In December Longham Parish Council made formal responses to the provisional Norfolk’s Minerals and Waste Development Framework Issues & Options ( Preferred Options) Sites document. Copies of these responses are available here: Waste Site Application | Mineral Site Applications.
Continuing the local opposition to the planning application to reroute the HGV traffic travelling to and from the Punch Farm works in Beeston so as to bring them down the C229 and through Wendling village, Andy Bass has written a comprehensive letter of objection, the contents of which are posted below for your information:
Planning & Transport Department
Norwich NR1 2SG
1st September 2009
Reference: Punch Farm Quarry Access & Haul Road SP/C/3/2008/3022.
Thank you for the extension offered to me due to the non-receipt of the letter sent on the 18th August. Please find enclosed my views and additional statement of objection to the planning application above.
There seem to be several reasons why this application should not be passed and where the company has not shown either a current business or legal need for the proposed changes to the permissions already in place.
The term ‘deemed unsuitable’ used in the Planning Statement are not explained and no actual technical reasons are given to support the businesses need for this application. The Watery Lane access has been in use since the mid-1970s with no accidents or emergencies. As the site is unable to increase output, due to the historically low levels of gravel extraction, there seems to be no accessibility or safety reasons for permission to be granted in this case.
At a public meeting at Wendling on 12th August 2009 is became apparent, only after extensive and pressurised questioning, that this Application may be partly the result of East Anglian Stone’s desire to begin recycling waste at the site. Firstly, the site does not have permission to recycle waste and secondly, as far as my neighbours and I are concerned, neither is a proposal for such within the existing Norfolk Minerals & Waste Development Framework consultation documents. Why then is this being verbally stated as a requirement when the County’s Planning Department has passed no such plans?
The Statement also states that between 5 & 6 lorries will leave the site daily. If these lorries are those filled with gravel leaving the site this is not taking into account the empty arrivals. The actual increase in traffic would therefore be 10 – 12 additional lorry movements per day on country lanes already overly congested with Heavy Goods Vehicles. Further cumulative effects would be seen if the waste recycling site were given permission. The 10 – 12 movements proposed in this application would be increased to unacceptable and unsafe levels due to those HGVs and other vehicles filled with waste material.
A further concern is, the maps and plans within the Norfolk Minerals & Waste Development Framework consultation documents highlight that it would be fair to assume there are other proposed sites (Min 23, 61, 68 and 100) that would also benefit from the passing of this application. Again this would seem to be a backdoor approach to gaining planning advantage without stating intention in advance and a means of not fully involving local residents in the planning process.
According to a letter I received from the Planning & Transport Department in reply to a prior telephone conversation. It would seem that it has been deemed unnecessary by the Highways Officers in charge of this case to produce a comprehensive road safety report. And by simply driving the route (presumably by car) is has been possible for them to assess the suitability of accessing the Litcham Road C222 at the proposed point without being in an Heavy Goods Vehicle. Further the ability of the road to accommodate two passing HGVs and the safety of other road users has been calculated without fully examining the facts. I do not agree with the assessment of the C222’s ability to carry numerous HGVs safely along its length from the quarry site to the junction with the C229 Reed Lane. The C222 is a major link between the local villages and cars are legally able to travel at sixty miles per hour along this lane, and often do so. As meeting a lorry on a slippery, often-muddy road, which is not capable of allowing free passage to passing traffic, will eventually lead to accidents I would suggest that a thorough investigation should be carried out (Independent if at all possible). A report needs to be produced, and should include a test as to whether two lorries can safely pass along the entire proposed route (without mounting the verges as in Winter mud, ice and debris along this route have been the cause of several accidents in the past).
Lastly (although not an issue as I believe this application should not be passed), in the title of a letter addressed to me it clearly states ‘The closure of existing access to Watery Lane’ as part of the proposal. However, in its statement the company states that ‘local deliveries’ will still use Watery Lane and the access point to the site located therein. Again, proving my point, there is no reason to change the access to the site as the company deems it fit for purpose when it suits them to use it. If there are truly only six lorries a day leaving the site then the current permissions are more than adequate for the company to run its business successfully.
In closing this matter has raised serious questions as to the processes being employed when dealing with planning applications for the extraction of sand and gravel in the area and to the movement of HGV vehicles throughout the network of minor lanes locally. If this application is passed there ought to be a public inquiry into the reasons why it was passed, the events and decisions made leading up to the decision.
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