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Concerns over increased HGV traffic to Chalcroft Distribution Park

February 21, 2007 10:00 PM
Chalcroft Distribution Park, Burnetts Lane, West End

Chalcroft Distribution Park, Burnetts Lane, West End

This evening there was a good meeting held to discuss the problems associated with the increasing levels of Heavy Goods Vehicle (HGV) traffic operating from Chalcroft Distribution Park near West End. This centre started life as a rail freight distribution centre in the first half of the 20th Century and over the years it has turned solely into a road haulage distribution centre but at the start of the 21st century the levels of HGV traffic greatly increased to the point where serious accidents are happening and sleep of the residents near the centre is being disturbed.

Wall smashed after accident near Wesley House in Burnetts Lane

Wall smashed after accident near Wesley House in Burnetts Lane

At the meeting there were Eastleigh Borough Council Officers representing all the affected disciplines at the council from traffic, planning, planning enforcement, environmental health to legal and democratic services; from the community were representatives from Burnetts Lane Residents Association and Moorgreen Road Residents Association; as elected representatives there were councillors from Eastleigh Borough, West End Parish, Fair Oak Parish, Bishopstoke Parish, Hedge End Town and Botley Parish councils.

HGV turning into Burnetts Lane

HGV turning into Burnetts Lane

The aim of the meeting was for the residents to express their concerns and for the Borough Council Officers to explain what the council has done and can do with respect to the various issues associated with the distribution park. The various councillors there including all four West End's Borough Councillors all tried to help the process of finding a way forward to improve the lives of the effected residents.

HGV leaving Burnetts Lane on the wrong side of the road as usual

HGV leaving Burnetts Lane on the wrong side of the road as usual

After a full and very open discuss the meeting was able to establish a number of points these included :-

  • Chalcroft Distribution Park was established as a freight storage and distribution centre sometime between the two World Wars and was operated by the Ministry of Defence as such a centre until the late 1980's / early 1990's, at that time it was sold to the private sector.
  • The increase in road traffic started with the switch of the centre to use by private haulage firms.
  • Planning consent was not required to build the site because it was built before planning legislation was introduced after the Second World War.
  • Upon the introduction of planning legislation in the late 1940's all existing buildings and establishments were given a planning designation, from the start the planning designation was a site of storage and distribution. Although over the years the technical planning name has changed from sui generis to B8 due to recent planning acts updating the names, but the planning designation has always been the same.
  • A list of planning applications and permissions given or refused over the years was given to the two residents groups.
  • The Borough Council control over the site is limited to planning application conditions only and these can only be introduced when a planning application is made, therefore each of the units on the have different planning conditions attached to them. However most of the site has no planning conditions attached to them restricting HGV movement because there have been no suitable planning applications made to attach them to.
  • Where the Borough Council can attach conditions the normal conditions are no increase in HGV movements and a limit on the number of night time movements.
  • The problem with planning conditions is the maximum fine the courts can apply for breaking such a condition is £1000, which an unscrupulous operator may see as an extra operating cost. On buildings not built to the plans the planning authority does have much strong powers in that the building could be knocked down and replaced with one that does meet the plans.
  • Eastleigh Borough Council as the planning authority has no power to review the whole operation of the site they only have power to accept or reject planning applications as they are made.
  • Real authority to restrict HGV movements and operations lies not with any local authority but with the central government controlled Traffic Commissioner. This commissioner is based not in Whitehall but in Leeds, therefore to make this commissioner understand the problems of using Burnetts Lane for high volumes of regular HGV traffic is that much harder, because unlike all the local councillors and council officers the commissioner does not have a clue where Burnetts Lane is or even West End for that matter.
  • Notices for changes of operation of HGV are published on the traffic commissioners website and have to be published in a local paper chosen by the applicant. Often applicants from Chalcroft Distribution Park use the Portsmouth News which the traffic commissioner says is suitable because it is sold in Eastleigh, but then so are newspapers from across the country and overseas.
  • The costs to move the site to one with better road connections are prohibitive even if the owner wished to move.
  • The costs for the County Council to build a new road to the site are also prohibitive, although it may be possible to make improvement to Burnetts Lane to make traffic flow safer.
  • It would also be possible to change the speed limit on Burnetts Lane although this would be unusual for an area which is not heavily populated.
  • If enough of a fuss is made with each application to the Traffic Commissioner then a review of the sites operation can be conducted and new conditions of operation applied to all HGV movements to and from the site.

So in conclusion Eastleigh Borough Council's powers to affect traffic movements to and from Chalcroft Distribution Park are limited mainly to planning applications and the councils aims on all planning matters are defined in the Local Structure Plan, which can be found at :-

http://www.eastleigh.gov.uk/pdf/ppdModsChapter705.pdf - page 112

The correct Planning Policy within this Local Structure Plan is 123.E and it says that - Proposals for the alteration, extension or change of use of existing land and buildings at the Chalcroft Distribution Park will be permitted provided all of the following criteria are met:

  • i. no development should extend beyond the curtilage of the existing site;
  • ii. they would not result in an increase in heavy goods vehicles or other traffic movements which would be detrimental to the surrounding highway network; and
  • iii. they would not adversely affect the site of importance for nature conservation.

It would be good if the Traffic Commissioners licensing policies also reflected the policies of the Local Planning authorities, in this case Eastleigh Borough's Local Structure Plan point 123.E. Commenting on this local councillor David Goodall said :-

"Eastleigh Borough Council has to decide whether or not to give an entertainment license to a person playing a guitar at a public performance in a community hall and whether or not the noise impact on neighbours is too great. Yet if that same person were to regularly drive through the neighbourhood in a HGV Eastleigh Borough Council would not have any formal say. This is truly a case of over centralise government gone mad."

The main aim now is to get and a review of the site's operation by the Traffic Commissioner. So Eastleigh Borough Council officers and Councillors undertook to write letters to support the agreed planning policy to any further license requests to the Traffic Commissioner.