Saturday, 21 July 2018

Lorry movements ‘seven times more than estimate’

LORRY movements at an industrial estate near Watlington could be more than seven times greater than stated by the owner.

LORRY movements at an industrial estate near Watlington could be more than seven times greater than stated by the owner.

Watlington Parish Council carried out a traffic survey which showed that figures submitted by Copas Farms in support of its planning application for Lys Mill were “severely underestimated”.

On one day, 46 heavy goods vehicles were counted compared with the the company’s estimate of 43 a week.

Copas Farms estimated there were 2,236 HGV movements per year but the data recorded by the council suggests the figure could be nearer 17,212.

The company has applied retrospectively to use the former feed mill and other buildings for storage and industrial use.

It currently has permission to use 1,020 sq m for storage but is actually using more than three times that. The council’s survey took place at the end of April and the beginning of May, days after a fire partly destroyed one of the six buildings on the estate.

Surveyors counted lorry movements for one working day, Monday, as well as for shorter periods over three other days in the same week. The data showed vehicle movements in and out of the site were fairly consistent throughout the week.

Sixty imagined HGV movements were added as it was estimated actual vehicle movements would have been 25 per centre high before the fire. Two were added per weekday to account for movements before and after the times monitored.

A further 31 were added per weekend as 10 movements were recorded between 5.45am and 9.30am on one Saturday alone.

The results of the survey have been submitted to South Oxfordshire District Council, which is considering the company’s application.

In an accompanying letter, Councillor Rhian Woods, chairman of the council’s planning committee, said the council did not oppose the continuing use of the site for small office and general industrial use businesses.

However, it did oppose the storage and distribution businesses which caused the HGV movements.

She questioned why estimated figures were accepted by the district council when accurate data could be obtained and why traffic and environmental traffic assessments were not included in the application.

Cllr Woods said she hoped the district council would “properly consider the very damaging impact of the HGV movements which are generated by the Lys Mill site on this small market town and the wider Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty”.

Other issues she raised included the narrowness of Watlington’s roads and pavements, lorry drivers ignoring the 7.5 tonne weight limit and the impact on town centre buildings and air quality.

Neil Foreman, who chairs a group of residents opposed to the application, has also written to the district council saying the application should not be considered until traffic and environmental impact assessments and a noise survey have been produced by Copas Farms. More than 30 letters of objection were submitted to the district council during the consultation period, which has now closed.

Geoffrey Copas, of Copas Farms, said that Mondays were the busiest day of the week at the site and the council’s figures were based on “extremely unusual circumstances” caused by the aftermath of the fire.

“The week before the data was collected nobody was allowed on site, so the following week was extremely busy,” he said. “There was a phenomenal amount of work going on getting the businesses up and running with their electricity supply.”

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