The firm behind a depot that has been operating on a site off a narrow country lane without consent has been given approval to continue - despite objections from three parish councils.

After hearing a range of concerns such as road safety and noise raised on behalf of residents of Dalton on Tees, North Cowton and East Cowton - three North Yorkshire villages between Darlington and Northallerton - the final meeting of Hambleton District Council’s planning committee approved Greenford Haulage Aggregates retrospective proposal off a C-road at Dalton Gates.

An agent for Greenford Haulage Aggregate said the proposal would see 30 vehicle movements a day to and from the site.

He added there were several other operators using the lane and the proposed access with no reported incidents or even near-misses, demonstrating the lane was wide enough for HGVs.

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He told the committee if a move to restrict the site’s operational hours to 7am was agreed the future of the business, which employs 20 people, would be put in jeopardy.

The meeting heard as the site had previously been used as a potato store the aggregate bagging operation was considered acceptable by planning officers.

However, residents and a parish councils representative told the meeting the site had only seen “a potato wagon a week turn up”, so the proposal represented a stark contrast to the type of activity at the site and would lead to many HGVs passing people’s homes at unsocial hours.

One resident said: “The noise of these vehicles can be heard as soon as they leave the site. This is a noise pollution issue we can hear coming a mile away. The local opinion is that the current volume of HGV activity in this area is unacceptable and we are adding to it.”

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Another resident described the lane as one of the most unsuitable C-roads in the area to take HGVs due to the number of 90-degree bends in close proximity and the lack of a footpath, leaving people with nowhere to go when two HGVs were passing.

Nevertheless, some members argued it was unfair to impose restricted hours on “an existing business”, before the committee’s chairman, Councillor Peter Barden emphasised the business did not have any permission to operate from the site.

Councillor John Noone said the county council’s highways department were not prepared to do anything to improve safety on the lane, adding “as they usually do there’s no objections and no observations no matter how serious it is”.

He said: “It is very hard for us as a committee to go against what they are saying because it could go to appeal straight away.”

Councillor David Webster called for the permission to be limited to two years to give the operator a chance to find an alternative site.

He said: “To my mind the right site would be where the aggregate is produced.”

Ahead of members approving the change of use of the site and limiting operational hours to a 6am start, Councillor Kevin Hardisty disputed residents’ claims over previous uses of the site.

He said: “I’ve known this site for many years. It is an industrial site. There’s no question about that and Hambleton is a business-friendly local authority.”