Chatteris man who hoped to transform garage into holiday accommodation is refused despite proposed tourism benefits

PUBLISHED: 08:30 15 December 2016

The proposed floor plan.

The proposed floor plan.

Archant

A Chatteris man who hoped to transform his garage into holiday accommodation has been refused due to the site being at an 'unsuitable location'. It comes despite support from people who thought it could bring people to the area.

Perce Baxter applied to convert his brick and tile garage block which serves Horseway Farm - a detached house on the site of a former farmhouse - in February this year. However in May, Fenland District Council refused the application on the grounds of access.

After re-appealing the case, there was a site visit on November 22 and the appeal has since been dismissed.

A report by planning inspector Claire Searson states that “access would be via a relatively busy main road with no footpath along its length.

“I therefore consider that the site is beyond convenient walking distance for potential occupiers of the proposed holiday accommodation.

“While it may be possible to cycle the route, in practice I consider that the majority of occupiers would be likely to access local services by private car.

“As such, the proposal would cause harm in this respect.”

The report does however state some benefits: “I have no doubt that visitors would be attracted to the area by the existing tourist offer, including angling, bird watching and at specific attractions such as the Airfield Complex, the Skylark complex, the Mepal Outdoor Centre and other historic attractions.

“The main demand would be within the summer months there would be periods of vacancy which would limit the harm.

“The letters of support also provide evidence in respect of a demand for holiday lets in the local area.”

Paul Jolley, former chairman of Fenland Tourism Committee, wrote a letter to FDC’s planning department in support of the application.

“As you are aware tourism in Fenland is one of the fastest growing businesses throughout the area; people come from all over the country and further afield.

“Fenland has a large number of attractions available to these people (fishing,

astronomy, wildlife and churches to name a few).

“Not everybody wishes to stay in a town. Holiday lets like these give people the chance to stay and relax by themselves or with their families.

“They are allowed to sleep, eat and do as they want, when they want.

“When I was chairman, this was the sort of idea we envisaged coming to Fenland and I would hope as officers you can support this application, as it will boost the local economy.”

Other supporters said the transformation “would promote the use of the waterways network for navigation, cycling, walking and other recreational activities”.

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