A CONTROVERSIAL plan to allow a builder’s depot to open on an industrial estate that can only be accessed by a road through a residential area already blighted by lorries has been approved.
Councillors conceded they didn’t particularly like the application by the Hills Building Group and Mersea Homes for the site on the Stanhope Industrial park in Stanford-le-Hope but they had little alternative but to pass it.
Their concern was summed up by a councillor who said: “We are between a rocks and a hard place.”
A decision on the application had been delayed for a site visit, which did result in councillors insisting on a new planning condition, to ensure the new site was screened off from view of the new Mucking country park – but they admitted that would be of little consolation to residents on Wharf Road who had campaigned against approval.
The industrial park was formerly home to the Fisons fertiliser plant, which meant planning permissions are still in force allowing a high volume of industrial traffic to the site, which also houses the base for Squibb Demolition, against whom residents have been objecting for several years because of the size and frequency of lorry traffic.
History and existing uses mean residents in a residential area that has expanded considerably feel they are being let in an intolerable position.
That was acknowledged by councillor Phil Anderson who said: “This application will undoubtedly raise the level of HGV movement on Wharf Road. People will be looking at this committee to see what we will be doing about it. But it is deemed impossible for use to refuse planning permission for lorries to use this site.”
He questioned whether the site’s usage should remain purely for industry and that the planning conditions ought to reflect a change in the area, concluding by saying: “Is purely industrial use right for this site in 2012?”
The frustration of members was encapsulated by Cllr Barry Palmer, a veteran of many years of planning battles against HGV movements in East Tilbury, who said: “At the end of the day we are between a rock and a hard place. If Fisons were still there there would be more intensive industrial traffic than we have got now.
“Residents will feel we are allowing more lorry movements but I feel we have no alternative but to support this application.”
And councillors then did just that, supporting their officers recommendation for approval.