Biker facing enforcement action from council

A biker is facing enforcement action from Stafford Borough Council for “unauthorised use” of a garage – but he says the site is only used to store motorcycles and they will be relocated to a new site in the coming weeks.

Rowley Grove
Rowley Grove

A local councillor has said residents’ lives had been made a misery by motorbike noise at garages to the back of Rowley Grove in Stafford. But Adam Evans, who runs an online motorcycle sales business, said repair work takes place at a site away from the garages and customers do not visit to test ride vehicles.

The Stafford resident added that an alternative site has now been found to store the motorbikes several miles away. His application to retrospectively change the use of the Rowley Grove garage in connection with the online sales was turned down by the borough council in June.

Ward councillor Angela Loughran urged planning committee members to back enforcement action at their latest meeting. She said: “Please help the people who live in this residential area to lead decent lives where they’re not being tormented with motorbike noise during the evening and weekend.

“There have been complaints about this business taking place. Planning only became involved after there were numerous complaints from a particular complainant about the excessive noise and disruption.

“People’s lives have been an absolute misery and they have kept logs quite religiously since 2020. They’re never acknowledged and you don’t know what is going to happen – when complainants got in touch with me they were at the end of their tether.

“As you can imagine the sale of motorcycles is allegedly an online business, but you don’t go and buy a motorbike without seeing if it works. The young man in question doesn’t even live in the area so there’s no disruption to his family life.

“Since the planning application was refused the activity has continued. He has been informed the business has not received planning permission but activities are still going on.”

Committee members unanimously agreed to allow enforcement action to go ahead. Councillor Jack Kemp said: “I feel for the neighbours concerned.

“In my ward I walked past a house – a brand new development – and in the garage there were about four or five motorbikes. One man cannot ride four motorbikes at once.”

The authority’s planning enforcement department was informed of the garage’s business use in September 2020, a report to the planning committee said. It added: “The site was visited on several occasions; no evidence of a business being run from the premises as garages were locked and there were no customers visiting.

“On 4 February 2021 the complainant was written to advising them that no business activity had been observed and no further action would be taken. Complainant asked to keep a log of any business activity and to contact Planning Enforcement again if the alleged business use continues.

“A report was received on 3 March 2021 regarding the motorbike business from the same complainant. As previously requested, the complainant provided a log of photographic evidence to support the enquiry.

“Planning Enforcement Officer emailed the owner of the business on 3 March 2021 advising them to cease trading from the premises or submit a planning application for the change of use.”

Mr Evans submitted a planning application for change of use of the garage in June 2021, but a decision was not made by the council until almost a year later.

The application was refused permission on the grounds of “adversely impacting on the amenities of the local area, noise and disturbance and highway safety”.

Mr Evans said there were a number of other motorbikes in the neighbourhood. Just one resident had complained to him about the garage use, he added.

“The space where I store my motorbikes is my mum’s place and I may come to visit my mum on my motorbike”, he said. “We store motorbikes, put them in a van and they get delivered all over the country.

“It is an online business and we don’t offer test rides. We don’t see any issue in what is happening here – we just store the product here which doesn’t create any noise.

“We have now found alternative storage and will be relocating. Stuff will be moved from there within the next two weeks.”

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