The Committee is asked to consider the proposal regarding the variation of condition 8.
Nick Bainton, Senior Planning Officer advised the Committee that he had received a late representation and request in relation to Condition 26 (page 182 of the report) of the application. The request asked if the application were to be approved, could the proposed Condition be amended to: “A routeing and vehicle speed strategy shall be submitted to and approved in writing by the Waste Planning Authority within 3 months from the date of this permission in order to address local concerns in relation to the vehicle manoeuvres through Nailsworth, Beverston and Tetbury. The approved strategy shall be implemented and adhered to throughout the duration of the development”.
The late representation explained that the proposed changes would help to ensure that the effects of an approval on Nailsworth residents living on the A46 (in particular) were minimised, while ensuring the hard-won speed reduction measures that were due to implemented in Nailsworth in the near future are acknowledged and respected.
The Case Officer advised the Committee that the wording for this condition had been provided by the Highways Authority; therefore it was not within his gift to amend the wording. Also the speed of vehicles on the public highway network was an issue for the police.
It was noted that the Case Officer had requested the applicant to consider the inclusion of ‘Nailsworth’ within the routeing strategy required by Condition 26.
A summary of the application was presented by Nick Bainton, Senior Planning Officer aided by a power point presentation. The Case Officer proceeded to the main presentation and explained the proposal before the Committee was a planning application by Valley Trading Limited for the variation of condition 8 (throughput) relating to planning consent 09/0036/CWMAJW dated 15/01/2010 to increase the annual throughput from 45,000 tonnes to 75,000 tonnes at Babdown Industrial Estate, Babdown Airfield, Beverston, nr Tetbury, Gloucestershire.
The Committee referred to the site location plan at slide 2, the Case Officer orientated members in terms of the site and the closest residential properties.
The photograph on slide 3 showed the site location within the existing Babdown Industrial Estate on the former wartime airfield, located to the south west of Beverston. The 3.5 Ha site was rectangular in shape and formed part of the larger 13.2. Ha industrial estate. The land surrounding the estate comprised of agricultural fields.
It was explained the view was of the site from the north. There were no adjacent residential properties to the site, with the closest being Babdown Cottages, 750 metres from the site. Views of the site from the landscape were screened by the existing industrial estate and the established bund and planting which bordered the south, west and east boundaries of the site. It was noted that the site was located within a protected landscape; the Cotswold Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).
Slide 4 showed the view from the same location as the previous slide, but looking north to the A4135. Beverston Bridleway 14 ran left to right at this point. Slide 5 displayed the view of the site from the north-west corner of the screening bund. The bund adorned the south, west and east boundaries of the site, with mature planting. The Case Officer advised the Committee that the enclosed processing building was visible towards the rear of the site, and was screened from view by the neighbouring industrial units.
Slide 6 showed the bund on the west boundary, with accompanying mature planting. Slide 7 depicted the view from the point of access east along the A4135. Slide 8 displayed the view west along the A4135, with a view of Babdown Cottages between the two road signs.
Members noted slide 9 which showed the view west along the A4135 towards the junction with the A46 in the vicinity of Calcot Manor and Spa. Slide 10 displayed the view east along the A4135 with the entrance to Calcot Manor and Spa on the left. Slide 11 showed the relationship between the location of the site, the Cotswold AONB and Zone C, where strategic waste management facilities would be preferred.
The Case Officer drew members attention to slide 12 which referred to Section 7, on page 31 of the report, which detailed that the main considerations material to the determination of this planning application to vary condition 8 (throughput) of planning consent 09/0036/CWMAJW to increase the annual throughput from 45,000 tonnes to 75,000 tonnes. These were noted as:
• The extent to which this development complies with national planning policies and the policies of the Development Plan for Gloucestershire;
• Impact of the additional traffic created;
• Impact of the development on the special qualities of the Cotswold AONB;
• Impact of the development on heritage assets in nearby settlements.
It was explained that additional issues had been raised through consultees which related to:
• The necessity for an Environmental Impact Assessment;
• The appropriateness of the County Council to determine a planning application according to the provisions of Section 73 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.
