Tring residents ‘fear for safety of schoolchildren’

Residents say the lanes in Wigginton are too narrow
Residents say the lanes in Wigginton are too narrow

A planning consent given without consultation with Dacorum councillors could have dire consequences, claim Tring residents.

Despite strong public protest, council officers approved the application to turn an agricultural barn at Wigginton’s Wick Farm into a storage and distribution depot last December.

Using new planning laws, they issued a General Permitted Development Order (GPDO) to avoid the matter going to committee.

Today the time-saving scheme has backfired – and is even putting lives in danger, say residents.

“HGV lorries and vans from the distribution centre are thundering along narrow rural lanes, straight past a primary school and a play area that has hidden exits,” said worried parent David Lazaro.

“It is an accident waiting to happen and we really fear for the safety of small children at St Bartholomew’s school,” he added.

Dacorum Lib Dem councillor Roxanne Ransley, who also sits on Tring Town Council, has echoed the concerns.

“We were always worried about this application due to the potential traffic dangers. But because it was approved under the new GPDO legislation, it never got to be democratically discussed by councillors,” she said.

At the time Tring Town Council issued a strong objection.

It stated: “Wick Road is unsuitable for lorries being very narrow and the junction with the Chesham Road is problematic. The council recommend a condition that vehicles access Wick Road from Kiln Lane turning left then follow a route alongCholesbury Road to Chesham Road.”

This week Hemel mayor David Collins, who was chairman of the development control committee at the time, admitted he had no recollection of the Wick Farm application.

Mr Lazaro, who has the support of MP David Gaulke, believes it could have been refused had councillors had the chance to consider it.

He said: “The ‘GPDO’ legislation requires very little local consultation. In fact the council only made seven consultations. Extraordinarily though, it resulted in 48 objections and included four professional bodies.”

Earlier this year Mr Lazaro leafleted the village and discovered 282 people responded with “vociferous opposition” to the increased traffic from the development.

A spokesman for Dacorum Borough Council declined to discuss the GPDO proceedure. She said: “I’ve spoken to our planning team and Traffic Regulation Orders would be a matter for Herts County Council.”