FLYING FRUSTRATIONS: Deferred decision on Stafford helipad
Councillors have delayed their decision on a proposed hangar and helipad in the grounds of a Grade II Listed home near Stafford to allow further discussion with the applicant on limiting the number of take-offs and landings that can take place each day.
Currently the site at Aston Hall, near Doxey and Derrington, can be used for flights up to 28 days per year. But proposals to extend the number of active flying days each year have sparked concerns about noise and disturbance to other local residents and animals.
Stafford Borough Council received 24 objections to the application and three representations in support.
Ward councillor Mark Winnington called in the application for consideration by the planning committee “on the grounds of local concerns around the associated impact of helicopter movements on the locality in terms of noise, loss of privacy, and impact on local livestock”.
He told Wednesday’s planning committee meeting: “I have been contacted by local residents – some people don’t think it’s a bad thing but there are a lot of people who are concerned about the noise disruption.
“There is a livery yard just over the road from this helipad and I understand there is some concern from the users of the livery yard about the impact on the horses there. People have also spoken to me about the impact on the Millennium Green and the footpath that runs through there.
“It’s not normal to have a helicopter in the middle of the countryside but we have Seighford in terms of aviation – we had Wellington Bombers going over at one point. People who have lived in the area for a long time aren’t averse or unused to the noise.”
The application has been recommended for approval by borough council planning officers.
A management plan provided by the applicant and agreed by the council’s environmental health department proposed limiting the number of active flying days to 60 a year. Operations would only allowed during daylight hours between 8am and 9pm on weekdays and 9am and 8pm on weekends and bank holidays, with no flying on Christmas Day.
But on Wednesday planning committee members agreed to defer their decision for further discussion on conditions with the applicant after concerns were raised about the number of take-offs and landings that could take place on flying days. There have also been calls to exclude bank holidays from the permitted flying days.
Councillor Tony Pearce, who called for the deferral, said: “I represent residents in Doxey and many of them live near to where this helicopter will be taking off. I’m a little puzzled by the logic of what is being suggested.
“It can take off 28 days a year and this is being raised to 60 days – there is a huge difference. How are we going to make sure the conditions are kept?”
Councillor Marnie Phillips, who seconded the deferment proposal, said: “If it is going to be more than one flight a day it is going to have considerable impact, even if it is a few days a year.”
But Councillor Bryan Cross said: “I don’t think it will cause the problems we seem to be envisaging.”
Councillor Andrew Harp said: “Highways has no objection and the parish council does not object. I propose we approve it.”
Words: Kerry Ashdown, Local Democracy Reporter
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