Graham Wildin to serve jail term for contempt of court in long-standing planning enforcement case
Today (Friday 12 August 2022), Graham Wildin has been committed to prison for six weeks for contempt of court as a result following a case brought against him by Forest of Dean District Council. He was taken to prison directly from court.
Cllr Paul Hiett, Deputy Leader of the Council said,
“The enforcement case against Mr Wildin has been a long and complex road. In what should have been a completely avoidable situation, Mr Wildin has continually ignored planning law and policies that are there to protect local communities.
“The law is the law and we won’t give up pursuing Mr Wildin and ensuring that he complies with the legislation in exactly the same way as everyone else.
“As a Council it is important to ensure that development proposals improve the environments in which they exist, whilst safeguarding the community. Every year, hundreds of people ask the Council for planning advice and follow it. This has not been the case in Mr Wildin’s instance.
“I would like to, again, thank the people of the Forest for their patience and the tenacity of the Council’s staff who continue to push this case forward.
“To protect local communities from behaviour like we’ve seen in this case, we will continue to pursue those that ignore planning policy using the routes set out in law.”
Following a series of warnings, in November 2018 the Council obtained an injunction against Mr Wildin and he had until 25th April 2020 to demolish a leisure building he built, (excluding the substantial retaining wall) in 2014 without planning permission.
In committal proceedings brought by Forest of Dean District Council in June 2021, Mr Wildin was found in contempt of court for non-compliance with the injunction. This required Mr Wildin to soft strip and decommission services to the building, with the judge sentencing Mr Wildin to six weeks imprisonment suspended for 12 months, on the condition that the building be permanently stripped and decommissioned within 18 weeks.
Mr Wildin subsequently appealed the decision, on the grounds that the Council gave no evidence of costs set out for the works to be completed and that 18 weeks was not an adequate time period to carry out the works.
The appeal was heard at the Court of Appeal in the Royal Courts of Justice in London before Lady Justice Elisabeth Laing and Lord Justice Edis on 28 September 2021. Submissions were made by Mr Charles Auld for Mr Wildin and Mr Stephen Whale for the Council. Judgement was suspended and handed down on Thursday 4 November.
The appeal was dismissed, and Mr Wildin was given until 10 March 2022 to comply with the Order to complete the required work to avoid prison.
The Council has been awarded substantial costs a number of times throughout the process. Mr Wildin will still be required to remove the building once he has served his sentence.