FENLAND: Council accused of double standards over temporary buildings
A COUNCIL was accused this week of double standards after threatening to prosecute the owners of a March cycle shop for not removing a two-storey portable office and storage building. Ken Elener, the agent for Dennis and Penny Hicks, accused Fenland Cou
A COUNCIL was accused this week of "double standards" after threatening to prosecute the owners of a March cycle shop for not removing a two-storey portable office and storage building.
Ken Elener, the agent for Dennis and Penny Hicks, accused Fenland Council of "positively discriminating in favour of the public sector and adversely against the private sector applicant."
His comments came after Mr and Mrs were forced to delay replacing temporary buildings with more permanent accommodation after fearing a down turn in trade.
With a promised Argos due at some time, Halford's now open, and an enlarged Tesco at Hostmoor possibly going to sell cycles, the couple felt "these impending arrivals further dent the confidence of the small trader to invest."
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Mr Elener believes that the Hicks - who run Bikecare in The Avenue- should be allowed to continue to use their existing buildings "which are inherently stronger and more durable than other temporary buildings such as those used by local authorities, including Fenland District Council."
He added: "The buildings are of a superior quality compared to other temporary structures accepted by the local planning authority. Upon perusal of other sites within the March Town boundaries it appears Fenland Council operates a planning system with double standards."
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He said that two mobile offices were in use at Fenland Hall itself for eight years "and the last consent was in direct conflict with the recommendation of the planning committee."
He also claimed the Maple Grove Community Group and March Evangelical Groups had both enjoyed temporary consents and for longer periods.
Mr and Mrs Hicks said they needed extra office and storage space on the site at Bikecare when they expanded into internet selling.
A report by planners says: "The applicant has suggested that there is limited impact in terms of amenities and that the building is not visually intrusive. This point does not take into account of the need to improve the visual amenities locally."
The council says it attempted to compromise with Mr and Mrs Hicks suggesting the first floor of the building is removed. They said officers would then support a further temporary consent. However, no compromise has been agreed.
An officers' report concluded: "It would not be appropriate to grant a further temporary consent because the harmful impact would not be over come. Refusal is recommended.
"It is further recommended that enforcement action be authorised to secure the removal of the portable buildings and restoration of the site to its original condition.