Countryliner depot closes ahead of imposed deadlineBy Amy Taylor
January 28, 2013
A BUS company which was asked to vacate its Aldershot depot due to noise complaints from residents has closed weeks ahead of the council-imposed deadline.
The Countryliner depot at the Gresham Industrial Estate was issued with an enforcement notice last July by Rushmoor Borough Council.
It was given a deadline of February 5 to move off the premises, after which any use by the company would have become a prosecutable offence.
Roger Belcher, group director of Countryliner, confirmed this week that the Eastern Road depot had been vacated.
He said: “The company moved out of the site at the start of this month and will not be returning.”
Anger surrounded the bus depot’s opening, as it was done without planning permission and created disturbance for residents living nearby.
Neighbours complained that buses were going past their houses as early as 6am.
The company only submitted a planning application to Rushmoor after opening the depot last April in Unit 4 of the industrial estate.
By that stage Countryliner was already ferrying 18 buses around Eastern Road every day. The bus operator was accused of showing ‘complete disregard’ for planning rules by ward councillors including Keith Dibble.
Mr Dibble said he was concerned that the company’s website still listed Eastern Road as its contact address.
Following Mr Belcher’s confirmation that the depot had closed, Cllr Dibble said it was good news for neighbours, but long overdue.
“Countryliner showed complete arrogance to local people when they opened their depot prior to receiving planning permission, and they should have vacated the site immediately after their application was rejected,” said Cllr Dibble.
Planning permission was denied at the same time enforcement proceedings began, and a report to Rushmoor planning officers at the time said: “The bus depot use gives rise to unacceptable noise and disturbance in the early morning within night-time hours to the detriment of the residential amenities of occupiers.”
David Stevens, principal planning officer at Rushmoor, said he had been given no formal notice by Countryliner that they had moved out.
Mr Stevens added that it would not be unusual for a company to leave “without saying a word”.
“We have had reports that suggest it might not be entirely true, and with the deadline coming up we would certainly want to check,” said Mr Stevens.
“If it is indeed true, I am very pleased to hear it.”
Don Cappleman, a ward councillor for Aldershot Park, was unable to take part in last year’s council discussions on the bus depot because his son lived near the site.
“I had to stay out of it in case they thought I was being vindictive,” he said. “I have heard from residents that they haven’t seen any buses at the depot since January 2. I am very pleased, as it was very annoying. Buses were there in the early mornings, and drivers would park their cars in the area and would rev their engines loudly. I’m pleased that it will no longer be a problem.”
Mr Belcher declined to comment further on the depot’s closure, but said at the time that permission was refused that he did not believe buses were as noisy as the lorries which regularly used the industrial estate.
He said he was saddened by the decision, saying at the time: “We help to remove traffic from the roads by people travelling by buses instead.”