A RECYCLING company that has been using a countryside site for more than 10 years has lost its bid to keep a storage area, office and workshop built without planning permission.

Lockhams Recycling Ltd, in Shedfield, has seen its retrospective application to convert the site from open countryside to an open storage area for recycled aggregate materials and to keep an ancillary office and workshop refused by Hampshire County Council.

The purpose of the plan was to provide more storage space for materials, allowing for more efficient processing of imported soils, crushed concrete, and other aggregates from the construction industry.

The Shedfield Equestrian Centre site has several buildings, hardstanding areas, access roads, and equestrian facilities.

The site is adjacent to and near various other establishments, including a vehicle repair and MOT test centre, a dog training facility, a marine sales company, and a ground-mounted solar farm.

The company has permission to recycle inert materials and builders’ waste on the land to the west of the application site, which is accessed jointly.

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In 2015, a successful appeal meant the firm could process 46,000m³ of imported materials annually, equivalent to 69,000 metric tonnes.

But despite planning permission not being granted to store this material, the area to be extended has already been hard-surfaced.

According to Lockhams Recycling Ltd, the site has been operational as an “unauthorised development storing processed recycled materials” and for an office and a workshop without any planning approvals since November 2020.

The site is open seven days a week from 7am until 6pm, with up to 48 lorry movements per day but a maximum of 100.

Winchester City Council objected to the application, saying it would contradict its policy for development in the countryside since the location impacts rural areas.

However, due to the proximity of the neighbouring site, the business said a countryside waste recycling centre is necessary.

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The city council said it did not consider the reason provided to be a “robust justification” for expanding the site into the countryside, and therefore, it did not meet its policy requirements.

During the Hampshire County Council regulatory committee meeting on January 24, Cllr Stephen Philpott asked officers when the company would need to stop operations on the site after agreeing with the recommendation for refusal.

He asked about the timeline for residents to see some action being taken but was told the company was expected to appeal the refusal.

Lockhams Recycling Ltd would have six months to do so and the council wouldn’t take action on closing the site until then.

The officer said that is because if the company won the appeal, the council would be liable to pay compensation for stopping it from operating.

Chairman Cllr Peter Latham, who also agreed to refuse the application, said that 10 years ago the site was covered with trees and the company had taken all of that away without planning permission.

Cllr Latham said: “It’s clear to me that it is not a sustainable development. It’s a respected retrospective application; therefore, we must look at the application not as it is now but as a green field site.

“It clearly does not comply with any of the exceptions which would entail being able to grant permission.

“The most significant picture for me was a picture taken in 2010 which showed this whole site which was covered with trees forestry, it was countryside, and that has all been taken away within the last 12 years without planning permission although the CLEUD was granted in 2014, but overall we have to look at this application on the basis of what it was then.”