St Albans residents hoping planning result will prevent issues closer to their homes
PUBLISHED: 13:30 05 September 2016
Danny Loo Photography 2016
Residents celebrating a planning inquiry result which should spell the end of a car spraying business on their doorsteps are hoping that the ruling will prevent similar uses close to their homes.
Citygate Holdings had appealed against St Albans council’s decision to refuse a retrospective planning application to change the use of units 15 and 16 on the North Orbital Trading Estate in St Albans from storage and distribution to general industrial use.
The retrospective application followed a huge outcry from nearby residents in Meadowcroft and New Barnes Lane, St Albans, who complained about noise and noxious fumes from the unit which is used for car spraying..
Citygate moved a chimney to the front of the building and further away from residents and contested the claim that its emissions were toxic,
But planning inspector Isobel McCretton ruled that it had not been clearly shown that the Citygate premises were suitable for general industrial use because of the noise and disturbance to residents.
She accepted that suitable filters could overcome the problems of fumes and controls could be put on the hours of operation but the location was such that the jet washing and vacuuming of cars at the side of the building would continue to impact on the lives of residents.
Ms McCretton commented that local residents were concerned that if industrial use was allowed at the Citygate premises, it would set a precedent for industrial uses in other units which backed on to homes.
Among them is mother of one Susie Wyeth, of Meadowcroft, who has another baby on the way and has had her life turned upside down since CAD Stairs moved into unit 9 on the trading estate.
She said that just after January 2015, work had started on the unit at the end of her garden and since then she had suffered constant noise from sawing and the ventilation fan as well as fumes from the burning of wood. Her 19-month-old daughter could only play in the garden on Sunday or when there were no fumes.
She went on: “The crux of the problem is noise six days a week. It starts before 6am some days and I have had mornings when it has woken me up and I have had to shut the windows. Nine times out of 10 it is the noise which wakes me up.”
She went on: “We have lived here for nine years and never had any kind of noise or issues from the industrial estate until they moved in.”
Suzie added: “The reason they were only granted permission for storage and distribution was because of the location and proximity to homes.”
District councillor Robert Donald who supported the residents at the Citygate public inquiry welcomed the outcome and the inspector’s view that change of use was not warranted which he described as the crucial issue.
“The units can be used for storage and distribution but not light industrial or industrial use and that is the crux of it.”
He said planning rules allowed the council to permit light industrial use where it was environmentally acceptable which it clearly wasn’t so close to homes.
Cllr Donald said CAD had applied retrospectively for change of use but the application had been put on hold pending the Citygate appeal result. In light of that, he expected the officers would turn it down.