A sports venue has been left facing a massive clearance bill and a planning headache after a rogue builder dumped tonnes of chalk on its car park.
Brighton Footgolf, based at the Benfield Valley Golf Course, agreed to allow the builder to use part of its car park to store and bag up the chalk.
But after dumping several tonnes, the builder disappeared.
The venue attempted to make the best of a bad situation by using the chalk to create a boundary around the car park.
But this landed it in hot water with the council, which issued a planning enforcement notice requiring it to remove the dumped material.
A planning application for the boundary has now been submitted and the Environment Agency is investigating the fly-tipping.
General manager Richard Philp said: “It was only meant to be there for a few weeks. We were told that as lorries were taking it in, they would be taking it out.
But after about four to six weeks, none of it had been removed and alarm bells started ringing.
“We tried to see if we could reverse it by creating bunds around the car park.
“We are now in negotiations with the council.
The guy who arranged it all sold us a story and was very convincing and said he was very close to the council.
“Hindsight is obviously a great thing.
“It’s a real shame we thought we were helping and it had seemed fine to start with but it quickly snowballed into a complete nightmare.”
The enforcement notice also requires the venue to restore vegetation lost from what it says is the extension of the car park.
But in the planning application, aerial shots show it hasn’t been extended that much, but had become overgrown in recent years.
However, the chalk is not popular with some residents, who have objected to the planning application.
Among them is Hangleton ward councillor Nick Lewry, who said: “The site is a nature reserve and should not be used as a dumping group for building materials.
“If the chalk is not required as building material, it should be removed from the site to keep the site in proper order.”
One resident, whose name has been redacted from the council website, said: “This application is a very thinly veiled attempt to wriggle out of the removal of the chalk waste which was originally due to be stored only temporarily.
“Hangleton Valley should not be expected to put up with this monstrosity just because Footgolf made a poor business decision and got caught out.
“It is visible for miles around, and looms over the properties in Hangleton Valley Drive like a Welsh mining slag heap.”
An Environment Agency spokesperson said: “We can confirm we are investigating. We can’t comment any further at this time.
“Anyone who suspects large-scale fly-tipping can report it to us on our free, 24-hour incident hotline: 0800 807060.”
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