Divine Cafe Reasons for Response

Following a number of comments the following is an explanation why the Parish Council have not objected to the principal of a car wash on the A4 Divine Café site.

The first thing to say is that planners will only reject an application if it would breach planning law or policies, either national or local. There is no point objecting to an application unless it can be demonstrated that this would be the case. Sometimes there may be factors that the planners are not aware of that we can put to them that will help them come to the right decision. Unfortunately, not liking an application even if that is the view of many people, or believing it would impact on the value of your home for example are not things that are protected by planning law and are not grounds for objection. By understanding this and doing our best to focus on breaches of planning law our comments are given more weight and you will see this from the Case Officer’s report on the original Divine Café site application where the Parish Council’s response was included in full but those from members of the public summarised.

Considering the original application for an MOT testing station, workshop and car sales operation the application was refused by Wiltshire Planning on two grounds :-

  • That the additional building works and car sales operation would harm the landscape of the AONB in contravention of local planning policies;
  • The lack of information provided regarding the traffic impact of vehicles entering and leaving the site again contravening local planning policies.

At appeal the Inspector accepted the first but rejected the second, i.e. agreed that the additional building works would cause harm but did not agree that the traffic impacts contravened planning policies. None of the other comments by either the Parish Council or members of the public were considered grounds for refusal.

In both cases the principal of a retail sales operation on the site involving cars was not questioned. That principle was established many years ago when the original fuel station was built and operated and was further established by the Divine Café’s retail business use of the site.

This latest application requires no changes or additions to the existing buildings and there is no proposal to operate a car sales operation. The appeal inspector has already ruled that the potential for additional traffic, for what would have been a much busier business, does not contravene planning policies. Therefore the Parish Council cannot see a reason in principle for objecting. As previously said we may not like having a car wash there but that is not a valid reason to object.

Some may take the view that this application is the thin end of the wedge and that further activities will be introduced over time. This may be so but we can only comment on the application in front of us and we will all have to be vigilant about ensuring this does not happen.

We have looked at the comments already submitted to the planning portal and from what we can see no new, valid grounds for objection have been suggested other than the waste treatment from a car wash. We do believe the plans put forward fail to provide adequate capture and treatment of waste from a carwash and have said so in our response. This is not necessarily grounds for objection but we would certainly hope that, if minded to accept the application, the Planning officer would apply conditions to ensure that adequate treatment is installed.