No love for Bloxham garage

Planning refused again
Planning refused again

It may have been Valentines day but there was little in the way of affection shown for the Motor Fuel Group as the Bloxham petrol station's lights came up for discussion by Cherwell's planning committee.

For the second time in eight months Motor Fuel Group (MFG) submitted retrospective plans for its garage in Bloxham, having had plans for a 6.5 meter high, monolithic petrol station sign refused in July.

Still sticking to the mantra that it is easier to ask forgiveness than seek permission, this time MFG were seeking the retrospective approval for eight canopy lights.

During his presentation of the plan specifics to the committee planning officer Matthew Chadwick said : "Very limited information was submitted with this application, so the council commissioned its own lighting report.

"This survey identified the lighting of the forecourt was over twice the recommended luminescence levels for a petrol forecourt, that the colour temperature of the lights was higher than would be recommended in a rural setting and the light spill into a nearby grade II listed building was harmful to the amenities of the occupiers.

He concluded: "The application is recommended for refusal."

It didn't get any better for MFG as up first was the resident of the grade II listed building in question, Amanda Baxter, who detailed the lights disruptive and unhealthy influence on her home and family.

Next the discussion was turned over to the chamber where it went further down hill for the Motor Fuel Group. Cllr Chris Heath, a Bloxham resident, spoke first.

She said: "Mr and Mrs Baxter have lived in that house for the past 12 years, the garage has been there all that time and they have had no problems with it whatsoever.
"Everything was fine until February last year when all of a sudden the whole place was lit up like Blackpool.

"This was not with any permission whatsoever, MFG were then told they had to apply for retrospective permission. The main problem was a massive totem that had been put in place, half as big again as the previous one and lit from top to bottom. The officers chatted to them and they decided that it would be better if they did put a smaller totem in.

"Since then, some nine months on, we are still trying to sort out lights. This application came in in June 2018 and the delay has mainly been due to MFG who took over the garage last year. They have been totally uncooperative, they have been asked many times for further information and many times to have an independent lighting study done.

Cllr Heath added: "They have ignored the council and have done nothing they were asked to do so I put this delay down to them. I'm afraid MFG are a most inconsiderate company and they have no consideration for the community, for the neighbors and they have no consideration for the council."

Cllr Heath proposed to refuse the plan with Cll Macnamara seconding the motion.

Cllr Ian Corkin said: "This is like the bad smell that won't go away. No pre-application discussions, you might expect them to do that. Some of the lighting is not included in the planning so expect to see that coming to a planning committee near you soon.

"Additional expense to the council to commission a report the applicant should have done but didn't and they have form in this, they play fast and loose with the planning system time and again.
He concluded: "If we could I suggest we should be issuing an ASBO. I suggest we refuse it as quickly as possible and move to enforcement as quickly as possible."

Action is also being taken by other legal means to force MFG to adhere to regulations.

Paul Seckington, senior manager of development management at CDC, said: "We've already started to take action against the petrol station using powers under the Antisocial Behaviour Policing Act by serving a community protection warning that requires them to reduce the light levels to a certain level that it acceptable."

Cllr Cassi Perry also inquired about retrospectively looking at the decision to allow the garage to sell alcohol 24 hours.

The retrospective plans were refused unanimously.