How a German city frustrates a new car wash

The designated location of the car washDetlef Weber

An experienced self-service car wash operator plans to open a new location in Recklinghausen, Germany. But the city council has repeatedly rejected the plans, using new reasons every time. The applicant is getting increasingly desperate.

Detlef Weber already successfully operates self-service car washes in the densely populated Ruhr region in Germany. He is planning to open yet another new location in Recklinghausen. At a very smart spot, we might add. Where two busy roads meet and where the A2 freeway is nearby. It’s a mixed area with both residential and commercial development.

But the Recklinghausen city council does not seem to want a self-service car wash at this location. “At first, they said the facility I was planning would not fit into the cityscape. They wanted a new entrance gate for Recklinghausen,” sighs Weber. Thus, his self-service car wash with eight self-service washing stations was rejected by the building authority.

Willing to compromise

After the first disappointment, Detlef Weber adapted his plans and reduced his car wash to only seven self-service bays. He also restricted the opening hours and added extensive greening around the property, including a hedge, meadow areas and trees.
At first, he didn’t get any reaction at all from the city Council. After a reclamation, another refusal followed. Personal rounds of talks, including a long one with the mayor of Recklinghausen lead to nothing.

Copied from a court case

“What annoys me so much about this process are the reasons given for the rejection. These seem to be partly copied from court rulings and have nothing to do with this case. I get the impression that no real case-by-case examination has been made here,” Weber fulminates.

At present, his plans call for partial subletting to a vehicle reconditioner. In this version, only four self-service wash boxes would remain.

There is currently no end in sight to this dispute. But Weber has already made considerable costs for planning, architects, surveyors and noise protection reports.

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Author: Sandra Schäfer

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