Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Road Haulage Group to Relocate Despite Controversy

Sites Occupied for Sixty Years will be Developed for Housing
Shipping News Feature

UK – Despite causing some local controversy, Cambridge based road haulage operators Welch's Transport, part of the Welch Group of companies, has been given permission to relocate from its current bases in Stapleford and Great Shelford to a new nine acre headquarters on the outskirts of Duxford. The site of the current premises of Welch's Transport, Welch's Crane Hire and WTL Truck and Van Ltd will be transformed into a new housing development which, the company says will blend naturally with the surrounding, existing housing. The plans for the new headquarters came up against strong opposition from District Councillor for Whittlesford, Thriplow and Heathfield, Peter Topping who, at the district planning committee meeting, said:

“This is an application which is a clear departure from the district development plan, and which cuts across the council’s own Local development framework with regard to the protection of the green space that surrounds the villages of south Cambridgeshire. It is opposed by the elected representatives of the local communities. In order to shoehorn the development into it, the environmental health report proposes some 28 conditions and restrictions, which gives some indication of how challenging a site this is, for the purposes to which this planning application seeks to put it.

“No-one in their right mind would choose this site to build nearly 3000 square metres of warehousing, a total build of nearly 5000 square metres, parking for 72 cars and 40 lorries, not to mention a car show room, a mobile crane facility, lorry washing and so on and if this development goes ahead no-one in their right mind will try to cross the A505, whether on foot, or on a bike, or even by car.

“The residents of the villages of Duxford and Whittlesford, trying to get onto the A505 by car will need to negotiate with even fiercer traffic flows than at present. An already hazardous road will become even more so. But the bigger picture is that Welch’s, to remain viable, have to find a site other than that in Stapleford. If it is the case that this scheme is approved, then I ask the committee, on behalf of the local residents, to remit to the officers to find some solution that makes this junction of the A505 a safer one and in particular a safer crossing place. If this road was made safer to cross then people would feel safer and they would use it.”

After approval was given despite all Mr Topping’s objections he added: “Villagers are disappointed, but that is tempered with recognition this was probably going to happen. People understand this is a local firm that has been looking to move for 20 years.”

Managing director Jim Welch, grandson of the founder, was clearly delighted at the result and commented that, although the original sites had been constructed in the 1950’ and had served well times had changed and it was essential for the businesses to move to ensure their development whilst a local site was necessary to maintain continuity of business.