South Holland District Council offices.

Councillor allowed to overturn condition and make old home into office

A councillor has been allowed to turn his home into an office after previously being told to demolish it over safety concerns.

In 2016 Coun Jack Tyrrell was granted permission to build a new home at the Silverwood Garden Centre on Browns Gate in Long Sutton on condition the existing home, which had a problem with subsidence, was demolished.

Last week though, South Holland District Council’s Planning Committee voted through a change of use application for the old property so it could instead be turned into office space.

The new home is currently under construction, a report to the committee by planning officers states.

The latest application was objected to by Long Sutton Parish Council with Coun Andrew Tennant taking up their case in the meeting.

He told the meeting he believed the reason planning officers gave for demolishing the old house was so as not to increase the number of dwellings in the open countryside.

“This house was condemned by the applicant in his initial application to build a new house saying it’s not safe to live in,” he said. “All of a sudden here we are before the new one’s built, and it’s ok to be an office.

“This is not a minor condition being altered. This is the main condition of the application, that the old property had to be demolished.

“As the parish council has pointed out, across the road from this application somebody else applied for the same thing and they had to demolish their parents house to build a new one.

“I’m not trying to say that I’m objecting to this because it’s councillor Tyrrell, but what I am saying is I do think as an authority and as a committee we do need to be concerned that it’s obviously in the opinion of the public and the parish council that the reason this has got through is because the applicant is a councillor.”

He continued: “I know it’s to be an office, but it will just look like a four bedroom detached house. We’ve really gone round the main reason for the condition to demolish the house.”

Other councillors disagreed including Coun Bryan Alcock who urged a condition be put in place that the owner could not revert it back to a house dwelling without further change of use planning permission.

“I don’t often disagree with Coun Tennant but on this occasion I feel he’s probably got it wrong,” Coun Alcock said: “If we were faced with an application to build an office on this site I believe we’d have absolutely no reason to refuse it.

“The fact there was some subsidence and work may need to be done has very little to do with the decision making process.

“It’s a use for an existing building that would otherwise have to be demolished and seems to me to be totally appropriate.”

Coun James Avery, the chair of the committee responded: “I would hope that if there was anything fishy going on and another application came back in, the system was adequate and robust enough to deflect that.”

The committee went with planning officer’s recommendation to pass the application with Coun Rodney Grocock saying: “This application is judged on its merit. In the 14-years I’ve been on the committee, it doesn’t matter if Jack Tyrrell’s a district councillor. He’s a member of the public and this committee treats every single member of the public in respect of planning applications the same.

“No favour has been given to anybody and there’s nothing wrong with this application.”

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