The council’s “reluctant” decision to allow a six storey concrete plant to be sited at the city’s biggest beauty spot will set a dangerous precedent all over MK, councillors have admitted.
The development, which will cause noise, dust and 240 lorry movements a day, will be built at scenic Willen Lake North, less than 500 metres away from Willen Hospice.
Despite vociferous objections from the public, hospice bosses and the Parks Trust, the planning application from Mick George Ltd was voted through at Tuesday’s development control committee meeting.
“Our hands were tied. It was a horrible situation,” said committee chair Andrew Geary.
“If we’d refused it, the applicant could have gone to appeal and won. But the appeal may not have imposed the conditions we did to minimise any noise, disruption or visual impact.”
Tory councillor Mr Geary did not support the application. It was voted through by six votes to three, with three Labour councillors, two Lib Dems and one Conservative in favour.
Seven people made speeches begging the committee to refuse. One of them was ward councillor Sam Crooks, who presented a petition with more than 9,000 signatures.
Afterwards the veteran Lib Dem said: “This is a terrible decision which will set a dangerous precedent for many of our city’s other beauty spots.”
Mr Crooks had urged Mick George Ltd to consider building their plant in an official ‘bad neighbour use’ industrial area, such as Old Wolverton or Bleak Hall.
“There are other perfect sites. Why allow one of our most beautiful and, because of the hospice, most sensitive areas to be scarred by this?” he said.
Mr Geary agreed the decision could “open the floodgates” for similar planning applications, but said each application would be considered on its own merit.
“In terms of planning law, there was no reasons for us to refuse this one,” he said.
“In terms of emotion it was difficult. I could not bring myself to support it because of my own emotional attachment to Willen Hospice, where both my grandparents spent their final days.”
Mr Geary is now demanding to know why the council does not have a firm policy about sites for concrete, gravel and mineral extraction and supply.
His brother, fellow councillor Peter Geary, requested such a policy 18 months ago and the Labour Cabinet agreed to implement it.
Peter Geary said this week: “If this policy had been in place, the Willen Lake application may never have happened.”
The Citizen has asked Peterborough-based Mick George Ltd why they chose Willen Lake over other MK sites.
We are awaiting a reply.