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Thrupp Lane

Friday, 30 March 2012 09:41

Thrupp Lane is entirely unsuitable for HGVs Thrupp Lane is entirely unsuitable for HGVs Photo: © Jane Tomlinson

Thrupp Lane residents suffer from hundreds of massive and heavily laden vehicles squeezing, rumbling and clattering down a lane that (except for the tarmac) is unchanged since pedestrians and horse-drawn vehicles carved it out hundreds of years ago.

Permission to extract and process sand and gravel on Thrupp Lane, in the Green Belt was originally granted to H Tuckwell and Son Ltd (Tuckwells) in 1979, with extensions since. In 2002, Tuckwells was granted another five years. In practice Tuckwells has not actually excavated material from the site since 1995 and has used the plant, without authority and therefore unlawfully, to process sand and gravel brought in by HGVs from other sites. Tuckwells also has approval for a concrete batching operation on the same site.

There are other works, including old quarry workings, beyond the Tuckwells site on Thrupp Lane. J Curtis and Son (Curtis) owns land beside Barton Lane (which runs towards Abingdon Science Park) to the south west. The land includes a former quarry still estimated to contain 1 million tonnes of extractable gravel and sand, and a site on which a number of other commercial premises operate, in some cases without valid planning consent. These works have been the subject of an application for a CLEUD (Certificate of Lawfulness for Existing Use or Development) that has still not been decided. The quarry benefits from a Review of Old Mineral Permission.

Tuckwells has produced figures suggesting that the various commercial operations on Thrupp Lane generate 250-300 HGV movements a day on Thrupp Lane. But tiny Thrupp Lane is totally unsuitable for HGVs. It is mainly single track with several sharp bends; it is a bridleway and is part of Sustrans Cycle Route No 5. It is also well used for the agricultural, residential and leisure access for which it is suitable. But these users - as well as residents - suffer from regular intense HGV traffic rumbling by just outside their doors.

Curtis and Tuckwell have both made applications to legalise or extend the use of their sites for those activities which are not covered by formal approvals. An application by Tuckwells for a CLEUD was rejected in 2010 but has been resubmitted and is pending, as is the Curtis CLEUD referred to above.

Tuckwells has now put forward an application for permission to use the site for 15 years to process the million tonnes not previously extracted from the Curtis quarry, and have undertaken to stop the importation of sand and gravel for processing immediately and withdraw their CLEUD application if they receive consent. They also promise to replace the existing unsightly and intrusive reprocessing equipment with more environmentally suitable modern equipment.

The proposal is something of a Faustian deal which might reduce the impact of Tuckwells' sand and gravel operations on Thrupp Lane and bring them to an end in a finite period, with the implicit threat that they may otherwise continue indefinitely. But it would make only a small difference to the level of the totally unacceptable and dangerous HGV traffic on Thrupp Lane.

What we want for Thrupp Lane is an alternative mandatory route for HGVs to be created. We want to see a co-ordinated approach from the County and District Councils to achieve better control over an area that makes a mockery of the principles of the Green Belt and of good planning practice.

And in 2012, the complex situation is still not resolved. The Tuckwells' application was approved by the Vale of White Horse District Council's planning committee on 16 April. However, there is a new condition requiring a production limit for the plant so as to avoid any worsening of the traffic. There are also ongoing talks, involving local residents, about alternative HGV routes. Finally, Tuckwells is required to dismantle the old plant. All small steps in the right direction, but a long way to go until peace can be declared on Thrupp Lane.

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