Darlaston Inn EG

It is possible that EG Group’s plans to build a petrol filling station on a busy roundabout on the A34 in Staffordshire might be thwarted again.

EG Group (Euro Garages’ parent company) and pub chain Greene King previously applied to build a petrol station and KFC branch on the roundabout but were turned down by the borough council in 2019 because of road safety fears. An appeal against the decision was dismissed by a planning inspector in 2020.

The two companies latest plans include demolition of the Darlaston Inn, just north of Stone, and redevelopment of the site to include a petrol station, convenience store, eight EV charging bays, a car wash, four jet wash bays, a vac/air bay, customer parking spaces and a picnic area.

Planning officers at Stafford County Council have recommended that the plans be refused. In their statement they said: “The proposal is considered to result in a detrimental impact upon highway safety due to a lack of safe pedestrian and cycling crossing. The development would result in the redevelopment of this vacant site and provides benefits to the local economy through the construction and operation of the site. However, the benefits are not considered to outweigh the highway safety harm and the conflict with the Development Plan and NPPF in this regard. This is consistent with the conclusions of the Inspector for the previous application. The proposal has not overcome the previously highlighted concerns with regards to pedestrian and cycling safety. The application is therefore recommended for refusal.”

However, the application has been called in for review by Councillor James Nixon, who said: “The Darlaston Inn site has fallen into a poor state of disrepair and has seen a significant increase in anti-social behaviour and congregation of vandals. This site is not going to return to nature and needs to be brought into use to reflect the local demands.

“I see no reason why the highways would challenge this site as it was historically a well-attended pub once upon a time and with the roundabout in good condition and calming measures in place I would dispute that.

“In addition to this we must take into consideration the development of Meaford Business Park which will see in excess of 1,000 employers on-site at any one time, this will see an increase in car use and to avoid cars driving into and through Stone to access the existing petrol stations I feel this will help with long-term congestion levels and traffic increases. The installation of new charging points is eco-friendly and necessary due to a lack of charging points within a reasonable vicinity.

“If the application were to proceed I would want to see signage and lighting be minimalistic to avoid disruption and a negative knock on effect to neighbouring properties and residents. I would also look to see opening hours to be reflective of others such as Marks and Spencer’s who do not operate 24 hours.”

The Council is due to review the application later this week.