Residents criticise council’s enforcement action as wait continues for historic March wall to be rebuilt

PUBLISHED: 16:46 25 February 2013 | UPDATED: 16:47 25 February 2013

The fenced-off area where the historic wall had stood.

The fenced-off area where the historic wall had stood.

Archant

ANGRY March residents have criticised a council’s lax enforcement action as they continue to wait for an illegally-demolished wall to be restored.

The historic wall, which stood next to a Grade-II listed building at 62a West End, was torn down without permission in 2011 as the homeowner was completing a two-storey extension.

Fenland District Council’s planning committee reacted furiously last year, backing an officer’s advice to pursue formal enforcement action. Mitchell Kitts, the council’s planning compliance officer, said the homeowner could be prosecuted if the wall was not rebuilt.

But, almost six months after councillors heard that it was “reasonable, necessary and expedient” to take enforcement action, the wall has still not been restored.

Mark Whalley, who lives next door, said he had pleaded for the council to take action but had been told that it was still “under review”.

He said: “We’ve lost faith in the enforcement team. They are using pretty strong rhetoric but there is no action.

“We were assured that this wall would have to be built back in its original form but I don’t believe the council has, or ever had, any intention of enforcing this.”

Mr Kitts told councillors last year that the homeowner had agreed the wall would be fully reinstated once the extension was complete, but it had not happened.

He said a new wall, which was built five metres back from the original boundary line, was a “stark visually intrusive element” in the street scene.

A council spokesman said: “There is no question of us not enforcing this but these issues can take some time to resolve.

“We have been working with the owner and officers will be meeting him this Friday when they will repeat the fact that he has to get the wall rebuilt.”

Councillor Jan French admitted that she did not think much enforcement was “being pushed”.

She said: “This one needs pushing as the person did this deliberately. I do not know what enforcement officers are still at the council.

“One trained and is now a planning officer.”

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