The chicken sheds are all too large, the buildings are closer to the A14 than allowed, the access road is narrower than approved and the design of the buildings differs from the original planning application.
Yet, the firm behind the poultry farm development at Galley Hill Farm on the edge of Hemingford Grey looks unlikely to have to raze the buildings and start again in order to conform to the original planning permission.
Instead its retrospective planning application has been recommended for approval by Huntingdonshire District Council’s planners.
The eight chicken sheds – each 18 metres longer than allowed under the current planning permission granted by HDC in October 2010 – measure 104m by 23m and should be allowed to stay, according to HDC.
Amber Real Estate Investments Ltd said the sheds, pictured, were built incorrectly because of a mix up with a new building supplier.
HDC admits that residents may find this explanation and the situation “irritating” but a report to the council’s development management panel on Monday (November 18) stresses that a planning authority must not use its powers “as an attempt to punish an applicant for not complying with a planning permission”. It adds that the council has to adhere to planning law and consider only the planning merits of the scheme. The report goes on to point out that the applicant has paid a “fee in the order of £40,000” to submit its new application.
Opponents to the scheme – including Hemingford Grey and St Ives councils – say it is not “credible that such a mistake could have been made regarding the size of the sheds” and protest that it would have an impact on traffic – more lorry movements to take delivery of more birds – and cause more nuisance from odours.
But the agencies responsible for these issues – the Highways Agency, Highways Authority, and the Environment Agency – put forward no objections.
There was also some concern that allowing Amber to keep its super-sized sheds would set an healthy precedent – allow other companies to build what they wanted and apply retrospectively for permission.
But allowing Amber planning permission, says HDC, will not set a precedent.
It will however allow the company to farm between 330,000-450,000 broilers at a time – a process it can repeat seven times a year, allowing for the birds to grow and the cleaning of the sheds in between groups.
The development management panel meets at Pathfinder House on Monday, 7pm.