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Landowner ordered to stop digging field

PUBLISHED: 09:23 27 June 2006 | UPDATED: 11:06 22 October 2010

The son of a Norfolk lord is heading for another clash with the authorities after being ordered to stop digging up a picturesque former golf practice course on the edge of Cromer.

The son of a Norfolk lord is heading for another clash with the authorities after being ordered to stop digging up a picturesque former golf practice course on the edge of Cromer.

Robert Harbord-Hamond has been served with a stop notice after trenches were dug, piles of soil dumped and earth embankments constructed on the field at Overstrand Road.

If he does not comply, the son of Lord Suffield could be committing a criminal offence carrying a maximum £20,000 fine.

Enforcement officers at North Norfolk District Council are now asking him what he is planning to do to the land, which is an area of outstanding natural beauty and is in his ownership.

And, depending on the answer, he could be ordered to restore it to its former condition.

Senior planning enforcement officer Robert Brodie said the stop notice was in force until July 21.

He said “local residents” had informed the council of the work, and added: “We know what he's physically doing but want to know why. Depending on that, we may have to take it to committee for an enforcement notice to have it restored to its former condition.”

The work at the field, which was used by Royal Cromer Golf Club as a practice area until recently, has angered residents.

John Eastbury, from Hillside, said: “It's awful. It looks like a moon landscape. It was a lovely site that has been turned into a horrible mess.”

A woman from Lynewood Road, who did not wish to be named, said: “I and many others regularly walked our dogs round the perimeter, enjoying the peace and beauty of the surroundings.

“Children loved to hunt for wildlife in the two ponds and pick flowers and grasses from the great variety round the verge.

“It now looks an appalling sight of yellow grass and piles of earth on the field with a heap of old wood in the middle.”

Mr Harbord-Hamond, who could not be contacted last night, is currently at the centre of a bitter dispute over the ownership of 35 acres of common land in Hanworth, near Cromer.

He fenced off the land saying it belonged to him - an assertion disputed by villagers who also claim ownership. The row is due to go to Norwich County Court in the autumn.

In 2004, Mr Harbord-Hamond was refused permission for a development of more than 60 affordable homes on the Overstrand Road site in Cromer.

Previously, he unveiled plans for a £30m, 150-berth marina on the beach at Cromer, beneath the clifftop golf course. But he said he would only progress the plan if the Overstrand Road housing scheme was given permission.

Last month, the landowner's latest run in with officials ended in victory when a court case accusing him of illegally damaging protected trees was thrown out.

The council failed to prove that Mr Harbord-Hamond owned the land at Harbord House on Overstrand Road, Cromer, on May 26 last year - the date when officers discovered the trees had been damaged.


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