Mechanics who face being thrown out of their Watford site to make way for the Watford General Hospital development have been told they can relocate to an agricultural barn in Aldenham Green Belt land, despite objections from residents.
The contentious planning application to convert The Mill, in Blackbirds Farm, Blackbirds Lane, into a vehicle repair shop was approved by Hertsmere Borough Council last Thursday.
Commercial Motors, a tenant of Cardiff Road Industrial Estate, located behind Watford General Hospital, is facing eviction as Watford Borough Council makes way for a new development.
Chris Cooper, who runs the business with his brother, Robert, spoke at the planning meeting, emphasising that the pair are the second generation to run the company, which has been a tenant at its current Watford site for more than 45 years.
Mr Cooper said: "We are not a new start up company. We’ve got an established clientele that rely on us for good service. The reasons for our move are clear - we have to move away from our existing site."
He said they have searched all the nearby industrial areas to no avail and that this site would be "ideal", emphasising that they do not intend to expand the business.
He added: "At this stage Watford Council has been patient with us but that can’t continue. They need us out to redevelop.
"It has come to the stage now where I need your nod of approval so we can stay in business and secure the jobs of my employees and ourselves. I just want to tell my staff tomorrow that their jobs are safe and we think this is a really good site for us."
The development will cover a 29 hectare site and is a joint partnership between West Hertfordshire Hospitals Trust, Watford Borough Council and Watford Football Club, looks to expand hospital facilities and build about 750 new homes and retail space.
Aldenham Parish Council and The Radlett Society and Green Belt Association both objected to the application.
Nonetheless, council officers recommended politicians approve the proposals "in light of the very special circumstances provided".
Marc Becker lives near to the site and raised concerns about the heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) that will be using the country roads around the area, should the application be approved.
Mr Becker said the safety of children and parents will be "jeopardised" and the neighbourhood "ruined" if plans were approved.
He said: "Green Belt development can only be authorised under very special circumstances. The claim here is that, due to the Watford Council health campus, one business cannot find a home and we are of course sympathetic to that, this is not a personal objection of course."
He added: "It is simply not for the residents of Hertsmere Green Belt to find a home for one business in Watford, nor has the applicant shown that no other location could be found."
Despite lengthy discussions about the affect the HGVs would have on the surrounding areas, with safety being of particular concern to residents, politicians approved the application, subject to conditions.