PLANS for a petrol station and drive-through units along with a warehouse near the first Severn Bridge that could create more than 200 jobs have been approved.
But members of Monmouthshire County Council’s planning committee raised concerns over road safety. They feared for pedestrians crossing to the site, which will be developed on land next to the Newhouse Farm Industrial estate, at Junction Two of the M48 in Chepstow, and the impact of traffic entering the fast food drive-through and coffee shop and service station.
Planning officer Amy Longford said the road side services are expected to create 75 jobs while the application also includes outline permission for a warehouse or logistics/distribution centre that could employ 200. Applicants EG Group (Euro Garges) works with brands including KFC, Subway and Starbucks, though a planning report stated it will operate the filling station and drive-through units.
The committee was told the council’s highways department and the Welsh Government, that is responsible for trunk roads, had originally objected to the application due to road safety concerns and traffic plans were then independently assessed and objections withdrawn as a result.
It had also been agreed that signs will direct pedestrians to the restaurant, including through an existing underpass, due to fears they would cross the roundabout. Ms Longford said the pedestrian path couldn’t follow the most direct route as the cost of creating a ramp up the existing steep banking would make the scheme unaffordable but the roundabout and its crash barriers are intended to be a “deterrent”.
Planning committee member Sue Rilley, who represents the Bulwark and Thornwell ward which is on the opposite side of the roundabout, said: “I’m concerned about the safety of the roundabout. It will attract school children and they will, and do take, the shortest, most direct route.
“It will be dangerous and I don’t want an ‘I told you so’ situation. I would like to see more consideration of a direct route from Bulwark to the take away.”
The Labour councillor also said residents are already concerned about litter and asked if extra bins could be provided in the area but said she would also “like to say a few things in favour and the petrol station would take the pressure off the High Beech roundabout which I think everyone, perhaps except for the people who have the garage, thinks would be good.”
Chepstow Labour councillor Dale Rooke added: “I have similar concerns about people using the roundabout rather than the tunnel. I’m in favour of the application for the employment opportunities but that doesn’t detract from the concerns I have.”
Dominic Power, of Chepstow Town Council, also spoke at the planning committee and said while it “appreciated” the employment opportunities it was objecting due to its “overriding” road safety concerns.
He questioned whether the underpass and footpath would be used and said pedestrians already walk across the roundabout.
A dropped kerb crossing point, over the estate access road, will be provided as part of the suggested pedestrian route though Ms Longford accepted anyone walking it would have “double back on themselves” to cross at the suggested point and she clarified it wouldn’t be traffic light controlled. There is already an existing crossing point, at the southern end of the road, where it crosses the Wales Coastal Path.
Mathew Gray, agent for the EG group, reminded the committee the plans have been “deemed acceptable” by the Welsh Government and there would be “significant job creation” and he said the intention is to primarily serve passing motorists.
Dewstow Labour councillor Tony Eason suggested there should be a “filter lane” created on the access road from the roundabout rather than the proposal that all of the new uses would be served from one new access from the spine road. He was reminded the traffic plans had been independently assessed and accepted.
The site will have 75 parking bays and a condition was added that the 10 electric vehicle charging points to be provided are installed prior to the buildings being occupied.
The committee granted planning permission with 10 members voting in favour and one against with one abstention.