Planning officers at Shropshire Council have moved to make ‘buyers beware’ as the controversy over The Brambles development in Whitchurch continues.

Residents contacted The Herald stating they had been served with an enforcement notice by Shropshire Council, as well as to complain regarding a perceived stagnation in solving the problems at the development off Chester Road, including a lack of a pumping station for waste.

They have also long complained of completion certificates being issued for the houses, despite a lack of a surfaced road and want Shropshire Council to make the necessary repairs and charge the builders, Sherwood Homes.

The residents have also highlighted the stresses caused by the long-running saga.

However, Ian Kilby, planning services manager at Shropshire Council, insisted the notice has been served to the developers as well and has outlined what his organisation is trying to do to bring this situation to a satisfactory end for all parties. and moved to clarify some of the issues raised.

“I would like to reiterate that the council is sympathetic to the position the residents find themselves in,” he said. “Its focus has been on identifying a solution to issues that involve multiple parties, interests and legislation.

“A Building Control completion certificate is evidence but not conclusive evidence that the works meet the minimum standard for Building Control. It is not a warranty for the work as this would ordinarily be covered by a NHBC, LABC, Premier Guarantee or similar arrangement which a solicitor would ordinarily discuss with purchasers prior to buying a property. Furthermore a Building Control Completion certificate applies to a specific property, not the scheme as a whole.

“In any event, the Building Control regime would not be responsible for the primary issues that remain outstanding, namely the completion of the drainage and roads to adoptable standards as these are subject to separate legislative controls and process under the Water Industries Act (for the adoption of the drainage) and the Highways Act would apply if the roads are to be adopted.

“The developer in this case did not conclude either process to secure the adoption of the drains or road. This is something that should have been identified by conveyancing solicitors acting for purchasers prior to completion of their purchases.

“At a meeting chaired by Owen Paterson MP on February 22 with council officers, local councillors, Welsh Water and representatives for the residents, the point was made that in principle the council could undertake the work on behalf of the residents although it would expect to recover its costs in doing so. Mr Paterson confirmed that the taxpayers of Shropshire as a whole should not be expected to pay for the work.”

Mr Kilby added the council had served an enforcement notice on all parties with an interest in the land, including the developer.

He added: “The trigger for the planning breach was the occupation of the dwellings in that planning conditions required the drainage and roads to be complete prior to first occupation of the dwellings. This is something that again should have been picked up by the conveyancing solicitors acting for the purchasers.

“The lessons in this case are ‘buyer beware’. A property purchase can be the most financially significant decision many of us make. It is particularly important in such circumstances that we are clear what we are buying and that there are remedies in place, to resolve any issues that arise subsequently.

“The Council does not have powers or duties to assist property buyers generally and can only step in where specific legislation is breached for example taking planning enforcement action if there is a breach of planning control. This will usually then involve the new landowners.”

Resident Rob Bailey said the notice had caused unwelcome distress for residents.

“The council have said they will assist the residents but at a cost of nearly £200,000,” he said. “The residents have pleaded with Whitchurch Town Council for support to end the misery, but assistance has been very disappointing. Owen Paterson stated he is fed up with the situation and the residents were to blame buying in the area they did.

“These residents have moved to Whitchurch, investing in this community only to be fleeced because of documentation that should not have been issued allowing access to their first mortgages. The lack of assistance from those who are supposed to safeguard the residents of Whitchurch has been disgusting. It sends out the message clearly: ‘Do not come to Shropshire to invest’.”