Council tells Emsworth coach firm to find new premises

Peter Axworthy at the OffBeet cafe

High demand could mean expansion for cafe owner

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THE director of a coach company says he may be forced to close his business after a council told him to move.

Paul Donald, of Victory Travel, opened new premises at Seagull Lane, Emsworth, in April without planning permission.

The industrial estate it is on was previously used as a builders yard and Havant Borough Council ruled at a planning hearing that permission was needed to change the use of the site.

Councillors decided that even if an application had been made permission would not be given because the coaches back out on to narrow and busy North Street.

Mr Donald has six months to find new premises or face court action. A list of other sites available in the area has been sent to him but Mr Donald says he has not received any communication from the council.

He claims cranes used on the site previously were more than 50 tons – much bigger than his vehicles.

Mr Donald blames the noise and disruption on other businesses in the industrial estate.

He added: ‘It seems like we are getting all the blame. If we need to go then I am sure these two other companies that cause far more disruption than us should be looked at.

‘We are contained within the premises. Plus I personally tidy up the whole area, which we keep clean.

‘We will appeal against the council ruling but will also look for alternative premises – which are not easy to find as modern industrial sites are not suitable as they never allow enough parking spaces for all the works cars in these areas.

‘The government wants passenger-carrying vehicles to reduce pollution and congestion, but the council want to close you down, which could be the end case if suitable premises are not sourced.’

Councillor Elaine Shimbart, chairman of the planning committee, said: ‘Coaches are going through a narrow road on to North Street, in Emsworth, coming and going all hours of the day and evening. It’s not suitable.’

Emsworth councillor Brendan Gibb-Gray said he had received a number of complaints. ‘They are 49-seater coaches.

‘They are big buses to come out of what is an industrial site.

‘The residents have lived in harmony with the industrial site for years but this was the wrong use of the site.’