‘It’s a hell of a battle’: Hellesdon Leather facing court over claim it unlawfully sold furniture
- Credit: Archant Norfolk
A major Norwich business is going head-to-head with a council in a court battle over whether it unlawfully sold furniture from one of its buildings.
Hellesdon Leather is clearing the stock from its Drayton warehouse after Broadland District Council alleged a breach of the terms of its lease.
Broadland claimed the firm defied an enforcement notice ordering it to stop selling furniture from the warehouse - a practice forbidden in the lease. But Hellesdon Leather chairman Trevor Milton said it had 'done nothing wrong'.
The family-run furniture company traded from Fifers Lane in Norwich for 30 years before its rent was almost doubled from £53,000 to £103,000. It then moved to units on Mile Cross Lane and Drayton Industrial Estate in 2013.
While the terms of its lease prohibit sale to the public at the Drayton site, Broadland became aware it was being used for retail and issued an enforcement notice. A court summons has now been issued to the company, alleging non-compliance with the notice.
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Mr Milton said: 'There is a hell of a battle going on.' He said other units on the estate traded directly with the public - a fact confirmed by the council, which said many had planning permission.
He added: 'They are picking on me and whatever happens now I am going to go in front of a judge.'
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The Drayton site was intended as a warehouse to feed into the showroom on Mile Cross Lane. A retrospective planning application was submitted for the unit to be used as retail space. This was refused and an enforcement notice was issued. A subsequent appeal was dismissed by the Planning Inspectorate. Mr Milton said: 'The lease for Drayton runs out in 18 months, so I am clearing the warehouse. They should be giving us nourishment, not punishment. It makes you feel like a criminal. We do not physically sell from that warehouse, it is unmanned.'
A spokesman for Broadland District Council said: 'Broadland District Council is prosecuting for the non-compliance of an enforcement notice in which Hellesdon Leather were asked to cease retail use of their unit. It is understood that the unit continues to be used as retail space which has led to the summons.'