Gorefield mechanic wins battle against Fenland District Council to build new home

A MECHANIC breathed a sigh of relief when he was allowed to build a home for his family next to his garage.

But Robert Tawn was made to sweat after Fenland District Council played hardball and refused to back down over the three-bedroom chalet bungalow in “open countryside”.

The 31-year-old, who built RT Motors into a thriving company carrying out 3,500 MOTs a year after he was made redundant, said he needed a home on site in Hassock Hill Drove, Gorefield for security and to help grow his business.

But council development control manager Nigel Brown doubted the need for the home, saying: “Although the business is commendable and successful, we need to ensure the dwelling is essential.”

He asked: “Is this a convenience issue or a security issue?”

Luckily many councillors on Fenland’s planning committee had experience of running a garage and ruled that the home was “evidently needed”.

Councillor Jan French, who had four sets of tyres nicked from her garage recently, said: “This is a prime working garage. Fenland should be open for business and we should be helping to support him.”

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And committee vice chairman Councillor Philip Hatton said: “The success of any business depends on good security. I would not hesitate to recommend for approval.”

He added that there was “no way” the council could argue the development was in open countryside and said a theft would cost the firm lots of money in stolen goods and lost hours from police investigations.

Councillor John West said the home was “desperately needed”. He added: “I can certainly understand why they want to get some accommodation.”

Mr Tawn, who was said to make a “significant contribution to the local economy”, said: “I am really pleased with the decision.

“At the moment I live in a surrounding village. This will allow me to live on site, keep the business secure and make it more efficient so it can grow.”

Mr Brown has been asked to draw up “reasonable conditions” for the approval.