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South Ribble traffic firm will have to tear down eight buildings

Posted on - 28th March, 2023 - 12:00pm | Author - | Posted in - Business, Politics, Preston News, South Ribble News
The entrance to the Duxburys complex where Ventbrook had put up the building

Ventbrook Limited will have to take down a number of office and storage buildings after a planning inspector said it was built without permission.

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The traffic management firm applied to South Ribble Borough Council 18 months ago seeking retrospective approval for work it had already carried out at its Chain House Lane headquarters in Whitestake.

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However, the authority refused to give the green light to a compound that had been created – made up of seven single-storey modular buildings and one two-storey unit – whose uses include the storage of road signs and temporary traffic lights.

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The company appealed against the council’s rejection of the completed facility – on land classed as green belt – but now an independent planning inspector has agreed with the local authority.

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That means the firm will likely have to dismantle the development – to the rear of Duxburys Garden Centre – or face enforcement action from the authority.

Ventbrook – which employs more than 60 people – has told the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) that it is “disappointed” with the appeal decision, but is now “working with [the council] and our landlord on addressing the issues raised”.

What the inspector said

The planning inspector – identified in their report only as “K.L. Robbie” – concluded that the compound did not meet any of the limited exemptions permitting development in the greenbelt and that neither had it been demonstrated that any other “very special circumstances” existed to justify it.

They noted that a 2.1 metre-high palisade fence had been erected around the appeal site and found that the works as whole had resulted in its greenbelt location being “less open” than it was beforehand

Robbie also said that the development had an “untidy, urbanised feel to it, at odds with the predominantly semi-rural nature of its surroundings” – and questioned the “operational need” for the business to be based on its current plot.

“The modular buildings on the site and the palisade fencing are similar to others close by. However, the spread of buildings…serves to join up the currently visually separate uses and buildings in this location,” the inspector added, stating that they were required to attach “substantial weight” to the harm done to the greenbelt.

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Reaction from Duxburys

However, Ventbrook’s landlord has blasted the inspector’s decision, along with the district council for refusing permission in the first place.

Frank Duxbury told the LDRS that he was “amazed” at the outcome “considering all the other business activities in the greenbelt”.

“There is development fore and aft [to the front and rear] of the compound and the space they rent from Duxburys has been used constantly for around 35 to 40 years as storage and parking.

“I think to try and exclude a firm that operates a business that affects every driver in the area by managing roadworks and traffic accidents by putting out traffic cones and traffic lights for our safety is a bit harsh.

“I must add they are great tenants and cause no bother to anyone. One of the arguments [against the compound] was that they operate 24 hours a day. Last time I checked it was not illegal to put out traffic cones at 2am for road safety.

“It’s just another case of strangling a small business that employs over 60 or so staff,” Mr. Duxbury added.

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