Knowles' builds warehouse bigger than agreed as enforcement begins
- Credit: Terry Harris
Knowles Transport faces enforcement action after planners confirmed concerns raised by villagers that a new grain store is bigger than was agreed.
The family-owned transport business – with an annual turnover of over £35m and operating profits of over £2m - won permission on appeal to build the store in Manea Road, Wimblington.
The Government Planning Inspectorate in allowing the appeal after Fenland Council refused it, noted that the “proposed structure would be of a similar size, scale and height to the existing buildings on the site”.
That is clearly not the view of enforcement officers.
“I visited the site on April 15 and found that the building constructed was not the same as the building as shown on the approved plans,” Lee Walsh, senior enforcement officer reported back to one resident.
“This is a breach of planning control and I will be writing to the developer requesting either the building is removed or they submit a retrospective planning application to retain the building as built”.
Knowles is allowed to appeal the enforcement under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.
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One resident described it as “an expensive but illegal build”.
There are concerns, too, from St Peter’s Church who were told by the Planning Inspectorate that the building was unlikely to “intrude significantly on the quiet tranquility of the church yard”.
The inspector agreed that the existing agricultural stores on the appeal site were visible from the church yard.
But they were, he concluded, “not particularly prominent, due to their size, colour and the intervening landscape screen.
“I saw that from further afield, including from the appeal site, the spire and top half of the church was very visible, reflecting its setting and significance in the largely flat, wider agricultural landscape.
“However, I have already found that, even though the building would be large and close to the A141, its simple form and the use of materials which are sympathetic to its surroundings, would not be materially harmful to the rural character of the area.”
Knowles Transport say on their Facebook page they are in “the final stages of building a new warehouse at our Manea Road, Wimblington site”.
They say it is “an exciting development and one which will create up to 15 new jobs which is great news for the local region.
“Whilst we have taken every step to minimise disruption to residents, we appreciate that just recently there has been some additional disturbance”.
A Fenland Council spokesperson said: “We can confirm that we have carried out an investigation into concerns regarding an alleged breach of planning control.
“The building in question had not been built in accordance with planning permission, which had been granted at appeal in 2017.”
The spokesperson said: “The roof design differed from what was approved, which may have resulted in an increase in the overall height and impact of the building.”
The council says a breach of planning control is not illegal and Knowles are entitled to apply retrospectively for planning permission.
This will enable the council to “assess the impact fully including taking into account any comments which may be received from local residents.
“We have been advised by the applicant’s agent in this case that a retrospective application is due to be submitted.
“Once received, we will consult with residents as soon as possible and consider the application against the council’s policies, with the outcome determining what action, if any, we take.”
In allowing the appeal, the inspector reported that the proposed building would be linked to the existing structure on site by a shallow canopy with open space beneath it.
“This would ensure that the mass of the resultant building would not be dominant or visually incongruous,” he said.
“Furthermore, it would be similar to other large agricultural buildings that I saw in the surrounding area.
“Moreover, the implementation of a landscaping scheme along the western edge of the appeal site would assist in integrating the building within the surrounding landscape.”