Article by Guy Bell: Plans for a virtually assisted petrol station in Billericay have been rejected amid safety fears, congestion and the adverse effect it would have on the area.
The proposals for the site, at Wallinhurst Garage in Chapel Street, included four automated petrol pumps, a canopy, floodlights and a shop and were recommended for approval by planning officers.
But Basildon Borough Council refused the application on the grounds of visual and residential amenity as well as safety concerns. Two plans had been submitted by the developer previously which included a car wash and underground diesel tankers.
The decision to reject the revolutionary development was made at a Basildon Council planning committee meeting on Tuesday, January 26 despite previous plans being amended. Although the plans could not be rejected on the basis of safety fears and traffic woes, Councillor Andrew Schrader was unable to see the point in an unmanned petrol station.
[quote width="auto" align="none" border="#0066cc" color="#0066cc" title="Quoted by Andrew Schrader"]When I first heard about an unmanned petrol station I thought 'that is interesting'. But the more I hear about it, maybe I am missing something, but I don't see the merit in it having nobody serving it and watching it the whole time on CCTV. Essex Highways don't know what they are on about "Traffic going through that part of town is not slow moving; it is static. It is mad. No way am I going to put my name to it because I would get skinned alive. It would create chaos.[/quote]
Members of the public gallery also made their frustrations at the plans known including the nearby homeowners.
[quote width="auto" align="none" border="#0066cc" color="#0066cc" title="Quoted by Mr Lay, who lives in Chapel Court"]I live on Hillside Road and we are only five metres away from the above-ground 55,000 litre diesel tank. The impact on residential neighbours will be from the noise and the intrusive nature of lighting. The 24-hour operation encourages transactions through the night and into the morning and there will be the associated noises of car doors opening and closing, the speaker link and the noise of the pumps. As far as I can see the 24-hour petrol option will not be effective.[/quote]
Mike Andrews, chairman of Billericay Action Group, felt the borough's planning officers failed to respect Billericay Town Council's decision to reject the idea of an unmanned petrol station.
[quote width="auto" align="none" border="#0066cc" color="#0066cc" title="Quoted by Mike Andrews"]I have to say Basildon planning department is opting to ignore the elected residents of Billericay. This site has not dispensed petrol for years. There is only one route out of Billericay from that area and that is to go south. There are fewer than 100 sites like this across the UK and I have heard about leading problems. Our police station is to close and our PCSOs don't work at night.[/quote]
Original article by Guy Bell, Brentwood Gazette