It’s back to square one

COUNCIL lawyers have spent seven weeks deciding whether work at Ely s Roswell Pits is lawful – only to agree that they can t decide. They have rejected businessman Jeremy Tyrrell s application for a Certificate of Lawfulness claiming that it is invalid. T

COUNCIL lawyers have spent seven weeks deciding whether work at Ely's Roswell Pits is lawful - only to agree that they can't decide.

They have rejected businessman Jeremy Tyrrell's application for a Certificate of Lawfulness claiming that it is invalid.

Their decision that the application is 'undeterminable' means they are back to square one, and it leaves Mr Tyrrell, whose company Jalsea Marine owns the lake and Ely's Cathedral Marina, facing the need to submit a new certificate application or a planning application.

But council officers have agreed that Mr Tyrrell does not require planning permission for boats to cruise on the lake, temporary moorings for 28 days a year, a temporary hard standing for a crane, safety and security fences and gates and maintenance.

In an email from East Cambridgeshire District Council enforcement officer, Trevor Eagle, it is made clear, however, that this is only the council's 'informal' opinion.

The email goes on to say that the opinion is given at officer level only and does not prejudice any decision that might be taken in the future by council planners.

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At the end of the email Mr Eagle adds that he is leaving his job at the end of August and directs future discussion to his successor.

The decision on the Certificate of Lawfulness has left campaigners, who have fought vehemently to protect wildlife on the site, confused and angry.

"We have waited almost seven weeks for the council's response and have got nothing from it," said Liz Hunter, vice-chairman of the Campaign for the Protection of Rural Ely.

"It has taken the council all this time to discover that the application for a certificate is in the council's words 'invalid' and cannot be determined by the council. The application has been determined as 'undeterminable'.

"Our concern is to protect this precious wildlife habitat that gives such pleasure to so many people and we will continue to contest any plans for development at Roswell Pit. A proper planning application and an Environmental Impact Assessment would be the right path to follow."

Giles Hughes, head of planning at East Cambridgeshire District Council, said: "I would like to stress that these decisions do not mean the developer now has the right to move forward with any work he likes. If there is future work which is deemed necessary by the owner that requires planning permission, he should submit an application.

"We have consulted and used every appropriate tool under planning law regarding the work committed at this site. Where activities that require planning permission take place without consent we will take appropriate action."

Alan Dover, the council's principal development control officer, added: "If work continues on the site and it exceeds what can be done under permitted development then we will have to go to enforcement."

Jeremy Tyrrell said: "We have done our best, encouraged by the council, to make everything clear and transparent by applying for this certificate. It is not required to do the work we want to do. Aside from planning laws, however, there is a duty of care to wildlife which we continue to recognise.

"We cannot say at this stage what our next move is.

"We are, however, absolutely staggered that the council has released information to the press which they have not seen fit to let us know about.