Thurrock Council rejects claim business has operated on green belt for 10 years

Thurrock Council has refused an application for a sports memorabilia business to continue operating on a Corringham green belt site.

The business operating on a former garden centre site on land adjacent to The Paddock And Nutoi, Park Gate Road, Corringham had sought a Lawful Development Certificate on the grounds that it had been operating on the site for more than ten years and was therefore automatically entitled to a certificate of lawfulness.

Past and current employees of the company owned by Matthew Reed provided statements to the council backing the owner’s claim.

One said: “I have worked from Matthew Reed from pre 1999/2000 selling football merchandise and was working for him during and after he purchased and transferred his business from South Road, Stanford le Hope around 2001.

“When he moved into the property it was being used as a commercial garden centre and stables. With regards to the garden centre, he done away with it and has stored and sold his memorabilia, and company clothing in the buildings since 2002 and I have worked there all that time.”

Planning officers were not convinced however, particularly since it was claimed a seemingly new building had also been on the site for more than ten years.

In a report, they said: “It plainly evident from the council’s aerial mapping tools that the building between the building and the northernmost building south of the ‘yard’ area on the site plan has not been on site for ten years, and therefore cannot have been in use by the applicant for the period alleged.

“It is very obviously a new building – featuring immaculate external cladding and a pristine concrete pad internally. Aerial photos show it was erected in approximately 2021, where the pad is evident without a roof above. They also show that in 2018 the site was clear and there is no structure on it, and prior to that it is evident that the remains of a greenhouse was on site and in poor condition.”

Officers concluded: “The application fails to demonstrate, on the balance of probability, that the land and building have been used for the identified purposes for a continuous period of at least ten years prior to the date of the application.”

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Christine Sexton

Local Democracy Reporter