RESIDENTS of Penton Mewsey village have been battling for more than 18 months to take action against a recycling company that they believe is causing safety hazards and environmental concerns.

They say that the recycling company is operating without the required planning permission on a former timber yard site, Penton Sawmills, in Newbury Hill.

The former timber mill ceased operations in November 2019 and since September 2022 SO Recycle has occupied the site.

READ MORE: Retrospective plans for old sawmill site criticised over 'disruptive' HGV journeys

However, in October 2022 planning enforcement officer Steve Payne warned the site’s owner that planning permission was needed for an office building that was being used by SO Recycling.

It was also noted that the only lawful use of the site was as a sawmill and a condition existed on the original permission precluding any other use – meaning that the two firms were in breach of this.

The businesses later lodged a retrospective application to change the use of the former timber yard to a general industrial/storage and distribution site.

According to Kevin Briant, the chairman of Penton Mewsey parish council, the company moved to the former timber yard site without planning permission, and its operation has caused safety concerns for the residents.

"Their constant traffic movements of 40tonne HGVs has and is causing serious concern over road traffic safety," Mr Briant said.

"Huge HGVs are driving through our parishes on narrow winding lanes, through our Conservation areas to the detriment of the resident’s wellbeing and damage to our roads and lanes."

Despite immediate notification to Test Valley Borough Council (TVBC) upon the company's arrival, no action has been taken to rectify the situation, according to the parish council.

A planning application submitted later was met with 117 objections. 

"Photographic evidence has constantly been forwarded to the TVBC planning department. The Parish Council has relentlessly requested updates and information to solve this issue. None is forthcoming," Mr Briant said.

He added that Hampshire Highways was not informed when the company moved into the site.

It has since raised its objection due to "significant concerns in regard to highway safety".

Residents are frustrated by the company's apparent disregard for planning regulations and environmental considerations.

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According to the parish council, the site is zoned for general industrial use (B2 planning), which does not encompass the recycling operation's activities.

Mr Briant said: "Penton Mewsey parish council now believes it is time for TVBC to make the right decision and object to this application."

A planning document, from the applicant, says: "The applicant and the local planning authority agreed that the most sensible way forward would be the submission of a new application across the entire site, effectively ‘wiping the slate’ clean of any historic restrictions.

"The site has operated as an industrial use for the past 50 years. This application has been submitted to ensure that the uses on the site can continue lawfully.

"The site generates a relatively modest number of trips per day (56 two-way trips), the majority of which are car trips associated with staff movements (45 two-way trips). Only 11 two-way trips per day are OGV2s

“The applicant is aware of the concerns of local residents who oppose larger vehicles routing through nearby villages. Whilst these concerns are acknowledged, these impacts are not ‘severe’ and do not make the application proposals unacceptable." 

TVBC and SO Recycle have been contacted for a comment.