative primary residence” is the Lead Councillor aware that some people have never been asked for documents and many of the people have only been asked to show a driving licence?
(b) With reference to the statement in the answer that the Council had yet to receive any actual evidence of a breach of planning condition, is the Lead Councillor aware that the residents of Edgeley Park have produced evidence, and that it might be useful to talk to them directly about it?
(c) With reference to the statement in the answer that the Council did not have a site transfer request following the change in ownership of Edgeley Park to a new company (Haulfryn Ltd), could the Lead Councillor comment as to why there had been no request to Haulfryn to fulfil their part of the licence requiring them to inform the Council, which must constitute a breach of the licence?
(d) Could the Lead Councillor clarify the status of the site and confirm whether, in planning law, there was no distinction between a holiday or seasonal use and a permanent residential use as a caravan site?
In response, the Lead Councillor reiterated that officers would be happy to receive any further evidence that Edgeley Park residents would like to submit, and this would be considered within the parameters of the existing licence provisions.