Traders on a Norfolk farm fight back in final bid to save livelihoods
- Credit: Archant
Traders have launched a last-ditch bid to save their livelihoods at a Norfolk farm as the district council seek to force them to leave after 10 years over planning breaches.
Several companies at the Beeches Farm in Tunstead, near North Walsham, were served with enforcement notices by North Norfolk District Council (NNDC) due to an alleged breach of planning.
The council claims that businesses have been using the farm site within the last 10 years as offices, for industrial and residential purposes, storage, car parking and vehicle repairs, without planning permission for a change of use.
The landowner, Luke Paterson, and the business owners, appealed the notice, and a public inquiry will be held at the NNDC offices in Holt Road, Cromer at 10am on September 25.
Should they lose, seven businesses will have to leave their units on the farm – potentially forcing them to cease trading.
Mr Paterson said: 'Three businesses have already left the farm due to the uncertainty over the future. About 11 people are employed at the seven businesses still here.
'It's not uncommon for farms to diversify the use of their buildings, so we feel that it is within council policy. Locally, other farms let out redundant buildings to third parties, so why is Beeches Farm any different?
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'We have a nice community of quiet businesses here. They are all thriving and supply local services and employment. The whole process has been stressful and expensive.'
Kurk Randall, who runs a car body shop on the site, said: 'I've been here five years. If the public inquiry goes against us, I'll cease trading.'
A NNDC spokesman said: 'NNDC served an enforcement notice because of the council's concerns surrounding impacts from unauthorised site activities at the site on local amenity.
'The site owners have chosen not to comply with the terms of the notice and have decided to contest the matter via a public inquiry appeal.'
The farm was served an enforcement notice by the council in April 2017.
An application for commercial uses of the land was initially sought in September 2015, and refused in January 2016. A subsequent appeal was dismissed by a planning inspector in November 2016.