Conversion of restaurant to home for up to 18 agricultural workers has been refused
Villagers have defeated plans to convert a former restaurant into a house of multiple occupation with Fenland's planning committee rejecting the proposal after hearing there were over 80 objections.
Simon Howard, of Howard Renovations Ltd, of Chatteris, applied to turn the former Classics restaurant on Station Road in Manea from an eatery and two-bedroom dwelling into a mixed use two-bedroom dwelling and seven bedroom house of multiple occupancy for agricultural workers - who would largely work for local firm Pretoria Energy.
At one point the hope was to house up to 30 people in the premises, but after discussions with planning officers the number was reduced to 18.
However, that and other changes to the site, including the introduction of a turning area to allow vehicles to access and exit going forwards, was not sufficient to sway officers who recommended rejection of the proposals.
Fenland's planning committee discussed Mr Howard's plans and listened to his agent Lee Bevens outline why he believed the site was suitable for the proposed change of use, including pointing out it would help support local shops and businesses in the village.
However, 84 residents who had objected to the plans citing a raft of reasons why the application should be thrown out, together with the officer recommendation was enough to persuade councillors that the plans were not suitable.
An officer's report submitted to the committee described Classics as a "modest site" and said the nature of the proposed use would result in significant detrimental impact on the residential amenity of surrounding dwellings.
One of the major concerns was that of parking, in what is already a heavily used part of the village, and the officer's report said: "The application advises that residents will be transported to and from the site to work by minibus and cars will remain on the farm, however this cannot be guaranteed nor conditioned.
"There is a significant shortfall of on-site parking and whilst highways have no objection on safety grounds, there will be a burden placed on the surrounding area to meet the increased parking demand."
The report did acknowledge that Mr Bevens' point about supporting the local businesses was valid stating: "It is likely that residents would utilise shops and facilities within the village contributing to its sustainability. However, the number of residents and nature of the use would result in an over development of this modest site."
Adding: "The benefits of the scheme are not considered to outweigh the harm that would be created, and as such the recommendation is one of refusal."
Councillor Murphy ran through a number of planning policies which it was argued the application would meet but to all of them he simply said: "Not this application."
He said the application was "inappropriate and ill thought out. Badly conceived and designed and will do nothing for Manea what so ever - I think officers have got this completely right."
A view endorsed by Councillor Mike Cornwell and in the end the planning committee agreed by refusing permission for the partly retrospective application.