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SOMERSET: Mill Lane crane appeal outcome

SOMERSET: Mill Lane crane appeal outcome

CREDIT: Mill Lane Residents Group

Residents of a small Somerset village are celebrating a “very positive result” after a local crane company lost its legal battle with the local council.

South West Crane Hire Ltd operates one of its depots on the former Creech Paper Mill site in the village of Creech St Michael near Taunton.

The company lodged an appeal following Somerset West and Taunton Council’s decision not to grant retrospective planning permission for the site back in December 2020.

But the Planning Inspectorate has now ruled against the company – much to the joy of the Mill Lane Residents Group, who have criticised the “totally inappropriate” size and timing of the cranes past their homes.

Planning inspector S. D. Castle visited the site on August 10, publishing his decision on the Planning Inspectorate’s website a few weeks later.

Mr Castle acknowledged (based up evidence submitted by locals) that the crane vehicles were of “significantly greater length” than the tankers which previously operated from the same base.

He said: “The mobile cranes, due to their greater length and scale, are likely to be more intimidating to pedestrians and cyclists using Mill Lane than the tankers used by the previous site operator.

“I find the development results in an increased risk of conflict and accidents by virtue of the materially different and, in certain cases, materially larger cranes accessing, egressing and travelling along Mill Lane given its constrained width, lack of passing places, lack of street lighting, lack of pedestrian infrastructure, and substandard visibility at its junction with St Michael Road.”

Mr Castle also stated the noise and vibrations experienced by Mill Lane residents was “likely to be significant” and “detrimental to living conditions if experienced during the quiet hours of the night”.

The Mill Lane Residents Group has welcomed the ruling, stating they would support the company moving to a more appropriate location.

A spokesman said: “We are very happy that the appeal was dismissed by the Planning Inspectorate; this was obviously a very positive result for the residents.

“The safely and well-being of the residents of Creech St Michael was always paramount. All parties including the inspectorate recognised this.

“We are not sure what happens next. We can only hope that South West Crane Hire move their Creech St Michael operations to one of their other depots as quick and peacefully as possible.

“We truly wish them the best of luck in finding a more suitable depot in the Taunton area.”

Since retrospective planning permission was not granted, the company will need to either secure planning permission through a new application – otherwise it will have to dismantle its depot and relocate.

A spokesman for South West Crane Hire said: “The appeal is merely one step in an ongoing planning process.

“Even if we do eventually leave Mill Lane, there are still other cranes based there, and we hope that the residents realise that the removal of our cranes does not mean the removal of all cranes from Mill Lane.

“We have been around for the last 49 years, and will continue to employ local people and add to the development of our part of the country.”

Words: : Daniel Mumby, Local Democracy Reporter


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