Eyesore targeted by vandals in Gloucestershire market town could be used for housing and business units

An eyesore industrial site on the edge of a Gloucestershire town could be turned into a housing estate and modern commercial units under a new planning application which has taken years to come to fruition. Neighbouring family truck business Rothdean Limited has asked planners for permission to build on a large part of the former Engelhard site in Cinderford which has become a magnet for vandals over the decades. The "dilapidated" site is a few hundred metres outside the town centre and has a long history of industrial use ranging from coal mining to metal recycling.

And Hook Mason Consulting, the company which prepared the report, admits much work needs to be done to clear the brownfield site before the proposed 49 homes and 8,000 square feet of commercial business units can be built. "The site comprises brownfield land, occupied by vacant former commercial factory premises currently in dilapidated condition, together with associated hard standings and other infrastructure," says the report. "The former factory premises have been vacant for some considerable time and the condition of the building fabric has deteriorated markedly during this period through both lack of periodic maintenance and vandalism.

"Antisocial activity within the vacant buildings has been regularly reported together with incidents of crime, which have been reported to the police." There have been various plans to redevelop the site dating back to 2006 but the consultants believe the Forest of Dean District Council should give permission this time because planners have already given the green light to a GBP5 million medical centre next door. It says 20 of the homes, most of which will be two and three bedroom, will be affordable and the council has legal duty to make sure more houses are built to reach government targets.

There are six coal seams underneath the area and three abandoned mine-shafts, but experts say these shouldn't cause to many problems because the workings are very deep and they can take action to address any issues with stability that arise during the building process.

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As well as mine-workings, there is the potential for toxic waste and radon gas underneath the site but early expert reports included in the outline planning application suggest a large majority of the site is effectively uncontaminated and there are solutions available if any such problems arise. The 2015 preliminary ground assessment report by Wilson Associates does not rule out buried building foundations and other waste products says targeted remedial action may be necessary before work starts. The consultants have also submitted an expert highways report which claims the residents living in the new housing can access the estate on the other side via Valley Road B4227 without any issues.

The commercial units will be accessed from Valley Road via an existing priority junction arrangement on Hollywood Works.

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"The transport assessment concludes that the proposed development will not result in any adverse material impact on the adjacent highways network and it is considered that there are no highways or transport reasons that would justify refusal of planning permission," claim the consultants. Another report claims there are no wildlife issues because the site does not have any protected species but consultants admit the housing will have to be more dense than usually recommended to take account of a barrier needed on three sides to screen the homes from the commercial section.

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The planning application by transport company Rothdene concludes: "This application proposal represents wholly sustainable re use of previously developed land within the Cinderford settlement boundary, which will facilitate demolition of derelict, vacant unsightly buildings within the site, together with the associated antisocial behaviour reported during a sustained period. "The application is robust in its consideration of the economic, social and environmental impact that would be generated.

The scheme is technically deliverable; and there are no adverse impacts which outweigh the significant benefits of the proposed development.

"This site and proposed development relate well to the built form of the settlement and is available now to deliver homes and employment space to meet the needs of the area, which will in turn, help to mitigate Forest of Dean District Council's current under performance of housing delivery."

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