St Albans residents welcome rejection of plans to change use at units on industrial estate
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A unanimous vote against the latest bid by an car company to change the use of a warehouse close to homes in St Albans has been welcomed by residents.
Citygate Holdings had lodged a fresh application with St Albans council to change the use of a unit on the North Orbital Trading Estate in Napsbury Lane from warehouse and storage use to a mixed use, including an office and general industrial, the construction of external ducting and a single-storey extension to provide a jet wash booth.
But even though their officers had recommended approval of the scheme, councillors on a St Albans planning committee voted unanimously on Monday night to reject the application.
The latest application follows a planning inspector’s decision in the summer not to allow the change of use of two units on the trading estate to general industrial use.
The inspector 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 of Meadowcroft and New Barnes Lane.
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Both long-time resident Donald Munro and St Albans councillor Robert Donald, who has championed the cause of neighbours of the scheme, spoke about the unsuitability of the site at Monday’s planning meeting and said that Citygate had not made a convincing case for the change of use.
Cllr Donald said: “There is no justification or need for this use in this location. The proposed use is too close to residents in Meadowcroft, only 10 metres away from their homes and gardens.”
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To cheers from around 30 residents at the meeting, Cllr Katherine Gardner, said the law was that planning permission should be obtained first before a change of use went ahead.
She accused Citygate of causing misery to local people and riding roughshod over the opinion of the committee and the appeal decision. She added: “It seems to me completely unreasonable for local residents to have to tolerate this over a sustained period of time which seems to be what the applicant expects them to do.”
The application was rejected primarily on the grounds of noise and disturbance.
After the meeting one of the Meadowcroft residents Susie Wyeth said they were feeling ‘pretty positive’ about the outcome, adding: “Both times this has been rejected and the main issue is the impact neighbours are having with that kind of business there.”
* An application from CAD Stairs for a change of use of another unit on the trading estate to general industrial use was withdrawn.