Meeting over Belhus lorry park raises more questions than answers

A ROUND TABLE discussion between all the key players involved in the dispute over the controversial development in the Howard Tenens site in Stifford Road, Aveley has raised more questions than answers.

As has become the norm in Thurrock, the matter of a lorry park has become a complicated issue. Suffice to say that this one involves the matter of an enforcement notice and the allegation of building on green belt land.

The matter is the subject of a planning inquiry next month but the group of councillors, businessmen and residents gathered together to discuss a number of the issues

For the sake of clarity YourThurrock has been given the minutes of the meeting and will publish them below.

But at the heart of the confusion is a series of seemingly contradictory statements by Belhus councillor Charlie Curtis.

In the middle of the meeting, the minutes state that he said he would be prepared to speak to planners about revoking the enforcement notices. A noble attempt. He may not get very far but you can only try.

The confusion arrives when reference is made to the details of a planning application regarding the site. The application makes reference to a road which would take traffic off the Stifford Road and around the side of the site.

In the meeting, the Belhus councillor asked “when the additional road had been proposed as he wasn’t aware of this in the application.”

But this appears to contradict his statement at a planning meeting at the Thurrock Thames Gateway Development Corporation (DC) meeting last year, when cllr Curtis made direct reference to the road and its siting stating: “You will know Mr Chairman that your organisation and mine (Veoila Markdyke Trust) have plans for that area.

YT will be looking for clarification from the Belhus councillor when we catch up with him as he seeks re-election in the local election campaign on May 5th.

For sake of clarity, here are the minutes that, we understand, have agreed by all those present.

Howard Tenens have a number of sites throughout the UK, and in 13 years have only sold 1 site as it was too small for their use. The Stifford Road site was bought in 2003, and includes the woodlands and recreation area.

Q. DL “Is Howard Tenens and illegal lorry park?”

A. DM HT site is all in Green Belt and has been developed since pre-war times. 18 acres of the site is classed as Major Development Site and Howard Tenens have developed outside of this boundary without permission. This is the area subject to enforcement notices. However, as this land had been previously developed, HT were not aware that they did not have the right to do so.
The rest of the site – the MDS – is operating with permission. Companies that are on site use lorries for business – the site is not used just for rest stops, so is not a lorry park (Truck Stop).

Q. CC “Is Chep Pallets owned by HT?”

A. No. Chep is a tenant on the site. They lease the land from HT.

Q. DL “The woodland is dying, what are the plans for this if planning permission is agreed”

Environmental surveys have shown that the sycamore has become more prevalent at the expense of native species, many of which were destroyed during the storm of `86.
Programme includes, clearing the woods, adding a footpath, removal of sycamore to encourage the re-establishment of native species.
Additional income is required to do all the listed improvements, and the expansion of the site into the area currently under the enforcement will generate that.

Highways have said that the current entrance is not ideal and agree that it should be moved. Through the enforcement appeal it has been proposed to relocate the entrance to the east of the existing entrance and carry out additional landscaping. If the appeal against the refused planning application is dismissed and the appeal on HT’s enforcement is successful the new entrance to the east will go ahead.

If the appeal is successful against TTGDC’s refusal of the planning application, the entrance will be relocated to the west through Hangman’s Wood, which is the best proposed solution for local residents as it will take all HGV movements away from nearby houses.

This proposed roadway through the woodland for HT’s main planning application appeal will be staked out, and all were invited to see how this will look, only two native trees will need to be removed for this to go through the woodland.

OPTIONS

If HT planning application appeal is successful,new entrance will be created through the woodland woods will be tidied and managed recreation area will be created improvements will be made to Sandy Lane restriction to stop HGV’s travelling through Aveley village. The Stifford Road layby will be removed

If HT lose planning but overturn the enforcement notices still make improvements to woodland contribute to improvements to r/bout on Stifford Road entrance will be moved towards properties alongside current office buildings create recreation area

If HT planning app is unsuccessful and enforcements upheld land outside the MDS will be reinstated to green belt no additional funds available for improvements
the MDS site will remain

Q. CS “what can HT do about HGV’s currently breaching the South Road 7.5 tonne restriction? If the entrance is moved, will HT guarantee that all HGV’s accessing site would not use North Road, South Road, Arisdale Ave, Stifford Road, Daiglen Drive?”

HT will sign up to a restrictive route subject to winning either the planning or enforcement appeal that will mean HGV’s using Sandy Lane/Stifford Road, and are looking to implement an island that will force all vehicles leaving the site to turn left.

SC explained that, following complaints from Aveley residents, a process was put in place to deal with drivers reported for using an inappropriate route. They are reported to their company, and the companies have imposed fines on the drivers. Complaints from Aveley residents have reduced significantly.
SL made the point that signage to South Ockendon is inadequate and additional signage directing traffic through Sandy Lane would prevent HGV traffic from coming in through the Sainsbury’s roundabout and down into Stifford Road at Ford Place.

Q.CS “How many local people work on the site and will the new development create local jobs”

Approx 80% of current workforce come from Thurrock and the new development should create approximately 200 jobs.

It will, however, also generate 1000 movements per day,
as a maximum. This will be a restrictive covenant that stops lorries escalating beyond this number surveys in the past have shown upto 750 lorry movements over a 24 hr period in the past with the present occupations

PP expressed the view that long term jobs are more beneficial than short term construction jobs for the existing community. CC said he would be prepared to speak to planners about revoking the enforcement notices.

CC asked when the additional road had been proposed as he wasn’t aware of this in the application, but SC assured him that moving the entrance was the priority for residents, and had been included when the plan was drawn up. This had been shared with ward members, and a letter sent to new ward members in summer 2010.

Q. SL “has this extension been refused due to the approved development on the Aveley by-pass, as it will devalue new properties?”

No, because the route will be in place before the properties are built, and therefore new residents will factor this in when they decide to buy move there.

Q. AA “Have HT felled ancient oaks on the site or destroyed any ancient woodland”

HT did clear a section of woodland from a previously quarried area of the site, to prevent vandalism. Youths were also hiding there and firing air rifles into the site at vehicles and guards. There were no Tree Preservation Orders on the trees and none were more than 25 years old. The Forestry Commission did contact HT to advise them that due to the number of trees felled, they should have made an application, even though the area was not subject to TPO.

Natural England have said that due to the sycamore, doing nothing with the woodland is not beneficial, and with 20 years management, the restored woodland should become strong enough to self-sustain.

Q. AA “Why cant the new road run around the outside of the woodland rather than cut through it?”

Following discussion with AA to this effect, HT made enquiries with the Highways Agency who own the land between HT site and the M25. HA require land for future potential development of the M25 and are not minded to sell.

HT arboriculturalist is of the opinion that removing the strong rooted species of trees from the perimeter of the woodland, which have the strongest root systems would expose the weaker trees, which would then out them at risk in high winds.

SUPPORT OR AGAINST the recommendation from DM is for residents to attend the hearing on 10th May, Council Chamber, Civic Offices, New Road, Grays.

GAS CANNISTERS these had been raised as a health and safety issue following concerns from residents, after an explosion in N. London.
The Health and Safety Exec have been out to visit the site, and recommendations from the Fire Officer have been complied with.
By April a new temporary gas filling station will be operational which will negate the need for canisters on site.

In Attendance:
Dan Morris – Howard Tenens
Steve Coombes _ Howard Tenens
Dee Lodge – resident
Simon Lodge – resident
Peter Perrin – resident
Chris Savill – Truckwatch
Amanda Arnold – Councillor Ockendon
Wendy Herd – Councillor Aveley
Charlie Curtis – Councillor Belhus

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