Saturday, 14 January 2017

The mysterious and unpredictable world of planning

Aggregate Industries will be looking to put anything up to 200 HGV movements per day onto Birdcage Lane, as part of its crazy haulage scheme to and from Uffculme 23 miles away.

Birdcage Lane is a quiet country lane. It sees one or two trucks a week for rubbish and recycling collections. It’s used for walking, running, cycling and horse-riding.

Now look at a planning application that came before DCC last year, DCC/3863/2016, an application - involving a similarly narrow country lane - that proposed an increase in the number of HGVs bringing waste to an industrial site near Cheriton Bishop, an increase from one to three movements per day.

Not HGV movements of the 44-tonne AI kind, more like the "10 tonne tractor/trailer combo" farming kind.

Letters of objection were lodged, but Mid Devon District Council had no objection, nether did the Environment Agency nor the Highways Authority. Planning officers recommended approval "in accordance with the policies of the Waste Local Plan"

However, the DMC committee went against that advice, and considered that three movements a day "would have an adverse impact on the peaceful enjoyment of the countryside and of the individual residences". In fact, the full refusal considered that the proposal was not in accordance with the Waste Local Plan:
It is considered that the increase in traffic as a result of the proposal would have an unacceptable impact on the amenity of residential properties close to the roads leading to the application site and upon the peaceful enjoyment of the countryside, in terms of traffic noise and vibration, contrary to policy W18 of the adopted Devon Waste Local Plan.
Policy W18: Quality of Life:
Peoples’ quality of life and amenity will be protected from the adverse effects of waste management development and transportation…
That might have been the end of it, had the applicant not appealed. DCC then argued that:
The DMC were mindful of the representations as reported in the committee report which included 19 letters of objection from local residents and an objection from the Local Member (Devon County), as well as representations made at the DMC by [a local resident], who spoke on behalf of a number of members of the local community.
15. ... the private residential gardens of the properties extend up to the road and occupiers’ ability to enjoy their outdoor space is an important component of their quality of life.
17. The frequency of noise and vibration events would increase significantly as a result of the proposal...
22. I have found above that the proposal would result in a significant increase in HGV movements along the haul route to the site. I consider that the greater frequency of noise and vibration events related to HGV movements would erode the tranquil character of the surrounding rural area. I also consider that this increase would adversely affect the ability of local people to peacefully enjoy the lanes and surrounding area through activities such as walking, running, cycling and horse-riding.
All things to bear in mind when AI launch their planning application for a quarry just a stone's throw from nearby homes with 100,000 HGV movements thrown in for good measure. How much will the living conditions of nearby residents and the peaceful enjoyment of the countryside come into it then??