Jamie Fuller, 33, thought he had all the permissions he needed to top 5,000 tonnes of hardcore on a field but didn’t realise he needed to submit a planning application as he faces an £85,000 bill to remove the scaffolding yard
Image: John Myers)
A dad is facing bankruptcy after mistakenly building a scaffolding yard without planning permission.
Jamie Fuller thought he had all the permissions he needed to top 5,000 tonnes of hardcore on a field.
The 33-year-old father of three didn’t know he needed the submit a planning application.
Now Jamie, from Llanelli, Wales, faces an £85,000 bill after being ordered to remove the scaffolding yard, WalesOnline reports.
He says he has already spent around £30,000 on the project and believes bankruptcy is likely.
Jamie said: “I’m gutted. It’s jeopardised the future of my three children. I want to give them the best possible life I can. This will leave me having to sign on.
“I feel I will be stuck in a council house for the rest of my life and I’m going to be left with nothing. For four years I built up my scaffolding business, working long hours and weekends. I feel like it was all for nothing.”
Jamie, who employs two scaffolders, bought the disused land from his grandfather Gerald in June 2020 as a base for his business.
He said: “I thought it’s paid for, it’s mine, nobody can tell me what to do and I’ve no worry of having to leave.
“It was great. My plan was to build a house there in the future. That was my dream.
“The original access point to the site was the same one for my grandfather’s house. I didn’t want to cause him problems or depreciate the value of his property by sharing access, so I created a new access point.”
Jamie applied to Natural Resources Wales (NRW) for the right to tip hardcore to level the field, which he described as a “flytipping hotspot” disused for decades.
He said: “The land had been all overgrown and I cut it back. It was a bog, a hell of a mess, with a bit of a stream going down the side. There were tyres and fridges and dead animals and rats. You name it, it was there. I must have taken 100 dumped tyres away.”
NRW granted an exemption for the dad to use waste materials in construction.
He started tipping hardcore and rubble to build a driveway and hardstanding for the scaffolding yard, with a layer of crushed stone on top to make it “tidy”.
In September 2020, the access was in place but Jamie was still laying the yard’s surface.
He says he was then visited by representatives of Carmarthenshire Council and NRW.
He said: “It panicked me a bit. They were saying their biggest concern was the access. I asked what I needed to do. They said I needed planning permission for access but didn’t mention anything about [tipping for the surface of the yard].
“I had lorries coming in and tipping rubble at the time. They could see we were tipping that day and didn’t say anything about it. There was no stop notice for the tipping.”
He put in a retrospective planning application for the access but says he did not hear from the council until March 2021 telling him he had to block the access, remove the scaffolding and get rid of everything else.
Jamie appealed but it was rejected.
He said: “The price to remove all the hardcore will be around £85,000. Firms are afraid of damaging the road so I’m struggling to find anyone to remove it.
“The planning inspectorate has said it can’t take personal circumstances into consideration because I’ve broken planning law which I didn’t know about. I’m worried I’m going to have bailiffs on my door. If it comes to it I’m going to have to sell all my equipment to pay for removal.”
He is now worried about how this affects the future of his children, eight-year-old Jake, four-year-old Thea and two-year-old Indi.
The planning inspectorate explained its decision to reject Jamie’s appeal, writing in its report that the development has “significantly altered and harmed the rural character and appearance of the immediate area”.
The report also raises safety concerns. It says the access is not perpendicular to the main road, adding: “The visibility in both directions from the access is restricted and it is likely that vehicles exiting the site would have to edge out onto the highway to gain visibility.”
NRW confirmed its waste regulation team had been in regular contact with Jamie “up to the work becoming a planning issue” which was then led by the council.
Senior waste regulation officer David Ellar said: “Mr Fuller did not have a permit for this work, he had registered an exemption with NRW.
“Exemptions are for low-risk waste operations that are exempt from needing an environmental permit but still require the holder to operate within specified limits and conditions. Registering an exemption does not remove the need to apply for other permits or permissions. Waste exemptions must be registered with us before the activity commences.
“We de-registered Mr Fuller’s exemption when planning permission was refused by the planning authority at Carmarthenshire Council as the activity was not authorised.”
A council spokeswoman added: “Before anyone starts a development of any type we strongly recommend that they contact the local planning authority so that they can be advised of what permissions may be required. Having a permit from another body for depositing waste materials on a site does not constitute planning permission.”