Aldborough Hatch gravel pit battle goes on as local forum hears secretary of state will now review controversial application

Council Leader Cllr Jas Athwal, Conservative group leader Cllr Paul Canal, Redbridge Council chief e

Council Leader Cllr Jas Athwal, Conservative group leader Cllr Paul Canal, Redbridge Council chief executive Andy Donald and Cllr Mushtaq Ahmed attended the Aldborough local forum meeting last night. Photo: Matt Clemenson - Credit: Archant

A controversial plan to expand gravel works in Aldborough Hatch will now go before the secretary of state, residents were informed at Redbridge Council’s local forum last night.

At the two hour meeting at William Torbitt Primary School, more than an hour was devoted to the extension of gravel works in Aldborough Hatch Farm approved by Redbridge Council for a further nine years last month.

Ron Jeffries, 84, chairman of the Aldborough Hatch Defence Association, told the meeting the enhanced gravel extraction was the biggest issue to hit Aldborough Hatch in his lifetime.

After raising a number of issues, including health risks caused by more dust and the potentially disastrous affect on the nearby St Peter’s Church, he said: “If you are serious in wanting to tackle issues that are important to us, you please go back to the town hall and insist that this planning application is rejected.

“Or are you happy to stand by whilst the community here is exposed to deathly risks from cancer?”

A number of other residents warned council leader Councillor Jas Athwal that they felt the council was unable or unwilling to properly monitor building activity at the site.

Rev Kate Lovesey, who was not allowed to speak against the expansion application in front of Redbridge Council’s planning committee on June 29, said she had “no faith in the council to hold the contractor’s leash” and protect her 155-year-old church.

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Redbridge Council chief executive Andy Donald revealed that, as the planning application had already been approved there was no way the decision could be reversed, and that a full judicial review would have to go ahead.

But Cllr Athwal insisted the secretary of state would be in the best possible position to make the final decision, as unlike the council’s planning committee he would not have to look solely at whether or not the application abided by national planning frameworks.

He said: “The news that councillor and MP Wes Streeting has forwarded it onto the secretary of state I think should be good news for everyone in this room who is objecting to this decision.

“I’ll be happier for the simple reason that the health implications and all other aspects of the application will get a fair hearing, one way or the other.”

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