Smart Planning have acted for a well established company producing extruded and thermoformed plant trays. Our clients at Desch Plantpak Ltd in Mundon is one of the largest manufacturers of products made from recycled plastic in the Maldon District. It was established in Mundon in 1968, but in approximately 2008, the injection moulding was first transferred from Congleton (the original site from 1964) and subsequently in 2016, Congleton was closed.

Since 2014, Desch Plantpak Ltd have invested £5m in Mundon, making it a state-of-the-art factory. They continue to invest in technology with delivery this Autumn of a new Thermoformer and the planned installation of new recycled materials processing equipment in early 2021. The factory is the company’s UK and Ireland Headquarters, employing fifty people at Mundon (many of the employees are women) and providing products to the UK, Republic of Ireland, Scandinavia, North America and to their group companies in the Netherlands, operating a twenty-four hour shift system. As such there was deep and ongoing concern expressed by staff and management alike over the safety and security of the site.

The site is not secure and due to its proximity to the highway cannot be enclosed by any means without the need for planning permission. Planning permission was sought for palisade fencing including replacement of two vehicular access gates via Smart Planning, which was refused due to the height, design and materials of the scheme being considered to have an urbanising effect to the detriment of the character and appearance of the area. Following refusal, Smart Planning liaised with the Planning Officer directly, to ascertain what the Council would find acceptable. After some research, Smart Planning presented the Planning Officer with the softer appearance of welded mesh fencing, a design used to secure school sites in residential areas in a reasonable amendable way. The Officer agreed in principle to the proposed mesh fencing along with a reduced fence height and planting scheme.

It was on this basis that a revised planning application was prepared and submitted. However, as bad luck would have it, the Team Leader who previously endorsed the proposal was on annual leave and not present to sign-off the draft report. Consequently, the report was referred up to the (previously uninvolved) Chief Planning Officer who reversed the recommendation without regard to the positive and proactive process that had taken place prior.

Smart Planning met with Desch Plantpak’s Management Team to discuss the refusal and forward strategy for an appeal. An appeal was lodged in the hope that the Inspector could reflect upon the whole context of the appeal proposal and correct the LPA’s aberration, by granting planning permission with or without additional landscaping.

The appeal was subsequently allowed and planning permission granted for the erection of the fencing including the replacement of two existing vehicular gates, subject to conditions. The Inspector stated within their decision that:

“this established industrial site is highly conspicuous and does not enhance the character and local context or make a positive contribution to its countryside setting. I have concluded that the proposed fencing could bring about a considerable improvement in the outward appearance of the undertaking, to the benefit of the character and appearance of the site and the rural area, as well as providing the desired increased level of security.” 

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