COUNCIL bosses have been handed a major boost after proposals to build the district’s first solar-powered electric garage forecourt received backing from planning experts.

Councillors are set to rule on Gridserve’s application to install 24 electric car charging points on the same site in Great Notley where the new Horizon 120 business park will be built.

The forecourt would be set out like a traditional garage and much of the power would be generated through solar panels attached to the roof.

Gridserve plans to create dedicated zones for private and fleet vehicles, such as taxis, buses, vans and lorries, and will offer sub 30-minute charging times.

Plans are also in place to install a coffee shop, convenience store and airport-style lounge within the forecourt.

The application has received a single objection from a resident in Great Notley Avenue who has raised concerns about a large-scale development being approved in a rural setting.

But Braintree Council planning development manager Christopher Paggi says the public benefits offered by the proposals outweigh concerns about the impact they could have on the countryside setting.

In his report which will be discussed by the council’s planning committee, he states: “The scheme will bring a significant and tangible public benefit to the district and represents a cutting-edge proposal with very significant benefits in terms of making a real difference to the viability of owning an electric vehicle in this area.

“The identified harm caused by the proposal is limited, with a degree of landscape, ecology and highway impact, although none are considered to be severe and mitigation measures have been identified.”

The application will be decided during a meeting on Tuesday evening at Causeway House, Bocking End, which gets under way from 7.15pm.