Major employer Gist voices traffic fears over 357 homes plan for Three Cherry Trees Lane but planning committee’s hands are tied

Gist fears increased traffic will force relocation of business.
Gist fears increased traffic will force relocation of business.

A warehouse and transport firm that employs around 800 people in Hemel Hempstead has warned may be forced to move out if traffic issues are not dealt with as part of plans for 357 new homes nearby.

Fears over expected increased traffic were voiced in a letter by haulage giant Gist to Dacorum Borough Council’s development control committee, which considered detailed housing plans for land off Three Cherry Trees Lane.

Planned 357 homes development for Three Cherry Trees Lane, Hemel Hempstead. PNL-140303-141724001

Planned 357 homes development for Three Cherry Trees Lane, Hemel Hempstead. PNL-140303-141724001

But councillors’ hands were tied when looking at the 357 home development because outline planning permission was granted in October 2012 and that was when highway implications should have been considered.

In a letter from Gist, summarised by council case officer Nigel Gibbs, the firm said it would ‘not like to be put in a position or situation where their business needs to relocate’ and went on to say that it could not understand why the ‘upgrade’ and ‘access’ to Three Cherry Trees Lane had not been considered.

Gist, which objected to the latest planning application covering appearance, landscaping, layout and scale, also objected to the outline planning application back in 2012.

Mr Gibbs, who recommended the latest application put forward by Barratt Homes for approval, told the committee on Thursday: “This is a very important transition between a historic industrial site to a residential development.”

A neighbour to the proposed homes, Joanne Read, said she was not opposed to development there but said there needs to be an appropriate infrastructure scheme.

“All the documents I have seen already confirm that the existing road network is already over loaded.

“Everyone leaving that site will be turning onto a road where Gist operates and they have 27 lorries an hour turning out of that site.

“We have absolutely no information on how these traffic issues are going to be addressed.”

John Brindley from CMYK Planning and Design, who was representing Barratt Homes, said the development would be made up of 40 per cent affordable housing and, in total, more than £3.5 million will be contributed to local infrastructure.

“This is an important strategic housing development site for Hemel Hempstead,” he said.

“It has taken 10 years to get to this point.”

Councillors who raised concerns about traffic were reminded that the issue had already been determined as part of the outline proposal.

Committee chairman Councillor Graham Sutton said: “The issues regarding access and traffic have already been determined.”

But Councillor Colette Wyatt-Lowe said: “Since outline planning permission was granted things have moved on and traffic has increased in Three Cherry Trees Lane.”

Mr Gibbs told councillors: “I don’t think that we can in any way retrace our steps.”

The committee voted to approve the application subject to no new matters arising from an outstanding consultation period.