THE boss of a garden centre could be forced to tear down his sprawling extension after it was revealed he did not get planning permission off the council to construct the building.

Charnley’s Home and Garden in Dalton, which was previously known as Crooklands, reopened in October following a £1m revamp and now sells a wide range of home furnishings.

However, Marc Charnley, who opened the business 20 years ago with his father Lou and his sister Leeanne, did not seek planning approval to build the extension or to sell furniture.

A retrospective application was submitted by Mr Charnley to construct a detached extension which will provide retail space, but this was withdrawn by the 43-year-old yesterday morning.

However, at a planning committee meeting next Tuesday, Barrow borough councillors will consider whether or not to seek enforcement action - regardless of Mr Charnley's withdrawal of his application.

This could result in the newly erected extension being pulled down just one month after it opened its doors to the public.

Mr Charnley has denied any wrongdoing and said he didn't realise that he had breached planning laws.

He said: "We have been selling furniture for the last nine years. We didn't think we were breaching any planning laws at all.

"We just expanded it slowly and apparently we are breaching planning laws according to them. We have been selling that stuff for eight years but we have just expanded it recently and we are allowed to sell furnishings and gifts."

In a report published prior to next week's meeting, case officer Barry Jesson concluded that there is "no exception" for the site operator choosing to "ignore planning legislation".

He also said that there are "serious issues arising from the unauthorised sale of goods, which may adversely impact upon the town centre".

Barrow Borough Council's planning manager, Jason Hipkiss, said the council operates a "town centre first" approach when it comes to approving retail planning applications with any out-of-town sites requiring justification to build on grounds of need.

Mr Hipkiss insists that no such justification was put forward by Marc Charnley.

He said: "The garden centre does sell other items as well which is just incidental but for places that want to sell sofas and tables we have a requirement to consider the town centre as an initial location to be selling these kind of things, with an out-of-town site such as a garden centre being a last resort.

"Other businesses have had to go through the right channels and Mr Charnley has not put anything towards us which suggests he has a special case."

Cumbria County Council, which is the highways authority, has also raised safety concerns about a lack of parking spaces caused by the newly built extension.

The authority fears this could result in more customers having to park on Ulverston Road, which could cause an increased risk of collision with cars travelling down that road at speeds of up to 60mph.

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