Manea parish councillor David Cole wins right to lift agricultural restriction on home having shown he quit farming in 2005

Biggins Farm, Fallow Corner Drove Manea. Picture: Steve Williams.

Biggins Farm, Fallow Corner Drove Manea. Picture: Steve Williams. - Credit: Archant

Parish councillor David Cole has won the right to remove an agricultural restriction on the house he built in 2003 having proved to Fenland Council he gave up farming 14 months later to become a property developer.

Cllr Cole started work on his home, Biggins House, Fallow Corner Drove, Manea, in May 2003 and moved in on Christmas Eve 2003.

The planning permission issued by Fenland Council acknowledged it was outside the normal development area but used a provision which allowed housing in the countryside provided it was linked to agricultural occupancy.

Last year Cllr Cole applied to have the restriction lifted after successfully applying for a certificate of lawful use – having shown he had not been involved in agriculture for at least 10 years.

Fenland Council issued the certificate in September, which meant a second application by Cllr Cole – to have the agricultural occupancy restriction lifted- was redundant. The council accepted that since the occupancy requirement had been breached for more than 10 years, it could not mean one of the six tests set out in planning law could meet.

The council agreed that the requirement was no longer enforceable – one of the tests- and therefore the condition should be removed.

Accountants Thomas Quinn told Fenland Council that they had acted for Cllr Cole and his wife since March 1986.

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“Our clients ceased trading as livestock farmers in April 2005 when the last delivery of pigs was made from the farm,” said Mr Quinn.

“Since that time our clients have not engaged in any farming activities and their source of income up to and including the present time (May 2015) has been from the construction trade.”

Manea Parish Council agreed that Cllr Cole had not been involved in agriculture for 10 years prior to the application for a certificate of lawful use.

“The council has knowledge that this property has been occupied by persons not engaged in agricultural work for at least 10 years,” the clerk told Fenland Council.

On his declaration of interests – posted to the Manea Parish Council website- Cllr Cole describes himself as a ‘farmer/property developer’.

He is a partner in two businesses, D J and P A Cole and Cole Properties Ltd.

Land owned by Cllr Cole includes Biggins House “with adjoining 28 acre farm/development land and building”.

He also lists development sites in Manea in Valentine Close, off High Street and Westfield Road and within his ownership.