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Gloucestershire Business News

Haulage firm told: "you can't park here"

An ambitious plan for a 3.6 hectare truck stop on AONB land close to Cirencester looks likely to have met its demise after a last-gasp appeal ruled any benefit would not outweigh harm to the area.

The original plan, lodged with Cotswold District Council in 2020 by Zesta, on behalf of William Gilder Ltd, was for a new, secure roadside truck stop facility which would provide parking for 75 HGVs as well as car parking, a drivers' facilities building, new vehicular access, a service yard and landscaping.

But the bid, on land at Ermin Way Farm, which is adjacent to Gloucester Road in Stratton, met immediate and concerted local opposition with dozens of residents claiming it would spoil the landscape. In harmony with the public disapproval, Baunton and Daglingworth parish councils both objected, citing fears of more "rogue" lorries being attracted to their villages.

But while citing caveats over environmental impact, Cirencester Town Council said: "trucking is a vital part of our industry, serving our economy across the country. We've seen especially over the last year how much we all rely on truckers to deliver the goods we need, and it's absolutely right that they should have safe and hygienic services available to them at suitable locations. Truckers should not have to stop in laybys with no facilities, or overnight in locations where they fear having their load stolen."

In March this year, CDC threw the application out, but at its subsequent appeal stage, the bid drew upon the implicit support of a 2018 ministerial statement from then Transport Minister Jesse Norman, who said there was a growing need to "tackle the blight of fly-parking" of HGVs across the UK, given a lack of accessible facilities across the road network.

The statement added: "More generally, Highways England intend in future to give increased priority to the provision of lorry parking across the Strategic Road Network. Its initial report for the second Road Investment Strategy period (2020-2025) Highways England propose funding to support the provision of better roadside facilities, which would include lorry parking. The Department has consulted on this proposal and is carefully considering the responses received.

However, in the Planning Inspectorate's final ruling this week, the case was ruled to be "alien" to the nature of the area. Chief concerns focused on the impact on the area's character and appearance, while the inspector also asked whether the scheme could be put forward at another location, outside the AONB.

The appeal ruled that providing parking and facilities for up to 75 HGVs, seven days a week would "result in the introduction of a significant level of infrastructure to what is currently an open field.

It added: "The proposed development, which would be some 3.6 hectares, would shatter the openness of the land and install an industrial feature into the AONB with the site being dominated by hardstanding and HGVs.

"The size and nature of the proposed development would be an alien and discordant feature, imposing itself upon the more natural landscape."

Despite William Gilder Ltd's plea that dismissing the proposal would worsen the current lack of truck stops, the inspector added that any planning benefits did not overcome "the harm and conflict" that had been found.

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