Villagers have been left feeling "fobbed off" by a controversial council planning decision that they say would increase HGV traffic in their village and put lives at risk.

Residents of Great Ashfield, near Stowmarket, also claim the managing director of the company seeking to expand misled the planning committee last Wednesday (April 10).

The plans for the expansion of the Portable Space storage container site in Bacton, from haulage firm David Black and Son, were approved at the Mid Suffolk District Council meeting.

'No complaints in 10 years'

Chair Cllr Sarah Mansel asked a question on the safety of pedestrians when meeting Portable Space lorries in narrow lanes.

In response, managing director Mark Dolman replied that in his 10 years as managing director of the company he has "not had a single complaint about there being a problem with one of our lorries on those lanes".

But Wetherden Road resident Bob Riches said that several residents have complained to the company, including one elderly resident who was awarded compensation for damage caused to her hedge by a company lorry.

Mr Riches said: "This is a complete and utter lie. Several residents say they have complained to him, either by letter, email or phone call."

East Anglian Daily Times: Sarah Mansel, Green councillor for Elmswell and Woolpit Sarah Mansel, Green councillor for Elmswell and Woolpit (Image: Wendy Turner)

'We feel fobbed off'

Mr Riches, who said in December that anger was brewing in the village over the plans, added: "We feel fobbed off. The council and committee have been quick to ignore our concerns.

"They had a golden opportunity to impose restrictions on the amount of traffic, but instead offered to set up a community liaison group, which would have little impact on traffic."

The company already uses land at Red House Farm Rectory for the storage and refurbishing of shipping containers, and part of the application was retrospective as the company already uses land on the site and at Jacksons Farm, in breach of planning regulations.

East Anglian Daily Times: Bob Riches, resident of Wetherden Road in Great Ashfield near Stowmarket.Bob Riches, resident of Wetherden Road in Great Ashfield near Stowmarket. (Image: Bob Riches)

He added: "I also find it hard to believe that the council allowed the company to continue trading despite not having planning permission, trading illegally with highly visible lorries for years."

'No extra lorry movements'

A spokesperson from David Black and Son said: "We are pleased that the planning committee approved the planning application, which facilitates some internal re-location of activities within our site and supports 75 local jobs.

"The comment about complaints from Great Ashfield residents responded to a question about the behaviour of lorry drivers. The response was made that there have been no complaints about lorry drivers.

"The planning committee were fully aware about local traffic issues because the parish council spoke at the meeting and some residents had written to the council.  

"This proposal actually consolidates containers on one site thus preventing the extra lorry movements which would be required if they were stored elsewhere."

'Local concerns were heard'

A Mid Suffolk District Council spokesperson added that the community liaison group could raise unresolved issues with traffic commissioners. 

East Anglian Daily Times: The site is accessed through multiple routes including The Walk.The site is accessed through multiple routes including The Walk. (Image: Google Maps)

The council spokesperson said: "The Highways Authority has acknowledged the difficulties around HGV access routes to this site, and the concerns of local people were heard and recognised by the planning committee.

"However, it was not within the remit of this application to rectify past issues, and any additional HGV movements associated with this application were not considered to be significant.

“The committee did, however, agree that a deliveries management plan must be created, which will manage all lorry deliveries to and from the site.

"A community liaison group will also be formed, allowing the community and the business owners to work together to discuss issues of concern and resolve them.”