Council turn table on vociferous opponent of Sainsbury’s store after discovering he had breached numerous conditions on his own business

The entrance to Gildenburgh Water Dive In Centre Whittlesey where the new Sainsburys store is to be

The entrance to Gildenburgh Water Dive In Centre Whittlesey where the new Sainsburys store is to be built. - Credit: Archant

Fenland Council has turned the tables on a businessman who has been the principal objector to Sainsbury’s supermarket at Whittlesey but now finds himself faced with legal action for breaking planning laws.

Ian Forster of Gildenburgh Water has led a sustained campaign claiming that a revised access now needed for his diving centre as a result of the supermarket could threaten his livelihood.

But when council officers called by earlier this month they claim to have uncovered numerous breaches of his own 15 year old planning permission to develop the centre.

Many of the conditions relating to that permission ( which allowed for an on site restaurant, 44 bed hotel, new clubhouse, running track and camp site) had never been implemented.

A report to a special planning committee on June 22- that will determine the supermarket application- says the council took legal advice on Mr Forster’s 2000 application.

Although some works had been carried out, the council was advised that “the development which followed and which was inconsistent with the approved plans, would still have to be dealt with and could be subject to enforcement action”.

Legal advice to the council was that even had certain works been carried out before a 2006 enforcement deadline, there were six conditions still current which Mr Forster had breached.

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“There is no evidence that any of those conditions have been discharged,” says the report.

“The council had been advised that it would not be irrational or an abuse of process to seek to enforce against the breach of conditions. “Back in 2001, the council was quite clear that in correspondence that the conditions had to be discharged or formally varied. That was not done. It is advised that the works which have taken place on site and of which the council is now aware might well lead the council to consider enforcement action.”

Mr Forster is calling for planners to postpone a decision on the supermarket claiming any restricted access would devalue his business and would harm other companies located on Gildenburgh land.

The council also received letters of support including an on line petition with 300 signatures.

Officers have recommended the revised application for approval which must meet a June 30 deadline for both determination and the signing of a 106 ‘conditions’ agreement or risk jeopardising the whole scheme.