Company's expansion into green belt approved

March 01 2020

Company's expansion into green belt approved

A COMPANY has won permission to expand its commercial premises in the green belt at Bitton.
Residents and parish councillors opposed the expansion saying it would bring too much extra traffic to the quiet country lanes leading to the site on New Pit Lane.
But South Gloucestershire Council granted Shield Logistics consent to build five new industrial units at Redfield Lodge Works saying it would have a “positive impact on the local economy” by “creating rural employment opportunities”.
The business is knocking down several “ramshackle” buildings to make way for the new units, four of which will be in a single-storey terrace, according to officers who recommended the application for approval.
The end result will be only “slightly” larger than the existing premises and cause a “slight” increase in light traffic, they said.
Their report indicated that building volume would rise by roughly a third, floor area by about 10 per cent, and vehicle movements by an estimated eight per day.
But 12 residents and Bitton Parish Council objected to the expansion arguing it was too much for the green belt site and the narrow, country lanes around it.
Parish councillors questioned the accuracy of the estimated extra traffic that the industrial expansion would generate.
Cllr Sue Hawking told a planning committee on February 6 that the officially designated “quiet lanes” are popular with ramblers and horse riders, but that rush hour traffic was already a “daily nightmare” for residents.
“If this goes ahead, it looks as if their quality of life is being ignored for the sake of industrial development,” Cllr Hawking said.
Maria Skuse, who has lived in a farmhouse next to the site for nearly 20 years, said that Shield’s plans would bring “no end of misery”.
“If this overdevelopment is successful, it will be really visible from our house and from Redfield Cottage next door and there will also be a real increase in noise which will obviously have a real impact on our lives,” she said.
But planning committee members said they felt the application brought controls over the site which would protect the community and the green belt from possible future harm.
Councillor Sara Pomfret said the current consent for the “untidy” site permitted “almost any industrial usage” and “almost any number of HGVs”.
“This proposal takes away all of that and gives us light industrial [usage] with a few extra cars,” she said.
The committee heard that the new development will have parking for up to 30 vehicles and a number of bicycles.
It is “not expected” that any heavy-goods vehicles will use the site, according to the officer report.
Only “light” industry will be permitted in the new units whereas the existing buildings have consent for “general” industrial use.
Landscaping will screen the development from the surrounding countryside, and the new buildings will be set back from the southern boundary to avoid “issues” with views or privacy for the Grade II listed Redfield Lodge Farmhouse.
A new road entrance will improve safety as vehicles access the site from New Pit Lane.
Claire Durbin, who spoke on behalf of Shield, said the company’s intention was to update the quality of the buildings to a “modern state” and provide a “well managed and regulated industrial estate”.
It had originally applied to build eight new units, a site office and a home on the land but had scaled back its plans on the advice of officers.
Councillor Mike Drew said it would be a “gamble” to refuse the application in the hope that no other business would buy the land and exploit the current consent.
Committee members voted unanimously to approve the application.

By Amanda Cameron, Local Democracy Reporting Service