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Fenland councillors will decide derelict function rooms ‘beauty and the beast’ replacement

Chairman says “on planning balance I feel that this application should be determined by FDC planning committee”.

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A derelict function room – which was once victim to an arson attack – could be demolished and replaced with a four-bedroom house. The building in Whitemoor Road, March, once housed Whitemoor Road function rooms and also the Windmill Rooms.

But now the owner of 15 years, Mr R Khan, is hoping Fenland District Council will approve their demolition and replacement with a modern house.

Fenland Council planning officers considered refusing the application under delegated powers but support for the new house has come from March Town Council.

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And the chairman of the Fenland Council planning committee Cllr David Connor also wants the decision made by councillors and not officers.

After visiting the site, he reported back that “on planning balance I feel that this application should be determined by FDC planning committee.

“The reason is for consistency regarding planning decisions.”

The building in Whitemoor Road, March, once housed Whitemoor Road function rooms and also the Windmill Rooms. But now plans are in for it to be converted to a 4-bed house.

The building in Whitemoor Road, March, once housed Whitemoor Road function rooms and also the Windmill Rooms. But now plans are in for it to be replaced by this 4-bed house.

He says the council passed a development down Whitemoor Road quite recently, and the planning officers have only last month approved by officer delegation an application to build a house and knock down a barn further down Whitemoor Road “a lot further out of the main settlement of March than this application.

“I will, if need be, give other reasons if required but hope this is not required as it might preclude me from taking part in the debate and voting in this application at planning committee.”

His letter to planning officers has been made public on the council planning portal.

Planning officers say it should be refused because it is in an “elsewhere” location and doesn’t fit the normal requirements for allowing a house.

“Development elsewhere will be restricted to that which is demonstrably essential to the effective operation of local agriculture, horticulture, forestry, outdoor recreation, transport or utility services,” says their report.

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The building in Whitemoor Road, March, once housed Whitemoor Road function rooms and also the Windmill Rooms. But now plans are in for it to be converted to a 4-bed house.

The building in Whitemoor Road, March, once housed Whitemoor Road function rooms and also the Windmill Rooms. But now plans are in for it to be replaced by a 4-bed house.

“The applicant has not demonstrated that there would be an ‘essential’ need, as required in order to satisfy the tests set out in the Fenland Local Plan 2014.

“As such, the proposal fails to comply with these policies.”

Officers also point out that the site is within a Flood Zone 3, the highest risk of flooding “and has failed to demonstrate that it is not possible for the development to be located on a site with a lower risk of flooding.

“As such, the application has not passed the sequential test and the development is contrary to of the Fenland Local Plan 2014”.

,Mr Khan’s agent will tell the committee that because of its location and Covid, the use of the building for a function room has become unviable.

“Since being closed it has been subject to break ins, arson attempts and drug cultivation.

“The site is not in a sustainable location for function rooms, and the only sustainable use for this brown field site would be one family home.

“Along this stretch of Whitemoor Road there are 9 other residential properties along with a barn with approval to convert to a dwelling.”

The committee meets on November 14 and will be live streamed.

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