An Inspector appointed by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government granted planning permission on 28 October 2015 for the development of a new petrol filling station, to include a sales building, canopy, fuel pumps, boundary treatments, and fuel tanks on land adjacent to the Fenn Roundabout, following a planning inquiry held on 8-10 September 2015.

Chelmsford City Council’s first reason for refusal had alleged that the proposed development did not fall within the specific criteria of development set out in its Core Strategy and Development Control Policies. In particular, the Council did not consider that there was an overriding need for the development nor that it fell within the description of local transport infrastructure.

Our founding director, Rupert Lyons gave evidence to the public inquiry on transport planning matters. His evidence demonstrated that the proposed development could quite reasonably be considered to represent local transport infrastructure – with reference to paragraph 31 of the National Planning Policy Framework (2012) – and that there is a need for a modern roadside petrol filling station to serve local and passing motorists in South Woodham Ferrers.

In a landmark decision (APP/W1525/W/14/3001905), the Inspector, John Felgate BA (Hons) MA MRTPI, was satisfied with the case set out and concluded that “the development now proposed falls within the provision for local transport infrastructure” and that it “would go some way to meeting an otherwise unmet, or inadequately met, need for a petrol station and motorist facilities in the area.” In his consideration of the highway safety concerns raised by local residents, the Inspector determined that the appeal site was an appropriate location for a petrol filling station; that the proposed site access arrangement “would be difficult to improve on”; that the development was likely to attract passing trade rather than new trips to the highway network; and that, therefore, he had no reason to contradict the view of the Highway Authority, Essex County Council, which had not objected.