Campaigners against the proposed warehouses in Maple Cross have been left heartbroken after the application was granted by a planning inspector on appeal.
The land had been allocated for employment space by Three Rivers District Council (TRDC), but the decision went to appeal after the council failed to make one in time.
A nearby site, the former Hertford Place office block and car park, also has an ongoing application concerning it which could see the buildings demolished and replaced with six further warehouses.
Speaking to RICKYnews, the ‘Save Maple Cross from Warehouse Hell’ group said: “TRDC have rolled over to enable the warehousing development as their only focus in Maple Cross is ‘how much revenue can we get out of the area’.
The first read of the application showed that TRDC were in favour of the development and would only question them if we repeatedly raised an issue. The application stated ‘redevelopment’, which is untrue as it is undeveloped green belt.”
Another resident, Eric Smith, said: “I have been a resident of Maple Cross for 64 years, the HS2 project at one end now these warehouses at the other, how much more can Maple Cross take? We experience terrible traffic when there’s an accident on the M25, which is very often.
“The lorries that the warehouses will bring means more heavy traffic and pollution, and busy roads right beside the New Reach School. The pollution is not good for the kids, its going against all logic of reducing traffic fumes near schools.”
Karen Bradley added: “Maple Cross has several warehouses proposed, a huge housing development and so far the councillors have bent over backwards to get this one passed!
“There are new planners coming into TRDC and I wish that they and the councillors would really listen to us residents.
“I never agreed with the warehouse development, Hertford Place is now open for development, it would have been better if this site had been used and left the nature reserve and the residents living near the development.”
When contacted for comment, TRDC said: “The application for the two warehouses at was considered by a planning inspector at a public inquiry in April 2022. The inspector issued their decision on 30 May 2022, with the appeal allowed and planning permission granted for the development subject to a number of planning conditions.
“The Planning Inspector concluded: “I have found the proposal to be not unacceptable with regard to the effect on biodiversity interests, in particular BNG and the Forester Moth, and on living conditions of the occupiers of local residential properties by way or noise from the traffic and operation of the proposal, as well as with regard to all other matters that have been raised.”
“The application for the demolition of the existing office block and redevelopment to provide six warehouses at Hertford Place is a current planning application which is due to be considered by the planning committee.”
The three Liberal Democrat councillors for Maple Cross have expressed their frustration and disappointment at the decision. Cllr. Martin Trevett said: “None of the three Lib Dem Councillors voted for the inclusion of this development in the Local Plan published in 2021.”
Cllr Williams, who is also a district councillor, commented: “It is a great shame that this development has been allowed on land that was until 2014 designated as greenbelt.
“It is unfortunate that a majority of councillors voted in 2021 to include the site for employment use in the Local Plan, and that, more or less, sealed its fate, making it difficult for the three local Lib Dem district councillors to mount a decisive opposition, although we fought against it as much as we could.”
Cllr. Khiroya commented: I used my position as a member of Planning Committee to require the application to be determined by the full Planning Committee rather than solely by the Planning Officers, and I have voted against planning permission being granted”.
“I attended the Appeal Hearing every day, and was extremely frustrated at being denied the opportunity to address the hearing on behalf of the local residents”.
The agents for the application, Avison Young, stated: “We are pleased to have secured planning permission for two warehouses on an allocated 8.45-acre site at Maple Cross following a successful appeal hearing.
“Throughout the planning process, we have worked hard to listen to and to address the views of all stakeholders.
“They have helped to shape what we believe is an important investment for Maple Cross which will create jobs, improve local highways infrastructure and deliver net biodiversity gains.”
Photo Credit: C4 Projects