Lorry parking at village farm shown red card by council planners

A satellite image shows a farm in the countryside.
-Credit: (Image: Google)

A farmer has been told he can’t allow HGVs to continue parking on his land after councillors heard the lorries caused 'destructive' noise and vibration. An application to Charnwood Borough Council for the land at Whatoff Lodge Farm, in Quorn, run by JB Thomas and Son, asked for retrospective planning permission for up to 15 lorries to continue to park on four areas of the farm.

But at a meeting of the council's plans committee, councillors voted to refuse permission. Planning documents note ‘all the heavy goods vehicles are registered to Tarmac’, which runs the nearby quarry in Mountsorrel. Villagers said lorries on local roads cause ‘noise and vibration’, with a councillor saying it was ‘one of the most frequently discussed issues on the doorstep’.

In a report to committee members, council officers recommended the plans be refused due to harm to the countryside, as well as that it would ‘cause excessive noise, disturbance, fumes and vibration, leading to a loss of tranquillity, air quality, privacy and residential amenity to those occupiers along the rural and village roads of Quorn’.

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There had been 11 objections to the scheme, with locals concerned over vehicles driving on weight-restricted roads, damaging road surfaces, potential safety issues for cyclists, pedestrians and school children, and the possibility of an increased number of HGVs on nearby roads.

Lance Wiggins, a local resident who spoke at the meeting, said: “The passage of HGVs gives rise to noise and vibration. This is often in the early hours of the morning as they travel to and from the Tarmac quarry. In my view, any economic benefit arising from the proposals is significantly and demonstrably outweighed by adverse impacts. I’d urge members to refuse the application and resolve to take immediate enforcement action to cease this harmful use.”

But Mr Thomas, the applicant, insisted: “Firstly, the quarry needs lorries and the lorries need the quarry.” He highlighted a ministerial statement by Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps which said there needed to be more lorry parking and better facilities for drivers.

He added: “Our facilities do include toilets for the drivers and showers. The government is also determined the planning system should play its part in meeting the need of hauliers and addressing current deficiencies, and finally we need to take account of any local shortages to reduce the risk of parking in locations that lack facilities or could cause a nuisance.”

Christopher Ronald, of Quorn Parish Council, which objected to the application, said: “Of course we understand farmers may be looking to diversify on their farms and that’s fine. But the kind of diversification promised here is completely out of line with any diversification envisaged by the laws in question.” He added: “As far as we can see there’s been no attempt to identify alternative sites for these lorries to park.”

Leicestershire County Council’s Highways team said it was unable to comment on the plans as the application didn’t fully assess the impact on roads and further information the team requested hadn’t been provided.

Ward councillor Lee Westley said: “I have represented the people of Quorn as a borough councillor for 12 months, and this is one of the most frequently discussed issues on the doorstep. Trip generation data and times of travel have not been provided, but many residents have commented that the lorries that operate from the site travel through the village at night and at unsociable times. The noise and vibration are indeed excessive and most destructive.”

Councillor Hilary Fryer said she appreciated the government had encouraged people to find lorry parking, but added: “However that isn't a suitable place.” Councillor Mark Lowe warned: “I’m concerned if we refuse this are they all then going to be parking on streets or in parking bays in the A6? I think we need things like this in the borough for people to park.”

In response, planning officer Deborah Liggins said the key element was ‘finding a suitable site’, adding: “We have a dedicated lorry park at junction 23. However we find that because there’s a charge to park there, overnight hauliers are looking for somewhere less costly.”

Councillor Chris O'Neill said he was 'in the strange position of defending Tarmac', saying the quarry had been there for long before he had lived in the area. He said the hauliers were not employed directly by the company, but suggested Tarmac should provide facilities for the drivers.

The vote by committee members to refuse retrospective planning permission was unanimous.

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