Agenda item

20/00430/FUL - Coach Park, Pilgrims Lane, North Stifford, Grays, Essex, RM16 5UZ


The report was presented by Ian Harrison.


Councillor Fletcher noted that the report mentioned that the traffic movements on the site would be reduced and asked what the Applicant was comparing these traffic movements to. He said that there was not much traffic movement that was current going in and out of the site. Ian Harrison explained that the Applicant had based this on the full capacity of the coach and car park if it had been used. Councillor Fletcher commented that this approach was theoretical and questioned if this same approach had been used in the previous application for a three year permission. Ian Harrison said that the previous application had never been determined and this current application had been amended to seek permission for five years.


Steve Taylor commented that the Lower Thames Crossing (LTC) route was not determined yet and that this site was not near the route either. He asked why the site was chosen by Highways England and reasons for a five year temporary use of the site. Ian Harrison confirmed that the site was not near the proposed LTC route but the site was unused land which was why the Applicant had chosen this instead of a Green Belt site. The site would be used to investigate and monitor the LTC route for a temporary five year period.


Councillor Piccolo questioned how close the exit of the site to the main road was. Julian Howes answered that the exit of the site was past the roundabout on the main road.


Councillor Polley questioned if the site would be returned to its original use after the end of the five year permission. She raised concerns that the site was close to an area where there was a lot of traffic movement and asked what type of vehicles would be going in and out of the site. She mentioned that there had been large vehicles used on the site before for piling work and that there had been an accident involving a crane previously. Ian Harrison answered that the site would revert back to its original use after the five year permission ended. He said that the site would use contracted larger vehicles. Julian Howes added that the site had been used by the A13/M25 group for construction purposes two or three years ago.


Councillor Byrne pointed out that the traffic around the site would increase the traffic issues around area and sought more detail. Julian Howes answered that most of the traffic would be outside of the peak hours so would not worsen the traffic around the area. He said that the site had been in use for the past 18 months with vehicles going in and out of the site which had not increased the traffic around the area.


Councillor Piccolo sought clarification on the 7am – 7pm traffic monitoring hours and asked if it included peak hours which Julian Howes confirmed that it.


The Vice-Chair agreed with the concerns raised on traffic from Members. He commented that he wished to see a travel plan and that he had seen 40 tonne lorries going into the site. He said that the travel plan needed to include the hours that vehicles were allowed in and out of the site as the area had a lot of traffic. The Chair questioned what the overall traffic movements in and out of the site would be when it was in operation. Julian Howes said that the report detailed the number of trips on the site which did not show a significant increase. He said that the site had been in operation for the past 18 months.


The Chair commented that the site could have been running at a higher capacity back in the 1990s or early 2000s and the site was now outdated as it was no longer used as a coach park. He noted that the estimation of traffic movements was used for approval of the application and sought further details. Ian Harrison explained that the Applicant had assessed the site to be operating currently at 40% capacity. This figure was increased to 100% based on the full capacity of the coach park being operated as a contractors compound which was around 850 vehicle movements a day. He said that the figures highlighted that the vehicle movements would still be less than the number of vehicle movements if the site had been operating as a coach and car park.


Speaker Statements were heard from

  • Laura Blake, Thames Crossing Action Group – in objection.
  • Sarah Collins, Agent – in support.


Councillor Fletcher asked whether the largest vehicles of 20 tonnes were included in the assessment of traffic movements. He asked how confident the service was in that the large vehicles would not cause an obstruction when turning at the roundabout. He noted that a previous application had been refused and asked what the difference was between this application and the previous one. Julian Howes said that he was unable to confirm this without looking at the Transport Assessment but that all vehicle movements should have been included. He went on to say that there was enough room for larger vehicles to turn at the roundabout but not enough room for vehicles waiting to get into the site at the gates. The Highways Team preferred that the gates to the site be placed further back into the site. Ian Harrison said that the previous application had been for a flower market which would have significantly increased the number of traffic movements in the area so had been refused.


