Agenda item


Retrospective permission for the use of the land for wood chipping with wood storage yard and buildings to include; office building, chip stores, drying floor, fan house and boiler house with biomass plant to generate 80kw of electricity.


The application was approved with revised conditions.


(Retrospective permission for the use of the land for wood chipping with wood storage yard and buildings to include; office building, chip stores, drying floor, fan house and boiler house with biomass plant to generate 80kw of electricity.)


(Councillor Bowen fulfilled the role of local ward member and accordingly had no vote on this application.)

The Principal Planning Officer (PPO) gave a presentation on the application, and updates/additional representations received following the publication of the agenda were provided in the update sheet, as appended to these Minutes.

In accordance with the criteria for public speaking, Mrs A Egerton, of Luston Group Parish Council spoke in opposition to the Scheme.  Mr G Downes, a local resident, spoke in objection.  Mr R Williams, the applicant’s agent, spoke in support.

In accordance with the Council’s Constitution, the local ward member, Councillor WLS Bowen, spoke on the application.

He made the following principal comments:

·        The application was retrospective.  The business had grown in size and was now a major wood chipping plant.  It employed 17 people and was of importance to the local economy.

·        The wood chipper that had been used until quite recently had been noisy and a nuisance to residents.

·        Heavy goods vehicles and tractors with trailers visiting the site at all hours including late in the day and early in the morning also created noise and nuisance.

·        Luston Group Parish Council had objected to the application.  It suggested that it would be more appropriate if the business, given the scale it had now reached, were to relocate to the Leominster industrial estate.

·        The business was in conflict with the users of the footpath running through the site.  It was noted that a diversion was proposed.

·        A new chipper was understood to be less noisy.  It was also only on the application site itself for 9 hours of the week.  The rest of the time it was being used where trees were being felled.

·        Conditions were proposed to control working hours, provide screening to reduce noise nuisance and control traffic movement.  It was important that these were strictly monitored and enforced.  If they were not, the nuisance to residents would be too severe.  If the controls were effective the operation might be manageable.

In the Committee’s discussion of the application the following principal points were made:

·        The access road to the site was in poor repair and very dusty.  This created additional noise.  The surface should be made good.

·        The proposed conditions and the controls they proposed were welcome.  However, it would be essential that they were rigorously enforced. 

·        The nuisance a business of this nature generated and the difficulties in taking enforcement action should not be underestimated. 

·        The footpath was in very poor state badly affected by water run-off and needed to be diverted.

·        The Parish Council objected to the proposal and it was contrary to the Neighbourhood Development Plan which stated that small scale employment premises should not have a detrimental impact on surrounding residential amenity.

·        The success of the business had led to it growing to the detriment of the amenity of neighbouring residents.  A view was expressed that relocation to a less intrusive site should be considered.  A contrary view was that this would be costly and not practical.  The location was important to the success of the business.  Caution should be exercised in imposing conditions that might affect the viability of the business.

·        The business should bear in mind the importance of being a good neighbour.

In response to comments the PPO clarified the background to the timescale for consideration of the application.  She added that the applicant had been in discussion with Balfour Beatty Living Places and had offered to repair the bridge that the footpath crossed.  This had not as yet been accepted.  If planning permission were granted a route for the footpath diversion had been identified.  She considered that condition 4 requiring only one chipper to operate on the site at any given one time would be enforceable.  The mitigation proposed in condition 7 had been proposed by the applicant’s noise experts and accepted by the Environmental Health Officer.  Condition 9 could be tightened to remove permitted development rights.  A condition could also be imposed to make good the surface of the farm road.

The Lead Development Manager undertook to pursue the matter of the bridge repair.  He noted that condition 6 controlled the hours of operation of the chipper on site.  Given that a number of refinements needed to be made to the conditions he requested that officers be given delegated authority to make such amendments following consultation with the chairperson and local ward member.

The local ward member was given the opportunity to close the debate.  He noted the balance between supporting economic development and the impact on residential amenity and the importance of appropriate conditions and their enforcement if the application were to be approved.  Being a considerate neighbour was also an important consideration.

Councillor Baker proposed and Councillor Edwards seconded a motion that the application be approved and officers authorised to revise the conditions following consultation with the local ward member and the chairperson to reflect points made at the meeting.  The motion was carried with 7 votes in favour, 3 against and 2 abstentions.

RESOLVED:  That planning permission be granted subject to officers being authorised to finalise the conditions following consultation with the chairperson and local ward member and impose any further conditions considered necessary.


(The meeting adjourned between 12:45 and 12:50 pm)

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