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Business boost for Fenland couple whose home was destroyed by fire

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Luck has finally turned for a couple whose house burnt down 18 months ago.

Nigel and Nikki Davies have been given a fresh start by Fenland District Council who agreed they could build a new home at the air sports centre they created a decade ago.

The couple found Fenland District Council planning committee supportive of their proposals despite a recommendation of refusal by planning officers.

The committee over ruled the recommendation and agreed that Mr and Mrs Davies could build their new home within the grounds of Fenland Wind and Air Sports Centre that they run in Cross Road, March.

Instructions for use of the centre: DO NOT fly inside of the BLUE BOXED Area at ANY TIME out of Respect for the Crematorium and the Golf Course.Please pay Special Attention to the Chicken Houses to the South of our
Site there is a 75m Minimum Distance away from any Chicken House at any
time and you must NOT fly over these building at Any Time or inside of any
of the Blue Boxed No Fly Zone, unless you are at high altitudes of 2500ft or above.

Instructions for use of the centre: DO NOT fly inside of the BLUE BOXED Area at ANY TIME out of Respect for the Crematorium and the Golf Course. Please pay Special Attention to the Chicken Houses to the South;  there is a 75m Minimum Distance away from any Chicken House at any time and you must NOT fly over these building at Any Time or inside of any of the Blue Boxed No Fly Zone, unless you are at high altitudes of 2500ft or above.

Craig Brand Architectural Design Services put their case to council planners and Mr Davies himself addressed the committee.

Planning officers explained that the couple have been living on site whilst their home is refurbished in Almond Drive.

Whilst living there, the couple had realised how “inefficient the business was having to travel back and forth as well as the increased convenience for accepting deliveries on site.

“The design and access statement also notes the increase in enquiries made by local people passing by when travelling along Cross Road.

“The proposal will provide an on-site security presence for the equipment on site. The approval of the application will allow the expansion of the business due to the on-site security presence to protect business equipment.”

The planning officers report also noted that living on site would provide additional security for the business. “

“Living off site means an early start and late finish for the applicants to get equipment out of storage, assembly, safety tests and test runs prior to customers arriving on site,” the report explained.

“Since the application was submitted, the applicants have secured a grant to double their Blokart fleet to 20 with attachable side cars – allowing disabled groups & young children

“Following the increased Blokart fleet, the applicants propose to build a suitable storage unit so these Blokarts can be stored fully assembled.

“Security is the main reason for justifying the proposal as it will allow the Blokarts to be stored fully assembled.”

But having outlined the pros, council planners pointed out that the couple’s home address is only 1.6 miles from the application site, which is a 6-minute drive.

“As a result, it is not considered that the scheme would result in significant sustainability benefits given that the existing distances involved in travelling from their permanent address to the site would be considered to be reasonable,” officers felt.

Their report also added: “The application states that there will be increased security for the business from living on site.

“Security is a matter to be considered in relation to the acceptability or otherwise of a planning application, however it would not be uncommon or unreasonable for business premises of this type to operate under a scheme of security cameras and alarms.

“The agent has noted that following the increased Blokart fleet, the applicants propose to build a suitable storage unit so these Blokarts can be stored fully assembled.

“No such storage buildings have been proposed under this application.”

Planning officers felt that that “the increased security or convenience from the applicant residing adjacent to the site is a material factor sufficient to overcome the policy requirement to direct development away from such sites”.

Officers recommended also argued that a “further permanent dwelling in this predominantly rural location is considered unjustified in this case and would significantly detract from, and undermine, the rural character of this part of the district”.

Mr Davies told the committee that his air sports centre has been operating now properly for 10 years.

Since living on the site in a mobile home “we’ve picked up regular additional business that we would have previously missed in the past when we were only present with pre-booked activities at the centre”

He explained they had a substantial £55,000 grant to purchase an additional equipment, and this would assist with young children disabled activities.

“We can protect our business by living on site and it will allow us to expand and attract more new local business,” he said.

Answering questions from councillors he said that he and his wife had lived in the mobile home on site after they house burnt down. They have temporary consent for it.

Cllr Will Sutton said when permission for the centre was first given, some members were a little sceptical and felt it might be a five-minute wonder.

“But that has proved not to be the case,” he said.

 

FACT FILE

 

At 6.36pm on Tuesday (19TH October 2021) fire crews were called to a fire on Almond Drive in March.

Crews from March, Chatteris, Wisbech and Whittlesey, along with the turntable ladder from Stanground, attended the incident.

Firefighters arrived to find a fire in the roof space of a bungalow that had spread from a shed. Wearing breathing apparatus, they extinguished the fire using hose reels and jets, with the turntable ladder used to tackle the fire from above.

All people were accounted for. One male casualty required treatment for smoke inhalation and was left in the care of ambulance crews.

The crews returned to their stations by 11pm.

The cause of the fire was accidental.

 

 

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