The land at Stone Business Park is currently vehicle storage space and Jaguar Land Rover wishes to change the use of 2.9 hectares (7.2 acres) on the eastern side – around 14 per cent of the total site – to accommodate the crates. They would be used to store vehicle parts and stacked up to two high.
Stafford Borough Council’s planning committee is due to consider the change of use application at a special meeting on Monday, June 6. The application has been recommended for approval by planning officers.
Jaguar Land Rover was granted permission for the 21 hectare (52 acre) vehicle storage site on land at Jasper Way in early 2018, despite strong opposition from Stone community leaders and residents of Aston by Stone.
A planning statement submitted as part of the latest application said: “This storage use is in association with the primary storage and vehicle distribution use of the site and will provide Jaguar Land Rover additional flexibility in the use of the site and to maximise storage space. This storage use falls within Use Class B8, however due to the restrictive nature of Condition 3, the crate storage falls outside the scope of the existing condition.
“Operating hours for crates to be delivered in to/out of Stone would be between 7am and 5pm. HGV movements will be less than what was previously considered acceptable, therefore there will be no material change in the intensity of the use of the site.
“The layout scale and appearance of the site will not be altered. There are no physical alterations planned to the site.
“The proposal seeks to utilise existing car parking spaces to store crates. Maximum storage height will be no higher than three metres (the fence line height) and no more than two crates high.”
Both Stone Town Council and Stone Rural Parish Council have objected to the latest application, as have eight residents.
A Church Lane resident said: “This proposed change of use is in contravention of the original planning condition three which permits storage of vehicles only and should not be permitted based on design and amenity. The present fence does not screen the six feet high vehicles and will not even come close to screening various coloured containers particularly as the proposal is for them to be up to 10 feet high and on a hill.
“They will look hideous and will further detract from the approach to Stone along the A34 northbound. No assurances have been given with regards to the contents of the containers and any possible leakage of noxious fluids which could find their way into local watercourses.
“It seem likely that heavy lifting gear will be needed to manoeuvre the crates and this would represent noise and detriment to the environment. This site already breaches assurances given about lighting which is too bright, too high and seldom turned off.
“This application for a change of use represents the thin edge of the wedge, paving the way for further detrimental applications. There is no balancing gain for the council or for the community and the application should be refused.”
A Stafford Road resident said there were: “no assurances about the possibility of noxious substances affecting land, people (and) wildlife (and) no assurances offered regarding the noise (and) safety of using of heavy lifting equipment to move metal creates.
They added: “The storage of metal crates will detract from the rural location and will be an eyesore to the local area due to its position and lack of obscurity. Local people have not been consulted on the application.”
A Willow Dale resident said: “Traffic on the stretch of the A34 is very busy. Long tail backs and fast moving traffic, unpredictable volume of traffic plus the ever present large lorries are problematic to travel and make it difficult to manage a return to normal life after Covid-19.
“The screening to the site is very poor. The expanse of car park is clearly visible and large crates will result in further negative visual impact.
“The site has been in operation for a number of years and measures put in place to screen the site have been wholly inadequate. Planting has not been sympathetic to the rural surroundings or local wildlife.
“The night time light ‘glow’ coming from the site is intrusive (and) it can be seen clearly from the village of Aston-by-Stone and from much further afield. My concern relates to both loss of darkness and the environmental ethical issue of lighting a space unnecessarily.”