D-day for plea to build warehouse

PUBLISHED: 12:29 13 April 2006 | UPDATED: 14:38 12 May 2010

COUNCILLORS will decide today (Thursday) whether to approve a massive warehouse scheme. Discussions on the proposals come in the wake of a report condemning the plan. The report is critical of members of North Herts District Council s Royston area committ

COUNCILLORS will decide today (Thursday) whether to approve a massive warehouse scheme.

Discussions on the proposals come in the wake of a report condemning the plan.

The report is critical of members of North Herts District Council's Royston area committee and their decision to support the scheme.

This was in spite of them being told that it was outside the Royston development area.

Now the council's licensing appeals committee will decide whether the scheme to develop a site in Greenfields on the Orchard Road industrial estate can be approved.

The committee, which does not include any Royston councillors, has the choice between supporting colleagues or agreeing with a report from planning officer Simon Ellis.

His report concerns an application from giant stationery company John Dickinson to build a 16,000 square metre warehouse.

Mr Ellis has condemned the scheme as a "major departure" from the council's development plan which would have "a significant visual impact" on the area.

He said the planning application was "premature" because the council had not seen the outcome of a Local Development Framework process, which is being discussed.

The scheme, he said, would probably eventually be decided by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister.

"It is considered that if this application be granted it would significantly prejudice the policies and proposals of the development plan and the emerging Local Development Framework."

Councillors on the Royston area committee believed that Dickinson's had provided a good business case for the development and, therefore, should be allowed to build on the site.

It was seen by members that although aware of it being outside the development area the scheme could be given the go-ahead under exceptional circumstances.

Mr Ellis continued in his report that the application would probably not have been approved had not the committee, with approval of a previous scheme, "unlocked" land outside the development area.

He said that allowing Royston Labels' recent application to build outside the development area had "set a precedent".

- The licensing and appeals committee is to also decide on a plan for a day care nursery on a site at Picknage Corner, Barley.

The plan was approved by members of the Royston area committee, but was against a recommendation from Mr Ellis to accept the scheme.

In his report, Mr Ellis said the proposal would mean "an encroachment" into undeveloped countryside.

He said the development would create an "urbanising effect" which was detrimental to the character of the area.

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