Manea School of Gardening win Planning Inspectorate appeal to build homes off High Street

Flashback to 2010 as Mary Larham began work on her Manea Gardening School. Picture' ARCHANT

Flashback to 2010 as Mary Larham began work on her Manea Gardening School. Picture' ARCHANT - Credit: Archant

Former postmistress Mary Larham – who in recent years has run the Manea School of Gardening – has won permission to build up to seven homes on her land.

The Planning Inspectorate allowed her appeal after an application to Fenland District Council was refused.

The inspector who heard the appeal said the main issues appeared to be access and whether these arrangements would be acceptable in terms of pedestrian safety.

He said there was no dispute that the site could physically accommodate seven homes and this level of density would be appropriate in the site context.

"Whilst I have treated access as a reserved matter, it could only realistically be gained from High Street by the existing entrance that serves the gardening school," said the inspector.

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"The submissions before me indicate that the High Street access has been established and in active use for many years. The appellant says that from

1984 to 2011 it served a working nursery / garden centre use and she makes reference to use by large vehicles, skip lorries and oil tankers without any issue.

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"It has served the gardening school since 2011 and, when I visited, there were a good number of cars in the parking area associated with this use."

The highway authority raised no objections to the proposal at the application stage, but made clear that the indicated private drive arrangement would not be adoptable as a public highway.

"However, the council is concerned that the access, and its use by the occupiers of the new dwellings and two other properties on High Street that have access rights, would harm the amenities of properties to the east, which I assume to mean No 16 High Street and Nos 1, 2 and 3 Carpenters Close," said the inspector.

"I do not consider that use of the access would create any particular issues for No 16 High Street, as it has been exposed to traffic alongside its western boundary for many years and it has a stout boundary fence to its rear garden area."

In respect of Carpenters Close residents the inspector disagreed with the council about whether a private drive would unduly harm their living conditions.

"Trip generation from seven dwellings would be relatively limited and speeds would be likely to be very low, which would limit noise and general disturbance," said the inspector.

He concluded that the likely means of access from High Street is acceptable to serve the development and that the private drive access arrangements within the site can be determined at the reserved matters stage.

The inspector also felt that refuse collection issues could be resolved and there was no evidence these would create pedestrian difficulties.

"I conclude that there is no evidence to support the view that the proposal would be harmful to the interests of pedestrian safety or that pedestrian accessibility would not be attractive and convenient," he said.

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