The long-running saga of the lorries accessing Bedmax through the small hamlet of Detchant has reared its head again, thanks to new plans.
The successful horse-bedding manufacturer, which is based at Greymare Farm, accessed via the U34, has submitted an application to extend further its production plant.
This scheme, for a new building which will house a new bales press and packaging machine, follows the approval of an application in May last year which offered an opportunity to implement a traffic management plan to manage the number and times of HGV movements, result in the creation of four passing places and establish a liaison group to discuss issues.
Last Thursday’s meeting of Belford Parish Council heard concerns from Malcolm Stanton, from the Residents of Detchant Association (Roda), while the owner of Detchant Lodge, on the corner of the U34 and the old A1, where the lorries turn into access the Bedmax plant, expressed her safety fears about the dangers of HGVs turning into this tight junction.
Coun Busher Keys said: “This problem is coming up and up and I don’t see how we are going to solve it, short of shutting the factory down and we can’t do that anyway.”
The resident of Detchant Lodge assured members that forcing the business to leave was not what anyone wanted.
Coun Tracy Bell said: “If this is passed, this could be up and running before the passing places. You would think Bedmax would be trying to make an application go as easily as possible rather than pushing on. How can we judge this application when the previous issues have not been resolved?”
Coun Steve White added: “Can we not object and say that the traffic management plan has not been implemented. It seems that one of the main problems is that Bedmax is doing nothing towards its obligations.”
However, the meeting did hear that the hold-up with installation of the passing places was not on Bedmax’s part, but the county council’s.
Overall, while members were mindful that this new building will not necessarily affect the levels of production, and therefore the levels of traffic, they were concerned that many of the previous issues which were due to be addressed as part of the previous application have not been dealt with.
The vote over whether to object to the application or just to make an observation over the road and the traffic plan received two votes apiece – three members had declared an interest and could not vote. It was down to acting chairman, Coun Reg Carruthers, to cast the deciding vote and he opted for an observation, rather than an objection to the extension.
Background to an ongoing issue
1999 – The original planning approval for the production plant had no conditions controlling traffic. Over the years, the company grew and the traffic increased.
2012/13 – The issue seemed to come to a head in late 2012/early 2013 when residents expressed concerns at a series of Belford Parish Council meetings.
2014/15 – Bedmax submitted a number of planning applications, some retrospective, which offered an opportunity for the county council to discusss the issues in earnest with Bedmax, but there is no sign of the passing places yet.