The long running sage relating the planning applications for services stations on the M42 is nearing its local conclusion with the matters being scrutinized at Solihull’s Planning Committee next Wednesday, 24 February.
Access to the whole agenda, with officers reports etc can be found via this link: Agenda for Planning Committee on Wednesday 24th February 2021, 6.00 pm | Solihull City and District Council
For people new to this issue you may find a lot more about the history of both applications in posts on my website, which has Motorway Services in a drop down menu to the right: Motorway Servuce Area – Ken Hawkins (cllrkenhawkins.co.uk)
I understand the need for a service station ‘somewhere’ between the M40 and the M6/Toll Road. Travelling north from Warwick can mean a distance of over 50 miles to the next service station. However, retrofitting a service station has brought with it substantial environmental consequence.
I will now briefly highlight officers’ comments in reports before the planning committee.
Application PL/2015/51409 relates to one on the M42 between junction 5 and 6. The officers report can be read here:
The officers recommendation reads: The Council are minded to approve the planning application subject to: – (i)The referral of the application to the National Planning Casework unit under the Town and Country Planning (Consultation) (England) Direction 2009; and (ii)The conditions and S106 Agreement set out below.
Later the report continues ‘For the reasons outlined above the very special circumstances necessary to justify the proposed development have been demonstrated to exist and the proposed development accords with the Development Plan and government policy.
I am sure many will continue to fight this proposal on both highway safety and environmental grounds and I support them in that.
Application PL/2016/02754/MAJFOT relates to Land Adjacent J4 M42 Box Tree Farm Stratford Road Hockley (basically land off the motorway island). The report can be read here:
My worry with this application has always been about ecological and environmental damage as well as highway issues with some 75% of vehicle accessing and egressing the proposed service station via the motorway island into Gate Lane.
I am naturally elated officers have recommended this application be refused, partly on the following grounds:
‘The application development is inappropriate and would cause harm by definition to the Green Belt, significant harm to the openness of the Green Belt involving significant development on a large site (9.9 ha) which is currently open countryside, and very significant harm is caused as it also conflicts with 3 of the 5 purposes of including land within Green Belts, located to the east of Solihull in a narrow and vulnerable part of the Green Belt between Solihull (Monkspath) and Dorridge/Knowle, on the east side of the M42 at J4. The overall harm to the Green Belt is given very substantial weight in the planning balance.’
And later in the report ‘The very special circumstances put forward by the applicant in support of the proposal do not clearly outweigh the harm to the Green Belt by reason of inappropriateness and the other harm resulting from the proposal.
I have yet to decide if I am to make representations at planning committee and may do so via a written report supporting the officer’s recommendations. I may feel I do not wish to add to the burden of the meeting as there are likely to ben many speakers in relation to the application between junction 5 and 6. The meeting will be streamed live via the councils YouTube page.