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Broads Authority officers to conduct site inspection at Waveney River Centre

PUBLISHED: 06:00 19 September 2017 | UPDATED: 08:19 19 September 2017

James Knight at Waveney River Centre. Photo: Archant

James Knight at Waveney River Centre. Photo: Archant

Archant

The MD of a Broads-based holiday business came in for criticism from Broads Authority (BA) planning committee members for failing to answer a list of questions over the erection of three Mongolian-style tents.

The Waveney River Centre. Picture: James Bass The Waveney River Centre. Picture: James Bass

During a meeting on Friday members of the committee said the matter had dragged on for too long and questioned why Waveney River Centre MD James Knight was not cooperating.

Mr Knight has refused to answer a list of 15 questions from planners about his yurts, stating he already had planning permission for the campsite and they were covered by that.

The yurts are fixed to wooden platforms and connected to electricity and equipped with woodburning stoves, beds and other furniture.

A BA report on the matter stated: “By virtue of the raised timber platforms, their fixing to the platforms, scale and likely presence on site for the greater part of the year, these are considered to be operational development and thus require planning permission.”

Professor Jacquie Burgess. Professor Jacquie Burgess.

But Mr Knight argued that the yurts were covered by a Lawful Development Certificate.

With Mr Knight looking on from the public seating area, members of the committee asked if the platforms were fixed to the ground but this could not be ascertained.

Professor Jacquie Burgess said the question formed part of those sent to Mr Knight. “It is really an issue of who provides the answers to the very simple questions that are being asked,” she said. “Surely any reasonable person would expect that the owner would have no difficulty in simply providing the answers to these questions.”

Chair Sir Peter Dixon said the amount of time being wasted on the issue was “ridiculous”.

Sir Peter Dixon. Picture: Broads Authority Sir Peter Dixon. Picture: Broads Authority

“It should be a simple matter. You ask a question you get an answer.”

Committee member Bill Dickson said he was “baffled” at the refusal to answer the questions.

Solicitor Steven Bell, who advises the BA on planning matters, said the issue of whether the platforms were fixed was just one part of the investigation. He said planning applications were determined by size, permanence and physical attachment.

Paul Rice, who took a more conciliatory tone, proposed the Authority try one more time to resolve the matter amicably.

A decision was then taken that BA officers would conduct a site inspection and report back to the planning committee at a later date.

See also: Broads Authority accused of ‘double standards’ in row over tent

James Knight responds

Contacted for comment after the meeting, James Knight, the MD of Waveney River Centre said he had asked the Broads Authority how the answers to the questions would be used to determine operational development.

“They have not answered that,” he said. “The officers have already visited the site and actually know the answers. They’ve been inside the yurts and inspected them.

“The critical question is whether the platforms are fixed to the ground. They are not, and I’ve told them that already - because I know that this is the most important thing.

“They also mentioned size - and I’ve told them that they are smaller than many tents brought by customers - and permanence, which is an odd question to ask about a tent.

“The tent has a finite life, but in any event our campsite has consent to operate all year round.

“They already know the important answers but won’t tell me how they intend to use any other answers I give. But more importantly, why are they even asking the questions?”

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