New protection approved between housing estate and hazardous waste site

A wooden fence separating a new housing development from a hazardous waste site is set to be replaced by a heat shield twice as tall – despite concerns it will do little to improve safety.

Cannock Chase Council has approved plans for a 4m high heat shield fence to replace the existing 2m high wooden acoustic fence along the boundary of Haling Way and Axil Integrated Services.

The application was put forward as part of a series of measures aimed at reducing the risk to residents of the Chenet Chase development in the event of a fire at the Axil Integrated Services site.

Planning permission was granted in 2016 for 111 new homes at Chenet Chase, near the waste site at Walkmill Lane, Bridgtown, including 55 for social housing.

In June 2017 Cannock Chase Council was invited by housing association Walsall Housing Group (whg) to nominate residents for the first seven social properties.

But the following month a report was submitted to the council by the waste site operator – then Augean and now Axil Integrated Services – identifying risks associated with fire and the release of toxic gas that could affect the new development’s residents.

The 48 remaining social homes remained vacant for several months after their completion after whg and Cannock Chase Council decided not to fill them until the risks were more clearly understood.

The housing estate

As well as the 4m high heat shield along the entire boundary of the site with Axil Integrated Services whg agreed to measures including water sprinklers being fitted to an apartment block and 11 homes on the boundary perimeter, as well as the removal of two car parking spaces and the installation of a gated access at the apartment block.

The heat shield plans were recommended for approval by planning officers ahead of Wednesday’s planning committee meeting, which was held via video conference due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Concerns were raised that the heat shield would only improve safety by one per cent however.

Councillor Paul Startin said: “I don’t think there is a big enough benefit with the costs associated with this. It does nothing for the residents.”

“There are no records of fires at Axil – they have an excellent safety record

But planning officer Richard Sunter said: “It’s one of a package of measures. It’s not for the planning committee to look at the efficiency of the heat shield in terms of its proposed role – that is a matter for the applicant and the council acting as the housing authority.”

Councillor Alan Pearson said: “The metal fence is two metres higher than the wooden one – in my opinion it has got to be better and it can protect the firm from a potential house fire. It could even stop people climbing into the site.

“I would rather have something there that would give a little bit more safety – it’s better than nothing.”

Seven committee members voted in favour of the new fence, while five abstained.

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