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Sunderland businessman says planners are forcing him to close

Paul Downey outside his furniture business on Hendon Road. Paul has been given until the end of the month to re-locate his business following a planning row.

Paul Downey outside his furniture business on Hendon Road. Paul has been given until the end of the month to re-locate his business following a planning row.

A BUSINESSMAN claims council bosses are forcing him to close his business and axe jobs in a planning row.

But Sunderland City Council today hit back at Paul Downey’s claims, saying his case has twice been thrown out by planning inspectors.

Mr Downey has run Furniture2Go, in Hendon Road, since the former clothing factory was converted into a shop about 12 years ago, but he did not realise he needed to apply for permission to change the use of the building.

In 2003, he was granted permission for a new 240ft glass frontage and five advertising flag poles, but no one from the local authority pointed out that the building should not be used as a shop.

“They approached us after nine years to say we did not have the right use,” said Mr Downey.  

“They encouraged us to put a retrospective planning application in to cover the correct use of the building, but we got a letter to say the application had been rejected, and from then on we have been in litigation with the council.

“The reason they would not grant us the change of use permission is the Unitary Development Plan, which says Hendon is reserved for industrial use.

“That was passed in 1986, the new Local Development Framework has been passed since, which says Hendon is designated for regeneration.

“But with any regeneration, somebody has to start it off. When people see money being invested, it attracts other investments.

“I am currently looking for alternative premises, but should we not be able to find anything, it will mean eight people losing their jobs.”

But city council cabinet secretary Coun Mel Speding said the authority’s stance had been backed by planning inspectors at every stage.

“These premises, in an area allocated for business and industrial employment, have never had planning permission granted for retail use,” he said.

“A planning inspector upheld the decision to refuse a retrospective application for retail use. An appeal against an enforcement notice was lodged and an inspector again upheld the planning authority’s decision.

“The enforcement notice is to stop retailing, not to close the premises.”

Twitter: @SunEchoBiz

 

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