St Neots company denies breach of planning rules
A ST NEOTS shop-fittings manufacturer must reduce the noise of its operations and stop paint fumes spreading to nearby homes. Following complaints from residents in Admirals Way, Eaton Socon, Huntingdonshire District Council has agreed to take enforcement
A ST NEOTS shop-fittings manufacturer must reduce the noise of its operations and stop paint fumes spreading to nearby homes.
Following complaints from residents in Admirals Way, Eaton Socon, Huntingdonshire District Council has agreed to take enforcement action against Anglo ERI Limited for what the council says is a breach of planning consent.
"The lawful use of the factory in Little End Road is for light industrial purposes," said enforcement team leader Sandy Kinnersley. "Over recent years a number of complaints have been received from residents adjoining the site, mainly relating to noise and paint odour.
"These have been investigated, initially by environmental health officers and more recently by planning enforcement officers, and have been substantiated by officers, albeit they are not continuous."
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But the company denies it is breaching its planning permissions and fears enforcement action could lead to job losses.
The council acknowledges that most sources of noise have been remedied by the company changing its working practices, but the remaining concern seems to be noise coming from the operation of a dual laser/punch press.
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A light industrial use is defined as one "which can be carried out in any residential area without detriment to the amenity of that area by reason of noise, vibration, smell, fumes, soot, ash, dust, or grit".
"While the noise and odour do not constitute statutory nuisances, it is considered that they are detrimental to residential amenity and on this basis the council considers that the use is now 'general industrial', she told The Hunts Post. "This is a material change in the use of the premises for which planning permission is required. No such permission has been applied for or granted."
Mrs Kinnersley conceded that the company had tried to address the various problems, including acquiring new premises and relocating some of its work, and continued to work to address the remaining issues.
"It has fitted anti-vibration pads to the press, and ceased to use its function as a laser press, and it is possible that this may have remedied the noise problem. The company is also exploring its options with regard to the paint fumes."
Anglo ERI's operations director Peter Moore said: "Anglo ERI Limited, which commenced trading from its premises in Little End Road in Eaton Socon in July 2007, confirms its commitment to the conduct of its site operations in accordance with all applicable laws, planning consents and environmental regulations with due regard to its neighbours.
"Anglo ERI has invested and will continue to invest significant funds to meet those commitments.
"The board of Anglo ERI does not consider it is breaching any planning consents or applicable laws and has been provided with no evidence of such alleged breaches.
"The board is concerned by the approval given to the issue of an enforcement notice by HDC with regard to the future operations of Anglo ERI and the consequences such notice may have for future employment in the locality."
Authority to issue an enforcement notice was granted by the development control panel last week. The notice will require the company to ensure that no noise or paint odour is detected in the nearby residential areas, will limit the use of the rear yard, and will require a roller shutter door in the rear of the building to remain closed.
"The rear yard is currently vacant and the roller shutter door has been securely closed, but it is necessary for this situation to continue to avoid further noise problems. It will be down to the company to decide how to comply with the notice," Mrs Kinnersley said.
The company has four months from when the notice takes effect to comply with the noise and odour issues, and three days for the use of the rear yard and the roller shutter door. It can appeal.
Huntingdonshire District and St Neots Town Councillor Gordon Thorpe said: "The residents of Admirals Way have suffered for four long years from dust and paint fume pollution, noise from extractor fans, noise from fork lift trucks operating in the rear yard within sight and earshot of the residents and latterly, the continual thump of punch presses.
"While I am pleased that enforcement action has finally been taken, I only wish that it had been taken sooner to give the residents of Admirals Way the quality of life to which they are entitled.