No tanks! Protest at woodyard takeover

Councillor Ken Ball outside the former E & H Baxendale Ltd  premises on Spendmore Lane in Coppull. Residents and councillors are complaining about new business restoring industrial tanks at the former woodyard
Councillor Ken Ball outside the former E & H Baxendale Ltd premises on Spendmore Lane in Coppull. Residents and councillors are complaining about new business restoring industrial tanks at the former woodyard

Anger has erupted after a long-established village woodyard was acquired by an industrial tanks refurbishing firm.

Residents in Coppull are furious over the change of use of E&H Baxendale’s on Spendmore Lane.

They fear the prominent main road site close to homes will become an eyesore.

And they say they cannot understand why they were not consulted or kept informed about planning issues and what was happening.

Residents have organised a petition and sought the support of Chorley MP Lindsay Hoyle.

For years, the woodyard was operated by Baxendale’s, who manufactured roof trusses, but it has been acquired by an industrial tanks firm which operates from Coppull Mill.

A new 9ft spiked iron fence has been erected.

In a letter to the MP, objector Don Marsland said: “If the move to the new premises is successful it will be in the centre of residential housing in full view of the road through Coppull.

“The outlook has now become more akin to a high security prison than a predominantly residential area.

“The land has a watercourse running through it, and these tanks may have contained chemicals of some description.

“Following previous petitions to Chorley Council and for various safety issues, pollution and traffic problems restrictions were placed on the activities of the previous owners of the site one of which was that no work was to be undertaken outside the buildings on the site.”

The Guardian tried several times to contact the site’s owners, but no-one was available.

Resident Lesley Hampson, 45, a mother-of-three, of Grange Drive, Coppull, said: “We didn’t know this was happening. All these tanks are starting to come onto the land and we thought, what’s this?

“We were used to the woodyard, we are used to being next door to an industrial site, but it was only wood. It never caused us problems.”

Ward councillor Ken Ball said: “I’m all for the yard being used, but I definitely think that that usage isn’t for that site. It should be on an industrial estate or where it was before.

“It’s certainly not the sort of usage we want there, especially with an eight foot fence. It looks like a prison at the front.”

He said he had met objecting residents, whom, he added, blamed Coppull Parish Council over planning issues.

“I said it’s got nothing to do with the parish council,” said Coun Ball. “It wasn’t a planning application.”

Another ward councillor Matthew Crow said: “We met with officers from Chorley Council and the new owners of the Spendmore Lane site on March 20 in response to concerns that had been raised with us on the doorstep in Coppull.

“At the time they appeared to be keen to work constructively with the council and we made clear the importance of maintaining a good relationship with those residents living around the site.

“We were given estimates of site traffic movement of around one HGV per month and were assured that no dangerous chemicals would be used or stored on site.

“I am under the impression that some elements of the site’s development may require planning permission and local residents would be invited to contribute to this process as is standard, the council is waiting to hear from the developers as to their full intentions on site.

“We will continue to monitor the situation and work with local residents and the new site owners who have been willing to discuss the future of the site with us to date and we will continue to encourage the new owner to engage with residents.”

Coun Alistair Bradley, leader of Chorley Council, said: “This site has been used for general industrial work for many years and whilst the owner and appearance of the site has changed, it is important for the council to understand how the site will operate in order to decide if a change of use has in fact occurred.

“Some activities, particularly those that may cause disruption to residents, will potentially require permission from the council. The council will take action if and when necessary.”

MP Mr Hoyle said: “Having been contacted by a local resident expressing concerns about the site, we have to make sure whatever it is used for is in keeping with the area and residents’ rights are taken into account when any proposals are put if any planning application is submitted.

“It is important it isn’t a blot on the landscape and that people’s views are listened to.”

The Chorley Guardian visited the firm’s site at Coppull Mill. Despite conversations with a man who said he would pass on our messages to the firm, no-one had called at the time of going to press.