Cafe plan prompts concern over road safety in parish

The proposed site

The proposed site - Credit: Archant

Offord Cluny and Offord D’Arcy Parish Council has recommended a plan to turn office blocks into a restaurant/café be refused because of concerns over road safety.

The entrance to the site

The entrance to the site - Credit: Archant

A planning application has been submitted by planning agents Barford and Co which proposes to change the use of offices to a restaurant/café on Greenewable Park, in Offord Cluny.

The park, which is a long established business site, is made up of a series of linked industrial and warehouse buildings and is by the railway crossing between Offord and Buckden.

The application, which relates to two of the office units at the front of the site.

In August, Huntingdonshire District Council (HDC) granted retrospective planning permission for shipping containers to be used as warehouses and office units.

The current application seeks planning permission for the change of use of two offices to allow the sale of food and drink for consumption on the premises.

The application states: “It is considered there is demand for a restaurant/café at the site that will serve the workers employed on Greenewable Park and walkers who use the local footpath network along the railway line and the river.

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“This will also meet a wider village need improving the range of faculties in the village following the closure of the Swan public house restaurant that was granted planning permission in September 2016 for change of use to a dwelling and the erection of two new dwellings.

“Although most of the customers are expected to be working on or local to the site, parking for visitors to the restaurant café will be available on the site frontage where there are 29 spaces and this will be shared with the car retained offices.”

Offord Cluny and Offord D’Arcy Parish Council has recommended refusal of the site due to concerns over traffic control.

They said: “As a parish council we are keen to encourage the development of such facilities and employment opportunities within the Offords.

“It is the location of the proposed development and the impact upon road safety that is our cause for concern.

“It is situated only 20 metres to the west of our very busy level crossing, so vehicles attempting to turn right into Greenewables create tailbacks that can leave traffic stranded on the railway lines.

“Vehicles coming from the direction of Buckden have to negotiate two single track bridges and two blind corners as they approach the crossing, which often creates gridlock on that side.

“Some 238 trains per day are scheduled along this stretch of line, resulting in the gates being closed for 35 minutes in the hour – more at peak times.

“To make matters worse, Network Rail and their Digital Railway project appear to be planning to increase the number of trains by 45 per cent over the course of the next few years, without any measures to mitigate the safety issues on level crossings such as ours.

“So, until we have clarity from Network Rail regarding their plans for managing safety and accessibility for the level crossing and its surrounds, the parish council feels unable to recommend acceptance for any planning application that will increase the level of traffic within the area.”

The parish council also raised issues with more traffic turning right into the site, which, it said, could add to the increasing problem of blocking the railway.

The parish council went on to say: “Council urges Highways to conduct an up to date survey taking into account the increased traffic since the last survey was done in 1991 and the predictions are re the A14 traffic and additional level crossing closure time.”

The public consultation closed on April 19 and the plan is awaiting consideration by the district council.