‘Common sense’ needed over plan

A FENLAND councillor is pushing for ‘common sense to prevail’ in a row over plans to convert an office into a residential bungalow.

Peter Tunley is set to discuss the decision to reject an application by March businessman Geoff Lord for a change of use for an office at his premises in Creek Fen with planning officers.

Cllr Tunley can’t understand why the application was refused at the recent planning meeting and believes the suggestion the building is not suitable for the proposed use is ridiculous.

Mr Lord, who has been fighting for the change of use for several years, is also angry that a site inspection by members of Fenland’s planning committee consisted of a drive past.

“I had a letter saying they were coming for a site inspection and that I was not allowed to be present but my warehouse manager Simon Beckwith saw them come,” said Mr Lord.

Mr Beckwith said: “I saw a coach drive past and pull up and I went over because I thought they were perhaps lost. The driver said it was all right they were doing a site visit for the planning application.

“The coach was there for a matter of moments, as far as I could tell no one got off the coach and then they just drove off.”

Mr Lord added: “How can that be described as a site visit. They would not have been able to get a proper look, they certainly would not be able to see inside to know whether or not it is suitable for residential use.

“To all intents and purposes it looks like any other bungalow. There is a shortage of good quality, affordable rental properties and this is ideal. I lived in it myself for some time after my divorce and so it has a good quality kitchen and bathroom.

“I have already had interest from people wanting to rent it. Robert Kivkovic, who runs Roberto Mac Ltd the recruitment agency, is very interested in it for someone like his transport manager.”

Mark Vawser, who has been acting as agent for Mr Lord, said: “At Fenland Hall it appears that common sense decisions have not always been made by the planning committee despite the leader’s call that ‘common sense should prevail’.

“Ordinary people cannot understand why the existing building, which looks like a dwelling cannot be used as such, as the new pitched roof was recently granted planning permission. This is a harmless proposal and for the moment a good dwelling is wasted despite there being a huge demand for affordable rented accommodation.”

Mr Tunley concluded: “There is no reason why the change of use should not be granted. None of the neighbours have objected. To all intents and purposes it is a bungalow. It looks like a bungalow and there is no rhyme nor reason or logical reason why this has been rejected.

“I am discussing the issue with officers and the chairman of the planning committee and I’m hoping that common sense will prevail.”