• The impact of the proposal on the Council’s climate change commitment.
Members were advised that the report had addressed the need for an Environmental Statement and the mechanism for consideration of the proposal.
The proposal was considered to be consistent in context with the County Council’s Climate Emergency Declaration.
The proposal was considered to comply with the guidance in the NPPF, particularly Paragraph 80, 83, 109, 172 and 193, National Planning Policy for Waste, Paragraph 1, Policy WCS3, WCS4, WCS14, WCS16, WCS18 and WCS19 of the Gloucestershire Waste Core Strategy and Policy EN4, EN5 and INF4 of the Cotswold District Local Plan”.
The Case Officer summarised that on balance, it was considered that the proposal complied with the Development Plan, National Planning Policy and any other relevant policies or Guidance and where there is a conflict with any Policy, other material considerations; the potential impact of the extra HGV traffic – which represented a 0.2% increase in highway traffic, the potential impact to the Cotswolds AONB and the potential impact upon heritage assets were all considered to either not be significant enough to recommend refusal or alternatively they were capable of mitigation.
The Chairman invited the registered speaks to address the Committee. The facilitator recapped the order of speakers for the benefit of the public via You Tube.
Mr Richard Ball (Objecting):
“Chairman of the committee.
I'm the CEO of Calcot collection hotels, we have owned the hotel for over 36 years, repurposing it from a redundant farm to current operation, which employs over 200 staff directly. Calcot is visited by 22,000 hotel visitors every year many from overseas. We therefore support a significant micro economy of small suppliers, retail outlets and visitor attractions but I suggest this is critical to this local economy. These visitors spend well in the struggling communities and visitors visit many visitor attractions providing employment in the region. Calcot probably directly support 1000 jobs or more in the local community.
The increased traffic that it will generate, will directly impact our business. We chose to locate in an AONB because we understood it to be a protected area. Protected from unreasonable incursion or industrial development. Protected by policies such as the Tetbury neighbourhood plan and the waste course strategy, both of which I think will be largely overlooked if this application is allowed to pass.
Despite this “protection” we have before us today an application which is going to enlarge a waste facility in the midst of this AONB, to capacity that is as large as the site that serves the city of Bristol.
This application will take the capacity to way over 50,000 ton threshold that demands exceptional circumstances and rigorous inquiry. Where are these exceptional circumstances or what they are that outweigh the importance of tourism and heritage in the AONB that is clearly stated in policy.
Valley Trading is not even operating at capacity. Approving this without greater cause sets a dangerous precedent that poses a risk to torrent sites right across the AONB. Is this the future we have in mind for our region, if we believe tourism is important to our economy, we have to afford it a greater measure of protection?
And where is the rigorous inquiry? The traffic report which took place in the absence of the required data that valley trading are required to keep, was carried out on the day when the road was closed in one direction, this beggars belief and it did not even extend to counting the traffic flowing west from the site past Calcot, it only counted in one direction. The conclusion that a 67% increase in waste capacity would lead to only 12 extra lorries past Calcot, is laughable questionably inaccurate and the process used, surely does not meet the policy of rigorous examination.
Beyond the legality, let me make it absolutely clear that the scale of the uplift, contained in this application is meaningful and one that directly put these jobs and the economy at risk.
The report claims that the rooms at Calcot are protected from the road by car parks, this is not correct 18% of the rooms back directly onto the road and have pillows within three metres of dozens of skip trucks breaking hard as they approach the crossroads.
Once again, I ask where is the rigorous examination. A further 15% of these rooms in the main house have windows facing the A4135. Over a third of our rooms are impacted, it is not unusual for us to handle half a dozen strong complaints each week from people who are unlikely to return. This materially affects the viability of our business and I ask you, is the case for the expansion of the Valley trading so irrefutable, that our business which has supported possibly 1000 rural economy jobs in 36 years should be put at risk.
I should make it absolutely clear that we accept the presence of Valley trading at Babdown, but we can only co-exist if the perfectly reasonable limitations that were imposed in the original consent are maintained. These limitations were considered necessary to protect the AONB in 2001, they’ve already been increased once in 2010. What possible legal justification is there for increasing again. Thank you”
Mr Adam Rabone (Objecting):
“Thank you Chairman and Committee Members.
