St Albans neighbours are left fuming over unexplained chimney

Local residents Mr and Mrs King, Alan Malin, Cllr Robert Donald and Donald Munro in front of the lar

Local residents Mr and Mrs King, Alan Malin, Cllr Robert Donald and Donald Munro in front of the large chimney installed by a warehouse on the neighbouring industrial estate - Credit: Archant

The sudden installation of a large chimney at an industrial warehouse backing on to neighbours’ gardens has left them fearing the harmful effect it may have.

Residents in Meadowcroft, St Albans – directly behind the North Orbital Trading Estate in Napsbury Lane – are rallying after an extractor fan was suddenly put in place at the back of one of the site’s units.

Neighbour Donald Munro said: “I was away for a fortnight in Scotland and when I came back I found out that a chimney had suddenly appeared out of the blue at the back of the building.

“To my knowledge, no-one locally heard anything about this change and residents are now faced with an obtrusive eyesore.”

He added that the construction and scale of the chimney had left neighbours questioning whether the warehouse – the use of which is restricted to storage and distribution – would now start to extract noxious fumes, which could potentially be harmful.

Donald said residents had heard that the current tenants – a car preparation shop – would start panel beating and paint spraying.

He said: “The fact that this is a paint shop is not the use it was originally intended for as the units are restricted to repair work of their own equipment.

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“Either the planning permission has been granted when it shouldn’t have been or the occupiers are flouting their planning regulations.”

Cunningham ward councillor Robert Donald said: “The visual appearance of this flue chimney is very large and alarming for residents as it is just a few metres away.

“At this stage we don’t know if there is going to be smells or potentially harmful fumes coming out of it and whether it has been put in possibly without any planning permission, as we suspect.

“Above all, residents are really frustrated about the lack of information and the fact it suddenly appeared out of thin air without anyone knowing.”

He added fuel to the fire by criticising the council for its slow response and for having failed to notify the nearest residents before it was put in place.

Tracy Harvey, the council’s head of planning, said: “We have received a complaint about an industrial unit on the North Orbital Trading Estate.

“Both our planning enforcement and our environmental health teams are investigating the matter and as part of this we have inspected the site.”