‘There’s nowhere else for me to go’: Council orders garage to move amid planning row

Carl Purkiss at Carls Auto Repair Services, North Walsham. Picture: Jamie Honeywood

Carl Purkiss at Carls Auto Repair Services, North Walsham. Picture: Jamie Honeywood - Credit: Archant

The future of a mechanic's local business is hanging in the balance, with a planning appeal set to decide its fate.

Carl Purkiss at Carls Auto Repair Services, North Walsham. Picture: Jamie Honeywood

Carl Purkiss at Carls Auto Repair Services, North Walsham. Picture: Jamie Honeywood - Credit: Archant

North Norfolk District Council has ordered Carl's Auto Repair Services to move from its current home in Dilham, where the garage has been based since the beginning of 2018.

Owner Carl Purkiss relocated to the site after the lease lapsed on his previous garage, based in North Walsham.

However, the move was made without planning permission in place, with the unit defined to be used for industrial purposes, rather than auto repair.

Mr Purkiss, who has been in the motor trade for 19 years and set his business up in 2014, had previously been based in New Road but when the site was sold for development he was left in need of a new location.

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Mr Purkiss, 41 and a father, said: "I had been searching for a new place for the best part of 18 months but there was just nothing suitable available locally.

"I tried looking in Norwich, along the coast and on other industrial sites but just could not find anything that fitted my needs."

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Mr Purkiss was shown his current premises, a unit on Horning Road, and decided to take it on, aware of the defined planning use but not anticipating trouble making the change.

But at a planning committee in November, NNDC's planning committee refused his application to change the use from B1 (light industrial) to sui generis, which includes car repairs, arguing the use was not appropriate to a rural area.

Mr Purkiss added: "The site had previously been used for metal works, so if anything probably made more noise than what I do.

"If anything there is more of a need for auto repairs in a rural area - having a car is the only way some people can get around so they need places to get them fixed if anything gets wrong."

Having spent thousands of pounds making the move happen, Mr Purkiss said should he be ordered to move it could likely be the end of his business altogether.

He said: "I honestly do not know what I would do if I do not win the appeal. I have been here 18 months and am only just financially recovering from the cost of moving.

"I do not think I can face the prospect of having to move so would likely have to give up, it would be financial suicide [to move again].

"I want to keep my business local and provide a service to the area - I have a loyal customer base locally and want to keep it that way.

"There's nowhere else for me to go."

The sole trader currently employs four people, including apprentices, providing services such as repairs, MOTs and diagnostics.

After the refusal of his planning application, North Norfolk District Council issued an enforcement notice against Mr Purkiss, ordering him to move his business on.

The notice, which was issued in February, also says Mr Purkiss had built a fence and placed a shipping container on the site without permission.

It reads: "It is not considered that the use is appropriate in scale and nature to the rural location of the land, nor does it represent the sustainable growth or expansion of a business in a rural area."

It calls on Mr Purkiss to take the following action:

- Permanently cease all activities on the land associated with the car repair business

- Remove all waste, car parts and tools from the land

- Permanently remove the fence

- Permanently remove the shipping container.

A planning appeal against the enforcement is under way, with a hearing into the case set to be heard in October.

The deadline for those wishing to submit evidence for consideration is Friday, August 23.

North Norfolk District Council was approached for comment.

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