My name is Adam Rabone and I'm a chartered town planner. Decisions makers are required to determine applications in accordance with policy. The law permits deviation if material considerations allow, but as the NPPF states ‘permission should not usually be granted’ if there is a conflict.
This application is classed as major developments and approval would redefine the site as a strategic waste facility as it will push capacity far past the 50,000 tonne limit to 75,000 tonnes. The development plan states unequivocally that strategic waste facilities must be located within zone C. Please note policy does not state this as a preference outside of the AONB. Therefore there are numerous policy conflicts confirmed to you within the committee report.
Zone C is part of a carefully planned spatial strategy which was drafted following years of sustainability testing, public consultation and extremely rigorous public examination process. Zone C primarily exist to protect the AONB and its special assets inappropriate development by directing major strategic waste facilities to other locations. Note there is no embargo on smaller facilities such as currently operated by the applicant and there is no reason this business would fail if the application is refused. Within the AONB and in alignment with the NPPF, policy EN5 and WCS14 confirmed that for major developments such as this planning permission should be refused except in exceptional circumstances, it must be subject to the most rigorous examination. The applicants must demonstrate how the development is in the public interest and that it needs, can be met elsewhere, this should be taken into account.
Paragraph 7.50 of the committee report confirms there is unused wasted capacity outside of the AONB, therefore there is no public need shown for the is development or a business case.
In fact approval would be in conflict with the quite exceptional requirements adopted in the AONB Policy and in the zones spatial policy. So to grant a lawful consent, councillors must be satisfied that material considerations are sufficient to overcome conflict. In weighing this, please be mindful that policies would protect the AONB and the Zone C strategy are some of the most strongly worded robustly tested policies that form the fundamental underpinning of the whole plan.
However, far from being clear, I do struggle to identify what the material considerations are from the report, nor can I find sufficient supporting evidence, particularly in relation to any public benefits source of waste, waste size, site operations, and traffic impact on the business case.
I note the report states they'll get negligible increase in traffic impacts, I ask how can adopted policies be so wrong and exceeding the threshold by 25,000 tonnes, resulting in negligible impact. It simply doesn't make any sense the only explanation is that current impacts the tranquillity; heritage; tourism and businesses have been severely underestimated.
Symptomatic of this is the lack of recognition of Tetbury neighbourhood plans, clear objections added HGV traffic through the historic town. Reports also suggest that HGVS will be removed from the highway network, I find this conclusion illogical.
For example please refer to figure 3 on page 168 which shows huge areas of the applicants catchment area beyond AONB boundary, increased capacity is approved it could only draw additional HGV traffic directly into the heart of the Tetbury from Cheltenham, Gloucester Stroud, Cirencester and Swindon. There’s no evidence to support the reports conclusion. Finally this is a section 73 application, which in law is a new planning permission and not simply an add on. Please do not be swayed because there is an existing business operating it's only been there since 2001.
To conclude I cannot find any material consideration presented which overcomes the weight of policy, indeed I am concerned that an approval would be legally challenged. I ask you not to set a terrible precedent and not erode the sustainable spatial strategy so carefully crafted and adopted in policy. Thank you”
Mrs Caroline Lowsley-Williams (Objecting):
“Everyone agrees that if this application goes ahead there will be a lot more Valley Trading Lorries on the roads. This will have a huge impact on the roads of our AONB, the towns of Nailsworth and Tetbury, plus the villages of Beverston, Horsley, Tetbury Upton and Kingscote – an area which can rightly claim to be the southern gateway to the Cotswolds. This 75,000 tonne application significantly means the 50,000 tonne cap for such a unit in an AONB is disregarded, so we need to be absolutely clear why Valley Trading needs this extra capacity. We need proper figures and an in depth traffic impact survey. Many local people, of the 154 public comments 141 (that’s 90%) raised traffic as an issue, mostly worried about the volume of traffic but also concerns were raised about the CO2 omissions and adverse effects on the environment.
