Industrial chimney on St Albans estate is still causing a stink for residents

Unhappy Meadowcroft residents

Unhappy Meadowcroft residents - Credit: Archant

A car-spraying firm is continuing to pump ‘noxious fumes’ into residents’ homes and gardens despite councillors voting unanimously against a retrospective planning application for an unsightly chimney.

The chimney, belonging to Citygate Automotive, was erected on a warehouse on the North Orbital Trading Estate in February - without permission. Since then, more than 100 residents have complained to the council that fumes from the eyesore had been causing headaches and respiratory problems.

Citygate later lodged a retrospective application for a change of use from ‘storage and distribution’ to ‘general industrial’ as well as an application to put a chimney on the front of the building.

Then in October, after months of putting up with the chemical plumes, more then 50 residents of Meadowcroft and nearby New Barnes Lane attended a planning committee meeting at which councillors would decide on both the change of use and the application for the chimney.

Meadowcroft resident Donald Munroe spoke on behalf of his neighbours and said that the fumes had “prevented children from being able to play outside, can be smelt inside with the windows open, and have caused residents to suffer headaches, sore throats, and display respiratory difficulties”.

Councillors subsequently rejected both of Citygate’s applications and ordered that enforcement officers visit the site to make sure that firm complied with the decision, with cllr Geoff Harrison saying: “To have to sit in your own back garden in a domestic area with this going on is totally inappropriate.”

However, this week, in an open letter to Citygate managing director Jonathan Smith, residents are pleading with the firm to cease using the chimney and comply with the councillors’ decision.

Most Read

The letter states: “Citygate’s activities at the property have caused a huge amount of distress to us residents – the smells and the noise have been intolerable.

“We are asking you to please cease your activities... You mentioned at the meeting that you are a parent to three children – we ask you to think about whether you would be prepared to have your children living on the door step of the sort of operation you are running.

“We are asking you to, please, do the right thing.”

District councillor Chris White said he was surprised that Citygate had continued using the chimney and added: “If the residents are still being affected then Citygate should stop.”

Mr Smith told the Herts Advertiser that Citygate had moved the chimney to the front of the building - further from the residential properties - which meant that it was no longer in danger of breaching any noise abatement regulations and said that the emmissions into residential areas would be reduced to almost zero.

He added: “We are working on the advice of the planners by moving the chimney to the front. We use water-based paints in the facility - there is nothing in there which would adversely affect any of the neighbours - so any suggestion that our emmissions are toxic is simply a mistruth.”

A district council spokesperson declined to comment on the issue because environmental and enforcement officer were investigating complaints.