Mayor’s empty factory unit once the target for cannabis growing sting now set to become flats

THE Mayor of March whose factory unit was the target for a cannabis sting two years ago looks set to win consent to turn it into flats.

Councillor Jan French’s application to convert it to four, two bedroom flats will be before Fenland District Council Planning Committee next Wednesday with a recommendation from officers to approve it.

Chief planning officer Graham Nourse says Cllr French must have demonstrated “through a marketing exercise” it has no takers for industrial use. That proof, he concludes, has been delivered.

A report briefly alludes to the unit’s chequered past as a cannabis factory, noting that in 2010 “a tenant was found but it was vacated within five months and the unit has remained vacant ever since. “

Cllr French told planners that the last permanent tenant left in October 2007 and although it has since been marketed its only potential was as a day centre for FACET- the March charity once chaired by Cllr French and for which she later worked as financial administrator. FACET never moved in, she said, through lack of funding.

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Geoff Taylor, her planning consultant, said the unit has been marketed extensively but has remained unlet.

Mr Nourse concluded that “the loss of this unit would not result in a significant loss of employment land, and would bring an under utilized building back into active usage. “

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He accepted that the asbestos roof will remain but a new false ceiling added to fulfil building regulations.

Because of the distance from the road, those buying or leasing the flats will be required to pay a contractor to remove household waste.

Two years ago police were called to the industrial unit at Woodville Drive, Westry, March, after an off-duty officer reported a burglary. Police found 1,300 cannabis plants being grown using specialist equipment.

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