A LEADING Moorlands employer has been given approval to build a 980 square feet facilities building at its site.
Staffordshire Moorlands District Council planning applications committee gave the go ahead for the construction of the building for John Pointon and Sons of Felthouse Lane, Cheddleton, despite planning officers recommending the application should be refused.
A report by planning officer Rachel Simpkin said the building was intended to replace some of the temporary Portacabins on the site.
The application proposed the erection of a two storey building.The ground floor would accommodate a reception, transport and general offices at the front along with staff canteen and toilets at the rear.
The first floor would principally house the staff changing rooms, lockers, showers and laundry areas.
In recommending refusal Miss Simpkin said: "The local planning authority does not consider the case put forward by the applicant to constitute very special circumstances to outweigh the harm by inappropriateness and other harm to the Green Belt."
However the report did state that between 2004 and 2011 the number of staff on the site had increased from 98 to 180 with no corresponding increase in staff accommodation or facilities.
Planning application manager Mike Green said the application was deferred by the committee in January and it was now intended to move it forward.
He said: "This application is for a free standing buiding to be used for showers, laundry and canteen. Permission for six Portacabins on the site has expired. This is in Green Belt. No offer has been made to remove the Portacabins."
Cheddleton councillor Mike Bowen asked why no face to face meetings had taken place between planning officers and the company following the deferment in January.
He said: "We made Sailability take down their building.
"Why have the Portacabins not be taken down if illegal since 2006? These supply the needs for the factory as showers are required as the workforce has doubled. I propose we accept it."
Another Cheddleton councillor Mike Worthington said jobs were important to the community. He said: "Pointon's are a big employer. People are queuing up for showers. Pointon's have kept their word and have opened up a sports centre.
"We have foodbanks in Leek, so we need jobs. This building will also mean that eight to 12 Portacabins will go."
The applicants agent, Graham Bolton said that the officers report lacked understanding.
He said: "The number of operatives has doubled. The building is justified as it is for a laundry and showers which are needed and include those for female and disabled people.
"There has been a lot of untruths and also planning officers have refused to meet us."
The committee voted by 10 votes to two to approve the erection of the building on condition that all 12 Portacabins were removed from the site.