Leading South Glos firm gets the go-ahead for major expansion despite concerns

A leading South Gloucestershire engineering firm, which operates 24/7, has won planning permission for a major expansion, despite many objections from people living close by.

At a meeting on Thursday, South Gloucestershire Council’s development management committee unanimously backed McBraida’s planning application for a new statement building at its Bridgeyate headquarters.

On balance, it was felt that the harms caused by the development are outweighed by the economic benefits as the firm is a major contributor to the success of the region’s aerospace industry.

The development includes widening an existing exit route to the north of the site onto the A4175 Bath Road for HGVs, which involves the loss of common land. Two houses on Bath Road – numbers 30 and 32 – will also be demolished.

McBraida is a fourth-generation family business supplying precision machined parts and has been based at the site since 1959. Driven by overseas sales success and the lack of space, the business opened a second production base next to Rzeszow International Airport in Poland 10 years ago. The purpose-built modern production site in Poland is said to be a stark contrast to the “cramped and dated” Bridgeyate facility.

How McBraida’s new building will look   (Credit gcp Chartered Architects)

Nearby residents told of the negative impact the development would have on their lives, the noise they already have to put up with, their fears over road and pedestrian safety, concerns about the loss of ancient common land, and the impact on local ecology.

Siston Parish Council echoed residents’ concerns and South Gloucestershire ward councillor Sam Bromiley said that while not against the principle of an expansion, he felt the proposals go beyond what should be reasonable for a site in this location. He said: “The new design of the building will be considerably different to its current form, and vastly different from anything else in the local community. It is out of character and would dwarf neighbouring properties and businesses.”

He highlighted concerns about the impact on the environment and the adverse effect on residents from noise. He also voiced concerns about the proposed exit

A spokesperson for the residents told the meeting that in 1991 a planning application for a north access had been refused on the grounds that the junction would be substandard and dangerous. But a council planning officer explained that since then, guidance has changed.

The report to the committee said that work will be phased – McBraida’s current access onto Francis Way will be used during phase one but once phase 2 is complete, operational goods vehicles will enter in the same manner but leave by the new exit onto Bath Road. These manoeuvres will require the large vehicles to cross the centre line of Bath Road but it is predicted that a large articulated HGV would only exit the site three times a day which is not considered would adversely impact the flow or safety of traffic.

The plans had the backing of the council’s economic development team. There were no objections from the council’s commons officer over the loss of land which amounts to 0.1% (just over 64sq m) of Bridgeyate Common.

The access will be opened up and widened using common land and the two houses behind the trees will be demolished

Environmental health officers were satisfied with the noise report from the applicant. The scheme includes landscaping and ecological enhancements.

Adam McBraida told the meeting that the company was proud to be part of the Bristol aerospace industry. He said the expansion is necessary for the company to stay relevant and resilient in light of international competition, and it nurtures local highly skilled jobs and takes on between four and six apprentices every year.

He said McBraida is “very conscious” of its presence in a residential area and had responded positively to allay concerns.