Time up for Churchdown car wash

Land used as a popular car wash near Churchdown could be sold to travellers unless an enforcement notice to shut down the business is overturned.

The small plot near Gloucester North fire station on Cheltenham Road East is owned by James Timms Transport Ltd, but leased to a small team of hard working immigrants from Albania and Romania.

It serves up to 20 cars a day and provides services ranging from a £5 wash, to a full valet at £55. A team of four can be seen toiling away most days, and in all weathers.

But that could now come to an end after Tewkesbury Borough Council stepped in to slap an enforcement notice on the business.

The workers have been ordered to pack away their equipment and move off the land, 28 days after the notice takes effect on November 17.

Landowner James Timms, who leases it to the workers to run as a car wash, is now considering selling off the land to travellers.

“I wanted to use it as a yard for my transport business but decided against it,” he said.

“It has been used as a car wash for around a year. The original planning documents say it was once used as a break down and service area, for sales and auxillary parking.

“I’m not sure what the difference is from that and a car wash but shutting it down would put these lads out of work.

“I’ve had several offers to buy the land from travellers, so if it has to close, that will be my only option.”

The council has issued an enforcement notice against the making of a material change of use of the land to a car washing facility.

Although there was once a motor service station, the council said as it has not operated for a number of years, a different business needs planning permission.

The council has encouraged a retrospective planning application, but the offer is yet to be taken up.

One of the workers, who declined to be named, said: “Everyone here just wants to work hard and earn money for their family.

“No one here is claiming benefits, we all just want to be able to carry on.

“We do a good job, people know that and then come back again and again. If we didn’t there would be no work for us, but we are always busy.”

According to the borough council, it has received a ‘significant’ level of concern over the car wash from Churchdown Parish Council, nearby businesses and residents.

Churchdown Parish Council chairman Bill Whelan said: “I sympathise with the people who have rented the land as they were led to believe that planning permission was already in place.

“That isn’t the case as it is on Green Belt land, so action will be taken. They have invested their own money in getting the business up and running so they will lose out.”

The borough council’s development services manager Julie Wood said: “As with all breaches of planning control, we must take all cases very seriously.

“Following a significant level of local concern regarding the use of the site we have attempted to contact the landowner on several occasions to advise them of their options.

“We have unfortunately not been able to yet reach a resolution, and so believe it necessary to begin formal enforcement action.

“We would still like to encourage the landowner to engage with us as soon as possible, and we hope to find an acceptable solution.”