BIRCHAM NEWTON: WWI trench project vetoed
A businessman is calling for the planning system to be changed to help small firms after his camp site project was refused permission.
Nigel Day may have to wind up Dreamy Hollow Leisure before it has even started after West Norfolk Council refused his planning application.
Mr Day and business partner Jonathan Burr had applied to create 12 pitches and restore a series of World War I trenches at a site in Bircham Newton.
But the bid was refused permission due to access concerns and the risk of unexploded bombs.
Mr Day is considering appealing against the decision, but has already spent £3,000 from his £17,000 start-up budget, on expert reports.
He is now calling for the system to be simplified and more help to be offered to small businesses.
Mr Day said: “I am disappointed that they have not shown more interest in what I thought was an exciting project.
“It is difficult for a small business to set up with a limited capital when the planning process is so long and involved.
“The company will struggle to last the year because of this.”
The change of use application for nine basic pitches, a camping pod, a teepee and a yurt along with the trench restoration was submitted in July.
Prior to that, Mr Day says he had an informal conversation with the planning department and was told that there should not be a problem with the application.
But Mr Day says the department came back on a number of occasions asking for different points to be dealt with. As a result he spent £3,114 on a tree survey, ecologist report, planning fees and solicitor’s advice.
Mr Day says the main reason for refusal was visibility problems on the entrance from the site on to the B11454, but had offered to put in a slip road. He also said the site had been swept by a metal detector and only shrapnel was found.
He is calling for local authorities to offer free help small businesses with these applications. He said: “I think there should be some positive advice and encouragement from the local council. If they could define what they want from the outset.”
Council leader Nick Daubney said the authority does offer a paid-for pre-application advice service, which Mr Day did not take up.
He also said that Mr Day was given the opportunity to withdraw the application and added: “The whole point of planning process is to ensure that everything must be in place.
“We did offer to meet Mr Day to discuss this particular application to try and help him.”
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