Living locally to Tetbury, and having seen first-hand the impact on Tetbury’ s listed buildings and shops that are subjected to the passing Valley Trading lorries – historic Long Street shudders at the skips and shakes to its core when the articulated waste lorry passes by. This application directly contravenes Tetbury’ s neighbourhood plan. It has more potential impact on the area than the proposed Anaerobic Digester here at Chavenage permission refused in 2016, citing traffic issues as well as the site being in an AONB.
The traffic assessments have not been rigorous. The County Highways officer himself states, that, “Given that there were road works on the A4135 on the day of our visit we were not able to fully appreciate what may be typical inter-peak traffic speeds and flows when traffic speeds tend to be higher” How can the assessment be thorough when carried out on a day when there were roadworks impacting traffic flow?
County Highways also state that they have made a number of assumptions backed by figures supplied by the applicant to identify the potential impact on road traffic. Surely we deserve to have independent data for this?
If you look closely at the traffic survey, it records two HGV movements associated with each sortie to collect waste. This too, is incorrect because Valley Trading does not consume waste - they process it - and therefore extra vehicle movements associated with removing it from site after processing should be added. Admittedly, the waste may go off in fewer vehicles but there will still be a minimum of three associated movements for the guessed-at average load size. This is just not good enough.
All in all, the County Highways report is deeply flawed, and without rigorous analysis of these material considerations granting permission will set a very bad precedent for Waste Policy and traffic in the AONB.
Mr Michael Kent (Applicant):
“I’m Michael Kent and I manage the Valley Trading operation at Babdown Industrial Estate . We have been dealing with the area’s waste and recycling for over 20 years in this location and like most businesses we want to be successful, to grow, to employ more people, to put more money back into the local area and just as importantly reduce waste to landfill, reduce HGV miles and recycle and re-use as much of the waste the area generates as possible.
We have invested in highly efficient recycling equipment that is working really well. We coped well with the influx of waste generated by the Covid lockdown, as DIY projects took off and hard-core, soils, plastics, wood, metals have all been sorted , processed and either directly re-used in place of primary materials, or, for instance plastics sent for further specialist re-processing to new products.
The increase in tonnage that was applied for in 2019 is to allow a successful business to grow, just as has happened with other businesses on the Babdown Industrial Estate and in the AONB. The difference is that rarely do any businesses outside of minerals and waste operations attract tonnage limits on the amount of material they can handle so are free to grow without restriction or the type of scrutiny and discussion that the last 18 months has generated.
We are obviously very aware of the location of our business in the AONB, but we are also located on a thriving and growing Industrial Estate which is also a noted Employment site in the Cotswold Local Plan.
We recognise that there is a perception that any additional vehicles from the recycling business will have an impact but having provided a Transport Statement was that considered by the County Highways Team, we are happy to note that they raise no objection. In their response, on Page 150 of your report, they confirm that the increase in HGV movements, would not be materially significant to the existing movements which already occur on the A4135.
At the outset of this submission County Highways had confirmed that the potential for impact had to be considered in the context of the A4135 as a Strategic HGV route and that the increase in vehicles as a result of our application was likely to be less than significant.
Whilst we are aware of course of the concerns of residents living on the A4135 lorry route, we do not believe that there has been any evidence of what is being termed as “devastating” impacts when the increase of our vehicles, which is not an overnight switch, but normal business growth, is set against the current number of vehicles using that road.
We are also aware of the surrounding landscape, the AONB, and what that means to the wider County, but equally nothing in this proposal will negatively affect the AONB. The location in the AONB and the Policy issues of the Waste Local Plan have been addressed comprehensively in the Officer report .
Developing our business hasn’t been identified to have any reasons for refusal by the statutory and technical consultees, it is supported by planning policy, it a sustainable option, it reduces HGV miles through the AONB and we respectfully ask that planning is granted”.
Mr Oliver Preston (Parish Council):
“Thank you Chairman and Committee Members.
