29 Jan 2009

Aston Down: appeal date at last

A long time ago I wrote a report about development at Aston Down near Minch - see it here - it looked at the site to see if it was a sustainable development opportunity or an unsuitable site for development in 55 hectares (136 acres) of an Area Of Natural Beauty(AONB) - it was an eye-opener for me - and I learnt a lot about how Council's work - well that was 4 years ago - the issue has now come to a planning appeal.

Up to 40 firms employing more than 300 people are based without planning permission on the old Aston Down airfield site near Minchinhampton. Why do they do that?? Some good companies up there but why not seek sites with planning permission? Is it cheaper to have a site without planning?

Anyhow the hearing begins on March 3rd - the appeal is by the airfield's owners Leda Properties and is expected to last 10 days. It is against Stroud and Cotswold district councils' refusal to allow the continuation of the light industrial and warehousing use of the huge old aircraft hangars and other buildings. The local residents action group will be able to speak at the meeting.

Click here!Leda, who bought Aston Down in 2002, is also challenging enforcement actions both councils took to try to stop what they say is unauthorised commercial development in the countryside. The appeal does not involve Cotswold Gliding Club's part of the site.

I have to note that after reviewing the site all that time ago it is clear that the extra traffic and heavy lorries to and from the site were unacceptable on the minor roads serving Aston Down - especially as it is in the official Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Indeed since then I have seen many more photos and witnessed heavy lorries using the site inappropriately.

The hearing will start at Ebley Mill in Stroud and move during the second week to a venue to be announced in Cirencester.

However to finish this blog entry I would like to note that while it seems clear the current industry is excessive there is surely a possible use for some of the perfectly good buildings - extreme care will be needed to see what might be possible that does not generate the traffic and fits with local planning laws.

1 comment:

A Cooper said...

I live next to Aston Down airfield. We need industry around the Stroud area - I work for a manufacturing company and several years ago we spent a lot of time looking for premises to buy - it took us over two years to find something! What do you imagine will happen on this site otherwise? Incidentally, since all these businesses have been trading from the site they have also been paying business rates I believe - does this mean that the district councils are aiding and abetting the illegality?