Inspector puts jobs ahead of greenbelt in Thurrock

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A GOVERNMENT inspector has overruled Thurrock Council and granted planning permission for a controversial industrial development in South Ockendon.

After the authority ejected an application by toward Tenens Associates to use land off Stifford Road o store pallets and for the parking and storage of HGV vehicles and decided to take enforcement action against he company to clear the site, Tenens appealed and a public inquiry was held. Though the inspector has cknowledged that the site in the greenbelt, he decided to overrule the council and give a temporary permission of five years.

The reasoning behind the ecision was that it would secure jobs in the area and ives the firm sufficient time to find a new site. The inspector said the term’s pledge to restore the and when they eventually moved and to put up screening during use weighed heavily in their favour. Though he acknowledged there was “significant harm to the greenbelt,” he added: The retention of jobs is a significant benefit in the short term.”

When the decision was reported at last week’s planning committee meeting of the Council, Cllr Phil Anderson sought clarification from planning chief Andrew Millard.

A perplexed Cllr Anderson said: “Our plan obviously allocates a number of more suitable sites for the creation of jobs and storage is an issue that you would have thought could have been established fairly quickly on them.

“At another point in the meeting tonight we are told by the Secretary of State that the fact that you have a need for something doesn’t mean you have special circumstances to develop the greenbelt.”

Mr Millard said:“It’s difficult to get into the inspectors’ mind. Clearly there was in the inspector’s mind a balancing exercise to be had.

“And the five year consent gives the operator time to find a more suitable site.

“It does mean the harm to the greenbelt is short term. It’s a balance but the long term protection of the greenbelt is the fundamental point as it is only a five year permission granted.”

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