March man has plans for storage building refused by Fenland Council planners despite support from March councillors and neighbours
PUBLISHED: 17:31 16 March 2018 | UPDATED: 21:29 17 March 2018
A March businessman has spoke of his despair after plans to erect a storage building on land next to his home were refused by council planners - despite support from March Town Council.
Groundworks contractor, Phil Purse, from Silt Road, said he felt ‘victimised’ following the decision by Fenland District Council in December last year. It came just weeks after the build was recommended for approval by March Town Council.
Mr Purse, from Silt Road, who owns Phil Purse Groundworks and Plant Hire, put plans forward to build an agricultural building to store his machinery such as rollers, dumpers and trailers.
But planners refused the development stating it would have been ‘out of character with the tranquil character of the open countryside’ – despite the one and half acre site sitting next to a busy train track.
Mr Purse received around 15 letters of support from neighbours, March town councillor Rob Skoulding and leader of Cambridgeshire County Council Steve Count.
Mr Purse, 51, said: “This has been going on since September 2016 when we moved in here. All I wanted to do was build a storage building and put machinery in it. But they [the council] have not understood what vehicles we have got.
“There would be no work taking place here, so no noise, it would purely be for storage. All the equipment is maintained on the job and I would only take one out at a time for when I would need to use it.
“I cannot see how we would be disturbing anyone – especially when there is a train track right next to us anyway.”
The steel frame build would have been 60ft by 30ft and with dark green cladding.
The refusal has meant that expensive machinery has had to sit at the entrance to the site instead – leaving it vunearable to being stolen.
Mr Purse added: “I feel victimised; I have even said I would consider a smaller shed but they are just not listening. It’s all a bit demoralising and caused a lot of stress to us.”
“An appeal would be next and that is the last chance saloon. I would ultimately have to move to somewhere I could operate from, but I am not seeing how I am disturbing anyone.”
Planning consultant, Trevor Feary, had dealt with the planning application on behalf of Mr Purse.
He said: “I don’t understand what the problem is. This building would not disturb anyone and it would be beneficial to Mr Purse. It appears to be just a lack of common sense.”
In a letter of support from Councillor Skoulding, he added: “Developments like this should be approved as they are supporting local business. It is in keeping with the area and will allow Mr Purse and his family to remain their business in March.”
Town council leader, Steve Count, also said: “This is within the curtilage of an existing development not open countryside. I do not believe that this modest proposal would affect the area at all. In terms of noises this is very close to a full functioning railway line which in addition to passenger trains has regular enormous goods trains passing along this route.”
However, at the planning meeting on December 7 2017, Fenland Council officers said the build would have ‘adversely impacted’ on the landscape character of the surrounding area.
It stated: “The proposed development would likely result in harm to the amenity of neighbouring occupiers by reason of disturbance from large commercial vehicles.
“It is likely to lead to traffic conflict on a quiet narrow country lane.
“The proposal is also considered contrary to the aims of The March Neighbourhood Plan in that the proposal fails to improve the quality of the built and natural environment.”