St Albans campaigners fighting invasive industrial activity demand council enforces planning conditions

Angela can see the Citygate warehouse from her garden.

Angela can see the Citygate warehouse from her garden. - Credit: Archant

Campaigners fighting a losing battle against invasive industrial activity are imploring the council to make the pill easier to swallow by enforcing planning conditions.

Angela can see the Citygate warehouse from her garden.

Angela can see the Citygate warehouse from her garden. - Credit: Archant

In 2016 St Albans district council (SADC) blocked Citygate Holdings from using unit 15 and 16 on St Albans’ North Orbital Trading Estate for manufacturing work - which included car spraying.

The company did not realise activity on the site was restricted to warehouse and distribution before they started operating.

Residents neighbouring the units, and members of the Meadowcroft and New Barnes Avenue Action Group, have fought against two retrospective planning applications and appeals relating to the work, claiming the intolerable noxious fumes and invasive noise it creates makes their gardens and homes uninhabitable.

Affected neighbours were “bitterly disappointed” to hear SADC’s earlier refusal was overturned at the most recent appeal by a Secretary of State planning inspector Jonathan Price.

To dampen the blow conditions were attached including the installation of carbon filters and a jet wash booth, and restricted working hours.

A month after the decision, residents report the problems are still ongoing and are questioning if conditions have been complied with - they have asked SADC to step in and make sure.

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Angela Beattie, who lives in Meadowcroft, said it is “absolutely rubbish” and she is really angry: “We haven’t got the money to fight the decision. It would have obviously cost us a lot of money and we have decided we just have to accept it - so we just have to fight to make sure the council actually goes in and enforces what the inspector has said.

“It seems everything is stacked against us, and for business - it’s all stacked against the little people really.”

The group has also been fighting the same issue with a different company on the other side of the estate - wooden staircase company CAD Stairs are also carrying out industrial activity in their warehouse unit, submitting retrospective planning applications for the work.

Angela said they have to accept the Citygate battle is lost, and turn their attention to fighting CAD.

“It’s mostly in the summer, I simply have to come in from the garden, I can’t be in the garden and open the windows. I am really angry because our gardens are part of our homes and when we bought these houses in this nice little area we did so on the understanding that we would never have to face this. We never ever expected that they would be turning the warehouses into industrial units.”

She is worried the ruling on Citygate has set a precedent for CAD, which has also lodged an appeal against SADC’s refusal of their retrospective planning application.

A letter sent from the action group to SADC said: “We are bitterly disappointed with the appeal decision, which is against the recommendation of the council, two planning committee unanimous refusals, and the decision of the previous inspector. We therefore look to planning enforcement to support us in trying to make the most of a situation which, at present, is still blighting our community.”

Head of planning for SADC, Tracy Harvey, said: “We have scheduled the planning inspector’s decision for action, including a site inspection to confirm whether or not the necessary works have been carried out. If the conditions have not been complied with, the council has a number of potential courses of action open to it including serving a formal enforcement notice.”