Steve Taylor questioned whether there were restrictions placed on exiting the site. He commented that with the site’s location, it could potentially have vehicles using routes in local areas such as Ockendon and questioned if vehicles would be required to use the main road networks. Julian Howes answered that the larger vehicles were required to remain on the strategic road networks and to submit road strategies to the Highways Team for agreement. The Highways Team would look to prevent larger vehicles from using local roads but where it was not possible, vehicles would travel though an alternative route. Steve Taylor pointed out that there were alternative sites such as one between the junction of the A127 and M25 that was set up on the Green Belt to monitor the M25. Julian Howes was unable to confirm if the site had been considered.


Councillor Byrne asked whether the previous application to use the site as a flower market had less than 1,700 vehicle movements. Julian Howes answered that the flower market would have resulted in more vehicle movement in a short period of time as the market had been proposed to open for Sundays. This would have impacted the road networks in one day rather than being spread out.


The Chair began the debate by pointing out that the permission may last longer than five years and potentially be for ten years. He said that the number of traffic movements was high but noted that this would not be upheld in an appeal.


The Vice-Chair highlighted his concerns on the traffic and said that he would prefer to see a travel plan before approving the application to ensure that 40 tonne lorries were not operating between 8am – 9am and 3pm – 5.30pm. He said that the site was five miles from the proposed route of the LTC and that there were other sites that could be used which were closer to the route.


Councillor Byrne pointed out that when the site had been in operation as a coach park, there were no traffic movements. He said that coaches dropped people off and then stayed in the coach park for the majority the day. Councillor Fletcher said that the travel plan was needed and that the issue was about the size of the traffic. He said there were traffic concerns around the Pilgrims Lane roundabout and lesson the roundabout by Sainsburys. He was concerned that traffic would be impacted in areas such as Ockendon. Councillor Polley said that the application was premature as the LTC route had not been confirmed yet. She highlighted her concerns on the smaller entrance in to the Pilgrims Lane’s traveller site and that the residents there had not been consulted. She pointed out that there was still a reduced amount of traffic due to lockdown restrictions still in place but that there were already traffic issues.


(Councillor Akinbohun arrived at 6.55pm)


Councillor Piccolo pointed out that the traffic movements comparison were over 20 years old and was irrelevant as the traffic situation was different with new developments since then. He said that there had not been much work in the site other than exploratory work in the last 18 months and could not consider the traffic movements in this time to be a representative of what it would be for the site if approved. He felt that the site’s exit was too close to the A1306 and vehicles exiting the site would cause a blockage to the approach road and increase the traffic congestion. He pointed out that the access was not appropriate and needed to be placed further from the roundabout.


Councillor Watson also highlighted concerns about traffic and said that it was frequently busy throughout the week. She felt that a robust travel plan was needed too.


Jonathan Keen summarised Members’ points and said that the site’s use was a coach park. If the application was not approved, the site could continue to operate as a coach park with vehicles going in and out of the site. He referred Members to condition two in the report and said that it required that the travel plan be submitted within two months of approval. If not, the use of the coach park would cease. He reassured Members that the travel plan would be assessed by the Highways Team and consider Members’ comments particularly on HGV routing on the strategic road network. A condition could also be added to limit the hours of movement for HGVs in and out of the site. There was scope within the application to limit the movement of vehicles. He noted Members’ concerns of the site’s location and said that the site was an existing established site within the area and that if the use was not permitted for this site, the Applicant could potentially look to a site on the Green Belt.


Councillor Fletcher asked whether the application would come back to a committee meeting if the application was approved subject to a travel plan. Jonathan Keen explained that if the application was approved, the conditions would not come back to Committee as it was not within the terms of reference of Planning Committee. He said that Members would be able to see the conditions once they were drafted as it was a public document. He reassured Members that their concerns would be addressed in the travel plan and that the conditions were enforceable.


Councillor Piccolo commented that the traffic from the site needed to be controlled. He suggested traffic lights as a form of control. Jonathan Keen said that the gates could be used as a way of controlling traffic out of the site.


Councillor Watson proposed deferring the application so that Members could see the travel plan. Councillor Piccolo seconded this.


(In line with the Constitution, Chapter 5, Part 3(d), para. 13.5, Councillor Akinbohun was unable to participate and vote on this item as she had not been present at the start of the item.)


FOR: (8) Councillors Tom Kelly (Chair), Steve Liddiard (Vice-Chair), Gary Byrne, Colin Churchman, Mike Fletcher, Terry Piccolo, Georgette Polley, Lee Watson.





Supporting documents: