A GOVERNMENT inspector determined a breach of planning rules in the Lake District ‘unacceptably harms’ the living conditions of people nearby and has ordered a gardening company to comply with an enforcement notice.

The planning inspectorate has upheld an enforcement notice by the Lake District National Park Authority (LDNPA) and dismissed an appeal over the conversion of land from garden use to storage by Lakeland Gardens Ltd without planning permission.

According to the enforcement notice the company is now required to stop using the land, which lies to the southwest of Birthwaite Road in Windermere, for storage and remove all stored items from the land including vehicles, trailers, equipment, skip, deposit of green waste and landscaping materials.

Other required actions include removing all the materials comprised in the hardstanding, spreading a 250mm depth layer of topsoil over the land and completing a woodland planting scheme.

The report by the planning inspectorate says the breach of planning control ‘unacceptably harms’ the living conditions of people living nearby.

The inspector said there were representations from occupiers of a nearby retirement home which said they were ‘unable to use their gardens’ due to noise from the site.

“Another resident explains that they have been distressed and have suffered high levels of anxiety when out in the garden because of the noise,” said the inspector.

“Reference is also made to the source of the noise generated by the use of the land as a Landscape Contractors Establishment, including noisy forklift trucks, loud reversing alarms and the loading/unloading of vans, as well as being disturbed at unsocial hours by the arrival of vehicles onto the land.”

In 2019 the LDNPA approved plans from the applicant  for a landscape contractors personnel base and material storage as well as another application for the provision of office and staff welfare buildings.

Then in 2021 LDNPA planning officers conducted a site visit to the former garden centre and concluded that unauthorised development had taken place. The unauthorised development included the use of the land to the rear of the site and changes to land levels from previously approved plans.

A resident named in documents as Mr B complained to the local government and social care ombudsman that the LDNPA did not deal ‘properly’ with planning matters at development on the former garden centre near his home and this had led to him being ‘disturbed’.

Among other allegations the resident said the authority failed to ‘adequately’ publicise the planning applications and failed to deal ‘effectively’ with breaches of planning control.

The ombudsman concluded in February 2022 there had been ‘maladministration by the authority causing injustice’ and the LDNPA agreed to pay £250 to the resident in recognition for the ‘uncertainty its failings have caused him’.

Following the issuing of an enforcement notice on the site an appeal was lodged in 2022 which said the steps required by the notice to be taken, or the activities required by the notice to cease, exceed what is necessary to remedy any breach of planning control. The appellant also states that planning permission should be granted for what is alleged in the notice and that the ‘slightly raised levels do not cause the affects cited’.

The case of appeal adds: “The potential loss of the building and scarce financial resources sunk into it will have a severe impact on the financial well-being of Lakeland Gardens potentially endangering its future sustainability.”

In response to the potential financial impact, the report from the planning inspectorate said: “The appellant has not provided any evidence to support that contention or what the implications of that might be for the local economy. I am therefore unable to factor that into the overall planning balance.”

The planning inspectorate dismissed the appeal on January 25.