West Berkshire Council

Start date: 2018-08-16
End date: 2018-09-13
Results: 2018-12-06

Draft Greenham Business Park Local Development Order (LDO)

We'd like your views on our revised draft document


This consultation is closed.


Why are we consulting again? 

From 13 April to 14 May 2018, we consulted with you on the original draft of the Greenham Business Park Local Development Order (LDO). In response to the feedback received, we've made a number of changes; the main revisions are:

  • removal of hotel accommodation as a proposed use
  • reduction of the time period of LDO from 25 to 15 years (there is the potential for 5 yearly reviews)
  • the addition of more standard conditions in order to protect local amenity
  • changes in definitions leading to a more consistent policy base for the LDO
  • changes in building heights in order to reduce any potential visual impact further  

We've decided that it is appropriate to re consult, before taking the final LDO to Full Council for adoption.  


What is an LDO?

A Local Development Order (LDO) provides a streamlined planning process that Local Planning Authorities (LPAs) can adopt to boost development in their areas. The National Planning Policy Framework  encourages LPAs to use LDOs to effectively grant advance planning permission in suitable locations. This deals with all the key planning issues and sets out development parameters or 'ground rules', for example maximum building height, but leaves considerable  flexibility over exactly how and where new buildings can be developed within the agreed areas of the site. 

The advantage of an LDO over the normal planning application process, or more traditional masterplan, is that it helps existing businesses and potential new investors commit to investing in a property. They know they can develop it to meet their needs within these broad parameters, and without the usual cost, time and potential risk involved in a full planning application.  

If a LDO is adopted, proposals that are within the agreed development parameters will be able to proceed following the submission of a pre-development notification to the council, reducing the time it takes for LPAs to process the notification to three weeks. This is a significant time saving compared to normal planning applications. For applicants and the council, it also means significantly less time and cost is involved in preparing and considering an application, as all the key planning issues have already been addressed. The overall effect is a significantly streamlined planning process. It also means that appeals are not part of the planning process. 

While the LDO does not relate to a specific project, in practice the first development allowed under the LDO could commence within a matter of a couple of months of its adoption. However, there will be a standard range of conditions which must first be approved by the LPA, before any new building can start. 


What are we proposing for Greenham Business Park?

When the Greenham Trust (the Trust)  acquired the USAF Greenham Base in 1997, it gifted 304 hectares of common land back to the council.  The Trust retained the former Technical Area of the air base, now established as Greenham Business Park, for development. The existing planning permission includes a masterplan for the site, but this has proved to be too inflexible to adapt to evolving market demand. Of the permitted 148,000 square metres of development, only around 40 percent has been used, therefore there remains significant scope for growth. 

The draft Greenham LDO has been prepared by the council's planning officers with the involvement of the Trust, and its planning consultant Pro Vision . It has been drafted to cover a period of 15 years, with the potential for regular reviews every 5 years to ensure it is delivering its objectives, and provides a framework for managing the impacts of development permitted within the park and the surrounding area, particularly on the northern boundary which adjoins the Common.

The draft document sets out a series of development parameters  based on a zonal plan, which includes an overall cap on total floorspace within the business park and the land uses that are permitted. The cap is identical to the amount of floorspace already permitted under the existing outline permission on the site. Proposals falling within these parameters can proceed following a pre-development notification  to the council. Proposals falling outside of these parameters will remain subject to the normal planning application process.

We aim to encourage the continued regeneration of the former military base into a thriving business park, by the focusing on traditional business uses, including  offices, research and development, industrial uses and storage and distribution. This will allow for a mix of businesses and complementary uses (including, strictly limited amounts of small-scale retail, car sales and leisure uses).  


What will be the impact?

The draft LDO is intended to attract investment in the business park by reducing the uncertainty associated with the normal planning application process. We hope that by streamlining the process, there will be more investment in the site, and the site should be less susceptible to economic downturns.  This would help create job opportunities, by retaining existing businesses and attracting new ones to the area. To complete the development of the business park in line with the existing planning permission would see a further investment of over £150m.  This will come from the Trust, from investors and from incoming businesses.   
Approximately 25 percent of the existing accommodation is new build. Many of the 'legacy' buildings from the air base remain, and these generally achieve lower rental values as they are less fit-for-purpose. The draft LDO aims to encourage redevelopment with more modern, visually attractive and user focussed accommodation, which should lead to an increase in business rate generation over the coming years. It will also allow the Trust to distribute more funds towards local good causes. 

In a competitive economy, the speed and certainty brought by a LDO can prove to be the key issue for businesses deciding whether to invest in the area or go elsewhere. It also benefits the LPA and other local stakeholders by managing the site in a comprehensive and streamlined framework, rather than piecemeal, and reduces the need to repeatedly assess similar planning issues. 

A series of technical studies, including landscape assessment, heritage assessment , ecological  surveys and traffic assessment, have informed the development parameters. For example, building heights are restricted on the northern boundary to control the visual impact from the Common. 

A number of planning conditions are also specified, including, for example those for managing noise impacts and external lighting. 

All future development proposals will also have to comply with the Design Guidance , which addresses the appearance of buildings and other matters to control the impact of development. 


Next steps

All comments will be taken carefully into account and should it be considered appropriate to proceed with the LDO, we will prepare a report (which includes our pdf icon Equality Impact Assessment - stage one [147kb]) for discussion at Full Council on 6 December 2018. 

You can take part in this consultation by emailing your comments to the Planning Service by 5pm on 13 September 2018.

NB: hard copies of all the documents are available to view at our Market Street Offices for the duration of this consultation. Please ask at reception during normal office hours.

 

Appendices:

Technical documents: 

Environmental Impact Assessments:

Who To Contact