Farmer gets go-ahead for equestrian centre and engineering firm (From Darlington and Stockton Times)
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Farmer gets OK for equestrian centre and engineering firm
A FARMER can plough on with his engineering business, despite complaints from two neighbouring councils.
In an effort to diversify his East Durham Cathedral Farm, Paul Johnson started running an equestrian centre and PJI Engineering from the plot, between Sherburn Village and High Pittington, east of Durham City.
But he did so without planning permission, leading to a retrospective change-of-use application which went before councillors on Tuesday (September 10).
Sherburn Parish Council said the rural location was unsuitable for an engineering firm which belonged on an industrial estate and Pittington Parish Council agreed.
However, Durham County Council’s central and east Durham area planning committee granted consent, following the recommendation of their planning officials.
Tessa Barber, Mr Johnson’s agent, told the meeting at Durham’s County Hall that Mr Johnson had previously been unaware he needed planning permission for the changes and, on learning of the requirement, had co-operated with the council.
However, Councillor Mark Davinson said he appeared to be a “serial offender”, having also sought, and gained, retrospective planning permission in 2010.
Coun Bill Moir said it was a brave and courageous business venture with what appeared to be an exceptionally solid business case but he was very disappointed at the retrospective nature of the application and objected to this as a point of principle.
Coun John Lethbridge, however, said the mix of activities on site was not out of the ordinary for a farm and planners, in recommending approval, had “got it right”.
Planning permission for a partial change of use for the agricultural land and an on-site building to employment use for the keeping and breeding of horses, creation of horse exercise areas and runs, siting of cabins for office and storage use and drainage works was granted by nine votes to three.
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