I am Oliver Preston, speaking on behalf of Beverston. As a Parish
Council, we are a small group of five; an NHS anaesthetist, a farmer, a
retired solicitor, our chair provides tours of Chavenage House – where they
film Poldark. I am a cartoonist. We are not experts in Planning and
Beverston has learned to live with HGV vehicles, and we have also
lived alongside Valley Trading’s operations since 2001. Yes, we shout a
bit about the speed and noise of their vehicles, and whether the chains are
sheathed, the wear and tear on the roads and litter. But they are a valuable and
sustainable, independent local business – in the AONB, on top of the Cotswolds. We supported their application in 2017 for a sorting warehouse on their site. We are not nimbies.
For us it’s actually an 88% increase since Valley Trading arrived at Babdown since 2001. That’s because this is now their second variation - and in 2010 we were reassured that the increase to 45,000 would be the ceiling.
This application blasts through the 50,000 limit of your own Waste Policy WCS14 for an AONB. It’s in direct conflict with Tetbury’ s Neighbourhood plan, which must be a material consideration. This shouldn’t be a section 73, it should be a full blown planning application. It’s 88% of the total requirements of the Waste Framework Directive for the whole of Gloucestershire. The planning officer’s very long 56 page document of recommendations within is testament to the fact that this is no ordinary application.
What is the point of a Waste Core Strategy or a Neighbourhood plan for Tetbury - approved by councillors and the Secretary of State- if they are to be ignored by planning officers in the decision-making? What are these exceptional considerations, where are the rigorous tests on them, has a proven public interest been demonstrated? We honestly believe the recommendation is legally questionable and counsel opinion will unpick the justification of the recommendation.
For example, why does Valley Trading need an increase to 75,000? Their Business Need Statement is conflicting, saying that they are a local business on the one hand, but the data that they themselves have provided shows how widespread their business already is. You only have to see the number of skips travelling through the area to see that the business is not at risk. We have several sightings of Valley Trading vehicles near Oxford and the Vale of the White Horse near Swindon. They cite examples of businesses locally as their clientele, but if they are so local, 45,000 tonnes ought to be enough.
In Paragraph 7.50 the Planning officer states 'There are alternative sites with potential capacity located outside the AONB: Smiths of Eastington, Hogarths in Cam, Tony’s in Berkeley, Beefy’ s skips in Blunsdon. VT's own catchment map area includes huge areas outside the AONB. What exactly is the 'source' of the waste used to justify this? Or are they trying to take business away from their competitors.
In section 8 of today’s recommendation it states, “… operators shall maintain daily records … and all records shall be kept for at least 24 months.” This very same condition was written into the 2010 application, so why has this base traffic data not been made available to us, or to o County Highways? Instead a survey taken at the wrong location by Valley Trading east of there entrance and not by Calcot Manor, 50% of movements were not collected, a site visit when the road was closed by County Highways- is not rigorous. The AONB deserves better than this.
As we have heard, the local communities are shocked – it is going to affect all of our lives going forward. It’s huge. Skip lorries are an emotive type of HGV, and the profusion of the Valley Trading traffic already makes them highly visible – and memorable. Does our AONB deserve to be remembered by tourists for skips? Do the tourists visiting pubs and cafes and shops in Tetbury’ s Long Street need to see more skips and congestion? 18% of Calcot Manor’s rooms have occupants
that are regularly complaining about the existing HGV traffic, Calcot explained this earlier.. And where are the new jobs associated with this Valley Trading application?
Finally, it is so important that these ‘material considerations’ are not just gloss, you do need to look at the undercoat. We reject the \application because of WCS4 policy. We respectfully ask you to reject this application too. Thank you”
Public speakers were invited to remain in the virtual meeting if they wished to do so.
The Chairman invited questions from Members following the presentations.
Councillor Cordwell questioned the number of vehicle movements, the Case Officer explained there was daily fluctuation and it referred to two way movements. Councillor Cordwell remarked that the increase in tonnage from 45k tonnes to 75k tonnes was not an increase of 40%. The Highways Development Officer explained that the comment predated the report, he accepted there were daily variations in traffic flow. The Committee were advised there were no grounds for highway refusal.
Councillor Robinson questioned why Nailsworth had not been included in the routing strategy. The Case Officer explained that the A46 was a strategic ‘A’ Road and Beverston were on the A4135, which was a different classification.
