A GOVERNMENT planning inspector has ordered that a former railway station car park can no longer be used as a car storage.

It was feared the unsightly area could put off passengers from using Weeley railway station and could eventually lead to its closure.

Tendring Council took enforcement action after Network Rail sold the former car park, off Clacton Road, and vehicles started to be stored on the old station forecourt.

The council said the change of use was unacceptable as it had an adverse effect on safety and access to the station and could deter people from using public transport.

The new landowner, Cromwell Estates, appealed against the enforcement notice, and after a hearing an independent planning inspector backed the council.

Inspector Kathryn Saward ruled that having cars stored there instead of coming and going was a material change of use, and the access to the station now available for cars was less safe as vehicles were forced to reverse close to the junction.

She said: “The council fears that without the ability to replace former facilities available there is a risk that use of the station will decline with the eventual loss of the facility.

“Rail users complain that the change of use is having a negative impact on their use through lack of parking provision and turning facility. Such factors could deter users.

“The appellant accepts that the stored vehicles may not be roadworthy, but claims that to the casual observer the cars are whole.

“If the use were to be allowed, then the vehicles stored could be in any condition.

“In my judgement, 20 or so cars which may not be roadworthy packed closely onto the site will invariably have a significant adverse effect on the appearance of the area.

“This is a prominent location occupying the former station forecourt where it is fully on display to those entering and leaving the station. It will hardly create a good impression of the area.

“Whilst it is adjacent to another site used for the storage and repair of vehicles, that site is not in such a prominent location. It is nowhere near as apparent.”

The inspector also agreed with the council that the fencing around the site should be removed.

The landowners have until late July to comply with the ruling. No-one at the site was available for comment.