Keynsham concrete firm is refused hours extension
A Keynsham concrete manufacturer has been denied permission to start operating at 6.30am due to the unacceptable impact on nearby residents.
After hearing of 4Concrete’s “devastating” impact on neighbours, Councillor Eleanor Jackson said Bath and North East Somerset Council should not wait until someone suffers a mental health breakdown before it acts.
The Avon Mill Lane firm operates between 7.30am and 5.30pm on weekdays but it wanted to start an hour earlier and finish an hour later.
A previous application granted in November approved the same hours on a trial basis once it erected effective acoustic barriers to limit the noise – but Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic meant their cost proved prohibitive.
Councillors refused the latest scheme despite officers warning that the council was “very likely” to face a costly appeal.
Objector Mike May told the planning committee on July 28: “This ongoing situation has had a considerable impact on all of the residents’ health and wellbeing. It’s had a devastating effect on a number of residents.
“If you can imagine being stuck at home with a serious illness and not being able to open a window for fresh air, then you will have some idea of what the site development has meant to residents.
“Quality of life in your own home shouldn’t be something we have to wish for.”
Keynsham east ward member Councillor Andy Wait said: “We all have a duty of care to these people.
“This is their home, their sanctuary, their place of safety, yet since December 2019 their lives and their mental and physical health have been damaged and disrupted by totally inappropriate behaviour from 4Concrete, who don’t seem to recognise that they operate metres away from residential dwellings. They have shown a complete lack of consideration for their neighbours.
“If this application is accepted by the committee, it makes a farce of B&NES Council’s duty of care and will be devastating for the residents’ wellbeing.”
Planning consultant Daniel Millward said 4Concrete was acutely aware of its impact on neighbours.
“The applicant is committed to resolving noise issues at the site to ensure the amenity of residents is protected while simultaneously securing the viability of their business over the longer term,” he said.
Recommending approval, planning officers proposed only allowing extended operating hours when the acoustic fences have proved to be effective. They judged that the impact on neighbouring residents would not be significant and warned that refusal would be difficult to defend given the previous consent.
Councillor Eleanor Jackson said: “I wonder sometimes why we see these applications at committee if there’s no choice between acceptance and refusal.
“I heard the noise. I think we’re open to criticism that officers haven’t stood in the garden at number one.
“It is a significant harm. I don’t think we should be waiting for a resident to have a mental health breakdown because they can’t get enough sleep and the noise is upsetting them.”
Councillor Paul Crossley seconded her motion to refuse planning permission, saying he could not see how the council could approve extending the hours until it knew the acoustic barriers worked.
The committee voted to reject the application by six votes to two against, with one abstention.
Stephen Sumner, Local Democracy Reporting Service