Councillor Preest felt the Parish Councils had valid points during the presentation and he referred to Paragraph 7.27 in the report he felt that the relevant Neighbourhood Development Plan (NDP) should be included or the relevant paragraphs should be included within the report. It was explained that the NDP was local to housing and not waste applications, therefore it had limited weight, whilst material to the consideration, did not form part of the development plan for waste proposals.
Councillor Preest also wished to know if the Cotswold Conservation Board (CCB) had replied. The Case Officer advised the Committee that the CCB had not formalised its response, he had contacted them but they had not responded.
Councillor Tracey wished to know if there were many more HGV’s and extra traffic on the lane. She wondered if drivers/staff could be given a briefing on neighbour consideration. The Case Officer informed Members that the access road was wide enough for two HGV vehicles to pass, however it was not clear who owned the access road beyond the application site. The Highways Development Officer referred to the application Transport Statement, he explained that there was a net increase of 30 skip lorries and 6 twenty tonne lorries which equated to 72 vehicle movements. The Highways Authority did not have information relating to cars, but they estimated there were approximately six thousand per day. He added that weight restrictions on lorries would serve no benefit in this instance.
Councillor Brown referred to the Parish Council statement, that in 2010 the application was submitted for 45,000 tonnes. He wished to know the nature of the assurances. The Case Officer explained that the Planning Authority was not privileged to that information, therefore the limit had been set by the condition within the report.
Councillor Preest once again referred to NDP and Paragraph 7.27. Members were advised that the plans were reviewed in detail but the NDP was not pertinent to the application, so therefore it wasn’t included.
Councillor Parsons questioned the alternative sites, he was informed that information was confidential as the business was regarded as proximate to the site. Councillor Parsons wished to know what percentage of the business was deemed as core. The Case Officer explained it was approximately 85%.
Councillor Robinson referred to the NDP and questioned why Horsley was not included. The Case Officer reiterated that the NDP had limited weight, as it was not relevant to waste applications.
Councillor Hale wished to know how many times the applicant had exceeded the 45,000 tonne limit. The Committee were informed that there had been no allegations of exceeding the weight limit, so those details had not been requested from the applicant given there were no grounds to seek to request the information. The application sought to increase the limit to 75,000 tonnes and there was no section 106 agreement attached to the permission.
On there being no further question, the committee moved into debate.
Councillor Bird proposed to accept the officer recommendation as it stood, he felt there was no over riding policy, the balance was within context and it was a balanced decision in the AONB.
Councillor Fisher seconded the proposal as stated by Councillor Bird.
Councillor Parsons remarked that he was not happy with the application as the increase was significant and he felt it was a step too far. He added that he would vote against the application.
Councillor Cordwell added that he lived close to the site and the A4135, HGV increase in lorry movements was small, therefore he felt there was no viable objection to the application.
Councillor Vines declared he was in favour of the application, he added there was a lot of agricultural movement in that area on a daily basis and the increase in traffic couldn’t be laid solely at Valley Trading’s door.
Councillor Robinson advised the Committee that he would vote against the application. He added that there were a number of large lorries in the area, some of which were unable to pass on the A46 at Nailsworth. He felt it was huge ask of residents to increase the number of vehicle movements associated with the application.
Councillor Fisher stated that there was legislation in place to ensure waste was dealt with appropriately through the waste hierarchy and that this application supported this.
Councillor Hale supported the application; he felt it was essential to have the facilities available to reuse waste. He remarked if such facilities weren’t available then fly tipping would be on the increase, therefore he supported the application.
Councillor Morgan added that he would unhappily support the application; he referred to the increase of fly tipping in the Forest area due to the Covid restrictions applied to waste recycling facilities locally. He noted that the site was on an existing industrial estate and added there were numerous sites available on the forest area for businesses to grow.
On being put to the vote, the application was passed (9 in favour, 2 against and one abstention).
The Planning Committee therefore:
That planning permission be granted for the reasons summarised in paragraphs 7.89 to 7.92 subject to the planning conditions recommended in Section 8.0 of the report.