Charnley’s Home and Garden centre’s £1m extension could be torn down as councillors have unanimously agreed to issue an enforcement notice for the building to be demolished.
Marc Charnley, who is the owner of Charnley’s Home and Garden in Ulverston Road, Dalton, breached planning legislation and building regulations by creating a mezzanine level which has resulted in the unauthorised sales of household furniture.
The 43-year-old, who withdrew his planning application prior to Barrow Borough Council’s planning committee meeting yesterday, also enclosed the central courtyard and resurfaced the car park without permission.
This has caused a reduction in parking spaces and sparked major concerns about the safety of pedestrians, with more motorists having to park their cars along Ulverston Road which has a speed limit of 60mph.
As a result of the planning breaches, the committee took enforcement action which means that they have put out a notice to Mr Charnley calling for the building to be dismantled.
However, the garden centre boss, who claims that he was unaware of any breaches to planning law, can appeal against this decision which will result in the notice being suspended.
This means that it could take up to 12 months for a final outcome to be declared.
Despite the notice, Charnley’s will still be able to sell household furniture on the mezzanine level as an investigation will need to take place to ascertain how many breaches have taken place over the years that the garden centre has undergone redevelopment.
This meant that the planning committee could not authorise further enforcement action to stop him from selling furniture because more information is needed on the breaches and options need to be discussed with Mr Charnley.
Dalton councillor Ann Thurlow criticised Mr Charnley for not adhering to legislation and has serious concerns about the safety of pedestrians in Ulverston Road due to the lack of parking.
She said: “Sometimes on Saturdays there are cars parked on there for the football. It’s a 60mph road and it’s pretty dangerous – I wouldn’t want to step out into that road.
“There is less space for parked cars but the business has expanded so that creates a problem. If it was just garden furniture that would be fine and it also has a cafe which is fine; but then when you move into living room furniture and sofas that is completely different altogether.
“The bottom line is that you and me would have to go through the proper channels so why is he any different?”
In a statement issued after the meeting, Mr Charnley said: “We are obviously very upset and incredibly shocked at hearing the decision announced today.
“We have been selling furniture for eight years without any problems so are understandably confused at the concerns raised.
“We believe there are easy and viable solutions to all the issues detailed in the report and only want to work in co-operation with Barrow Borough Council to implement these.
“We are very worried, as are our staff and we would like to say thank you for all the messages of support we have received over the last few days.”
Failure to comply with either an enforcement notice or a stop notice is a criminal offence, according to planning laws in the UK.
It is uncommon, but local authorities can choose to demolish buildings erected without planning consent.
However, they may instead decide to impose unlimited fines for failing to comply with the law.