A Government planning inspector put paid to the dreams of Claire Collins by banning her from using a small wooden shed in her garden as a therapy room.
Measuring just 4 metres by 3 metres -and 2.4 metres tall – the Planning Inspectorate insists it cannot continue as it is.
East Cambridgeshire District Council refused planning permission and Claire has now lost her appeal.
Mr G Dring, the planning inspector, ruled that CC’s Beauty Parlour can no longer operate from the garden of the house at Qua Fen Common, Soham.
East Cambs Council refused the retrospective last August, Claire appealed, but Mr Dring has backed the council’s decision.
“The construction of the insulated wooden cabin room has already been completed,” says Mr Dring.
“Section 73A of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 makes allowance for the submission of a planning application for development which has been carried out before the date of the application for development and consequently I have considered the appeal on that basis.”
But he said the main issue was the effect of the salon on highway safety, with particular regard to parking provision.
Claire’s cabin is in the back garden of her semi-detached home.
Mr Dring said that whilst he recognised that some customers may walk or cycle to the salon, its location, and the lack of separate footways along the road that leads to the common land that the appeal site is located off, means that it is likely that a significant proportion of customers would arrive by car.
He accepted that Claire’s husband works away in the week and so therefore one car space is available “and the operational hours of the proposed use could reflect this working pattern.
“However, working patterns could change in the future.
“The opening hours identified on the application form also extend beyond the normal working day which means that in the evening there would be two vehicles parked at the appeal site, belonging to the occupiers.
“I therefore find that the need for the provision of three off street parking spaces is reasonable in this case.”
Mr Dring agreed the beauty therapy room is limited in size and is laid out to accommodate one customer at a time.
He also noted that Claire would be the only person working at the premises and that the hours would be part time and flexible to fit around family life.
And he felt a condition could be put in to ensure there was an appointments register – open to inspection by the council – to “ensure that sufficient time is provided between appointments.
Limit overlapping of customers
“This would limit any overlapping of customers needing to park at the appeal site”.
But he said that based on the drawings before him, he could not be certain that three parking spaces of adequate size could be provided.
Whilst taking “note” of the benefits for Claire in working from home, he did not accept these outweighed the harm.
Mr Dring accepted neighbours had offered the use of off-street parking spaces “however, the common land and the off-street parking spaces associated with neighbouring dwellings are not in the control of the appellant and therefore cannot be relied upon for the purposes of parking”.
He concluded: “Without clear evidence that three adequately sized parking spaces can be provided within the appeal site I find that sufficient parking provision has not been demonstrated and therefore the development is harmful to highway safety.
“Even if I were to agree with the appellant that the business does not cause any noise, distress, or nuisance to occupiers of neighbouring dwellings, a lack of harm in this regard does not weigh in favour of the proposal.
“The proposal is contrary to the development plan as a whole and there are no other considerations which outweigh the harm. The appeal is therefore dismissed.”
He dismissed assurances by Claire of there being “ample space for 3 cars or more but only one appointment will be made at a time, and I will have no employees.
“I will work varied hours during the day and some evenings and occasional Saturday mornings.
“Hours would be part time due to childcare.”
Customers ‘may travel by vehicle’
In their refusal, council planners felt that “the introduction of a commercial beauty room would attract customers to the site, some of whom may travel by vehicle.
“The land outside of the application site is Common Land and is privately owned.
“The applicant provided a parking scheme which increased the parking area to the side of the dwelling, to show that three cars can be parked within the residential curtilage however, the drawing provided does not meet the current 2.5mx 5m parking tolerances and would only be able to provide appropriate parking for two cars.
“The proposed plan is also not a workable solution as the third car has to be blocked in, in order for this to work.”
Officers thought there was no manoeuvre space within the red line curtilage of the house “which means that turning and reversing would take place on the Soham common.
“This is a convoluted and impractical solution to the parking required for the beauty room”.
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