‘You’ve got a year to get out’

Business hit by shock planning blunder.

A business which has successfully traded from temporary buildings on an industrial estate near Honiton for four years has been given 12 months to relocate.

East Devon District Council says Mavericks tattoo studio is “unsuitable for an industrial estate in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty”.

The news has come as a bolt out of the blue for owner Neil Murphy, who says the council knew all about the tattoo studio when he first opened it at East Devon Business Park, Offwell.

The council issued his certification to trade as a tattoo artist.

Mr Murphy received a visit from a council official last summer, more than three years later, and was told he needed to apply for change of use.

The retrospective application was granted earlier this month, but for a temporary period only.

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He has been told to get off the site by January next year and to restore the land to its former condition - even though it was overgrown when he took it over.

“I can’t afford to relocate and people will lose their jobs,” Mr Murphy told the Herald.

“I understand everybody has got a job to do, but what I don’t understand is why now - when we have never had a complaint in any way?”

A spokesman for East Devon District Council said: “If a breach of planning policy comes to our attention, it is our duty to investigate and, if necessary, enforce it – in fairness to all those people and businesses in the district who are operating legitimately from their chosen premises.

“In this case, it is against planning policy for a business such as this to be trading from a rural location. Such a business is more appropriately accommodated in the High Street, where it is more easily accessible by public transport.

“In recognition of the fact that the business has been trading for some time and to demonstrate a desire to enable Mr Murphy time to find alternative premises, we have given him permission to continue trading from his current address for up to a year, rather than refusing permission and taking enforcement action.

“We would be happy to help Mr Murphy in his search for new premises, in terms of advising him of the best locations and whether a potential site is likely to be suitable.”

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