4 February 2010

The big man came calling...........

Everyone gets visitors and I'm no exception but Wednesday afternoon's was a bit of a surprise. One of the local big men came on a rather curious mission which was to get M&B to publish some information about an incident on the Bancombe Trading Estate which had reportedly taken place earlier that day. The story, as reported, goes something like this:

A truck, owned and operated by Viridor, had undertaken a maneuver which brought it into close proximity with children (in a car?) who were ariving at or leaving the Little Acorn's day nursery at Unit 14a Wessex Park on the Bancombe Trading Estate. Words were exchanged with the driver of the truck and my visitor had subsequently become involved, going as far as phoning up Viridor and demanding the sacking of the truck driver. My visitor then went on to explain that he wanted me to publish this story on M&B as it was an illustration of exactly why the Household Waste Recycling Centre should be moved to Badger's Cross.

So, I've been kind enough to report the story but I've also done a little bit of thinking about it and one question comes to mind. Who was dumb enough to dump a day nursery in the middle of an industrial estate and not imagine that there might be incidents like this? So, in the pursuit of honest reporting, I went and had a look at SSDC's planning decisions on the subject and the consideration of this particular application (to site the day nursery in the middle of the trading estate) referred exactly to this sort of problem.

The proposal is for the change of use of an existing light industrial use to a children's' indoor play area. It is considered that the key considerations are impact on loss of employment land and the introduction of a key town centre use away from a preferred location, accessibility of existing units on site and pedestrian safety.

To conclude, no objection is raised to the proposal on economic grounds. It is considered to be meet an identified need and have no detrimental impact on employment provision locally. However, it is not felt that this should override the concerns regarding safety within the site. It is considered that the proposed development is likely to result in a conflict between pedestrian and commercial traffic, which would be prejudicial to the safety, amenity and convenience of users. Even though the County Highway Authority have only been able to make a recommendation in this case, it is considered that as a responsible Local Authority, the only option is to recommend refusal of the scheme.

Refuse Application

Compare that perfectly reasonable view to the view of Somerton Town Council when it considered the same application on 26th August 2008:

Minute 4559 PLANNING: 08/03055/COU - The change of use of building from light industrial (Use Class B1) to an indoor children’s play centre; 14A Wessex Park, Bancombe Rd Trading Estate. No Objections

So Somerton Town Council saw no possibility of threat or conflict placing a children's day nursery in the middle of a busy industrial estate. And now, the predicted conflicts are being used by interested parties in order to seek to close not the whole of the industrial estate but to close one particular activity, the Household Waste Recycling Centre. And it is, of course, coincidental that the alternative location, Badger's Cross, is being developed by the developer of the Bancombe Trading Estate. Just a bit too transparent for my liking.

Till next time, I'm Niall Connolly