The full text of Chairman Matthew Harris’s Earthline Appeal:
My name is Matthew Harris, and I am a councillor at, and the Chairman of Chiseldon Parish Council. I am here today to represent the residents of the Parish of Chiseldon.
I’d like to thank the inspector for allowing me to speak today. While I do not intend to speak on any technical planning arguments – that is indeed the remit of the planning authority – I would like to highlight some of the issues that the appellant’s operations are causing in neighbouring settlements.
As the inspector will already be aware, one of the entry/exit routes the appellant avails itself as part of its transport/earthmoving operations uses Comet Way, joining onto the B4005 at the toll house at Burderop, then Hodson Road, New Road and Marlborough Road to join the main “A” road network and M4 motorway. The route in question takes the appellant’s heavy goods vehicles through residential areas – primarily while passing the toll house at Burderop Park and through the village of Chiseldon – that is, while traversing Hodson Road and New Road.
The appellant’s line of business is such that, on weekdays, heavy goods vehicles are dispatched from their compound, often in sizeable groups, between 6am and 730am, a time at which many people are either still asleep or getting ready to go to work, then during mid to late afternoon – between 2pm and 4pm which coincides with the end of the school day – those vehicles return to the compound.
Many residents have contacted the Parish Council to complain about volume of traffic and the noise nuisance generated by the vehicles used by the appellant’s business. These vehicles are inherently large and heavy in nature and the roads in and around Chiseldon do not lend themselves well to such heavy and constant use.
There are also several pinch points on the route described. The junction at the grade II listed toll house by Burderop Park is sharp turn with a less than ninety-degree angle. This area not only creates traffic build up as good vehicles queue to turn right onto the B4005 while awaiting a clear swing into the junction, but witness marks on the toll house itself show the damage to buildings that can occur when turns out of the junction from the B4005 in the direction of Barbury Castle are misjudged by large vehicles.
I have also received several complaints about vibrations from large vehicles from residents of the converted barns behind the Burderop toll house, which are sited close to the B4005 carriageway.
The toll house on the corner of Turnball and New Road/Hodson Road is also a location where the carriageway is in close proximity of existing buildings. This thatched cottage, also a grade II listed building and winner of a conservation award is particularly susceptible to damage through vibration given how close the building is to the road and how the structure was originally built many years ago.
Hodson Road and New Road, both forming part of the B4005 and both of which are primarily residential locations are also particularly unsuitable for the volume and type of traffic the appellant operates. The council has received many complaints about the noise created by the appellant’s vehicles and times that they use these roads, which are wholly inappropriate through residential areas. The council has also received many comments about the poor and rapidly deteriorating road surface. This situation is only exacerbated by constant use of the roads by the appellant’s operations, roads which are unsuitable for this type and level of use.
It is clear to the Parish Council that the location and development of the appeal site without appropriate permissions by the appellant is entirely incongruous and out of context within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The noise nuisance is clearly affecting residents’ amenity and health, not only nearby to the appeal site, but across a wider area as vehicles find their way to arterial roads through residential areas to complete their deliveries.
Chiseldon Parish Council, and its residents are not against bringing business to the area; a prime example is its support of rebuilding the Data Centre at Brimble Hill. In that instance, the applicant has sought appropriate permissions prior to development and has worked very closely with both the Borough Councillors and the Parish Council to manage any construction traffic which includes times that vehicles are received and dispatched and the quantity thereof.
Similarly, the inspector may be aware of a campaign by residents involving protests, placards and posters opposing the development which has received local press coverage. It would be very easy to dismiss this as a NIMBY tactic, however, as a Parish Councillor, I would simply note that such a vociferous and persistent campaign organised by residents across several parishes is incredibly unusual. This action only serves to underline the impact on daily life that the noise and nuisance of the appellant’s operations from the appeal site is having on those residents.
Given the above, Chiseldon Parish Council would respectfully request that the inspector dismiss this appeal.
Finally, I would like to attend to an important point, and that is thank the individual drivers of the appellant’s vehicles. Chiseldon Speed Watch has reported that the appellant’s employees are driving within the posted speed limits. Also, drivers have always remained calm and courteous, even in the face of the ongoing campaign against the appellant’s development. Their ongoing professionalism in such challenging circumstances should therefore be acknowledged and applauded.