Express & Star

Plans passed for rural Rugeley workshop to become MOT test centre

A rural workshop used for repairing forestry and agricultural vehicles can now become an MOT test centre for smaller vehicles after Cannock Chase District Council gave the green light for its change of use.

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Kingsley Wood Road, Rugeley. Photo: Google

The Smalholding on Kingsley Wood Road, Rugeley, has been a vehicle repair and maintenance site for several decades.

But plans to change its use sparked concerns about more traffic in the area.

Cannock Chase District Council received one objection to the application. The objector, who owns the field and stables next to the site, said: "Since acquiring the land in 1996 we have seen an increase in usage including the start of a caravan site, that hosts in excess of 20 caravans at one time.

“The site is extremely busy and an MOT test centre would only increase this. The re-purposing of the site is not in keeping with the local area, AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty) or adjacent SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest).

“In addition, the tracks serving The Smallholding and Orsey Haven are in very poor condition and this has been exacerbated by the additional use, and would only become a bigger problem with the increased traffic that a testing centre would bring. In recent months the council have placed large boulders outside of our field to deter traffic and prevent further damage to the tracks and grass verge.”

But a supporting statement submitted to the council said: “The proposal would improve local traffic and the local environment by not needing to serve HGVs and large forestry machines such as forwarders and harvesters. If the site were to be used as a garage for small vehicles then it would be a vast improvement.

“It is worth stressing that all garages have stringent build standards, with customers having their own standards too, and the site owners take pride in their property, so there would be no problems of dust, pollution or litter. The change of use may improve the site from its current use.

“The application, as well as having an environmental gain, would also have an economic gain while also providing a local service which is in demand. The rural economy was 18% less productive than the national average; this proposal would help close this gap and improve the economic strength of Cannock Chase during these challenging economic times.”

On Wednesday members of Cannock Chase Council’s planning committee visited the site before making their decision on the change of use application. Planning officers had recommended the application for approval before the meeting and councillors voted in favour of the proposal.

Councillor Adrienne Fitzgerald said: “I propose we go ahead with it. it’s in accordance with the local plan and wouldn’t cause any significant harm to the AONB.”