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Gloucestershire Business News

Not so chop chop: timber firm's relief at planning decision

A Gloucestershire timber firm has spoken of its relief over a planning decision that took almost a year to conclude – and says it had to either begin trading without approval or go bust.

Shed, fencing and timber suppliers Jays Timber Ltd, who began trading in Gloucester back in 1991, had to vacate their site on the Great Western Road early this year. The site, opposite Gloucestershire Royal Hospital has now been designated for housing.

Managing director Ben Holpin said that the firm was saddened to leave its long-term city base, but was pleased to find an ideal site close to the A417 at Birdlip when the Clavell and Hind Microbrewery, which has since relocated to Cheltenham, became available at the village's Ermin Way Works.

Mr Holpin told "We went ahead with the planning permission back in January, and the expectation was that we would be able to have all the agreement in order by April."

But with the livelihood of six staff to protect, he said that the interminable wait for the final agreement on the change of use meant that he had to either begin trading or lay workers off.

"It was a decision I had to make; we applied for a simple change of use and expected a six-to-eight week process, not eleven and a half months!"

Littledean-based Brian Griffin Planning and Countryside Consultants submitted an initial document to CDC planners on January 26th, in which the applicant requested to "amend Condition 4 of the approval to allow use of the site by Jays Timber Limited in place of Clavell and Hind Microbrewery. Condition 4 restricts occupation to the Microbrewery as there is a nearby residential dwelling and the Council wish to review any alternative use."

However, the case officer delegated report and permission were not signed off until October 16th.

Officer Andrew Moody told Cotswold District Council: "The site extends to 963 sq m in total, with an existing steel frame metal clad building within the southern half of the site, with hard surfaced storage/parking area to the north and east of the existing building. There is a small grassed area situated between the southern boundary and the south facing elevation of the existing building. The site is located between an existing dwelling to the east (known as Highclere) and land and buildings last used as a coach depot and service buildings to the west."

Three further residential buildings were also nearby and Birdlip and Cowley parish councils had both objected to the change of use, citing concerns that included traffic, safety and power tool noise.

But in a final conclusion to the bid, Mr Moody said that change from a Class B2 use to unresricted B2 use of the site should be given because "it is considered that the principle of commercial use of the building is long established".

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