‘It just feels heavy-handed’ - independent businesses ordered off farm site by council
- Credit: Nick Butcher
Independent businesses based at a Norfolk farm are facing an uncertain future after being ordered off the site by the council.
North Norfolk District Council served an enforcement notice against several companies at the Beeches Farm in Tunstead due to an alleged breach of planning.
The landowner, Luke Paterson, and the business owners, have now appealed the notice, accusing the local authority of being 'heavy handed'.
Should they lose, seven businesses will have to leave their units on the farm – potentially forcing them to cease trading.
Mr Paterson, whose family has owned the farm since the 1970s, said: 'It just feels heavy-handed and unnecessary.
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'We were having open dialogue with the council on how to proceed with this, then all of a sudden that disappeared.
'The next thing we know, a solicitor turns up with an enforcement notice.'
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The farm was served an enforcement notice by the council in April 2017.
Documents show that some of businesses applied for change-of-use permission for their units in March 2017 – prior to the notice being issued.
But each application was refused by the district council on June 15, 2017.
Mr Paterson added: 'It has been difficult for the smaller businesses because of the stress and anxiety of not knowing where the future lies.'
Clive Randall, whose son Kurk owns Wroxham Car Body Shop, said they could have to close if they are forced out of their unit.
'We had been in negotiations with Broadland High School to offer work placements,' he said. 'But that has been shelved because we don't know what is going to happen.'
The enforcement notice states an application for commercial uses of the land was initially sought in September 2015. However it was refused in January 2016. A subsequent appeal was dismissed by a planning inspector in November 2016.
A North Norfolk District Council (NNDC) spokesman said: 'The notices were served because it appeared to NNDC that the activities being undertaken on the site amounted to a breach of planning control, and that it was expedient and in the public interest for those activities to be appropriately regularised and controlled.'