Thursday, July 22, 2021

News: Government washes its hands of Droppingwell tip planning permission

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Despite original plans being approved in the 1950s, the Government has confirmed that it will not intervene in the planning issue around a controversial tip reopening in Rotherham.

When landfilling operations ceased at the Droppingwell site, the planning permission and environmental permit allowing landfilling activity in January 1978 remained in place. The EA granted a permit variation in 2016 which allows for 150,000 tonnes of inert waste to be imported, and 55,000 tonnes of waste for restoration, each year.

The operator, Grange Landfill Limited, is working under the conditions of the environmental permit, to install engineered infrastructure to meet the requirements of the permit to ensure that the proposed landfill activity at this site will not impact on the local environment. This includes the importation of inert waste for use in construction, which is legally allowed under the terms of the Permit.

It is thought that the conditions of the Environmental Permit have not yet been met, and full landfilling operations are not able to commence.

Opponents, including residents, users of nearby football and golf facilities, the council, and the local MP, have raised concerns regarding traffic, noise and other impacts on the local area which has changed since the original plans were approved in the 1950s.

The Council has looked in detail at the contents of the 1958 planning permission and considered all of the information provided to a public inquiry in 1992 and determined that legally relevant planning permission is in place.

An update to councillors states that the Council has now had a response from the Government regarding revoking planning permission at the site.

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The update reads: "The Council last wrote to the Secretary of State on 26th February 2021, to ask them to use their powers under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, to revoke or discontinue the planning permission and to fund any compensation claims from the Government purse. Whilst additional information has been requested by, and provided to, the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government in March 2021.

"A response was received from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) on 14th July 2021. MHCLG conclude that they: “…do not consider it would be expedient for the Secretary of State to exercise his powers to revoke planning permission or to discontinue use of land in this case.”"

The authority had already ruled out using Section 102 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 in terms of the potential for making a discontinuance order on the site. Any discontinuance would be subject to compensation and the Council calculated this to be potentially in excess of £20m.

A statement from the Council on the issue explains: "The Council does not have the financial resources to pay at that level of cost. In addition, the Council is unlikely to be able to justify the proportionality of spending such a large amount of local public money on a single planning issue without contravention of our value for money and financial fiduciary requirements."

Any Order made by the Council would not take effect unless it was confirmed by the Secretary of State, either without modification or subject to such modifications as the Secretary of State determines.

Section 104 of the Act gives the same power directly to the Secretary of State should they consider it expedient to use it. The Council decided that the best way forward in terms of the site is for the Secretary of State to intervene, and to use their powers to revoke or discontinue the Planning permission.

The response this month seems to rule out any Government intervention.

The update to councillors also highlights temporary traffic regulation orders to try and prohibit large vehicles in the area, issues over the access road, public rights of way, site security and the ongoing monitoring of the area. The Council also admitted that, despite the authority's stance on the issues, 30 lorry loads of waste were carried to the tip from contractors working on council-backed housing schemes.

Images: Google Maps

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News: First deal secured at Rotherham industrial development

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Network Space has secured its first letting at its speculative multimillion-pound Woodhouse Link development, close to M1 Junction 31.

BLE Smoke and Fire Curtains Ltd is taking the 31,200 sq ft Unit 3 on a 15-year lease. A second unit is also under offer.

Rothbiz reported earlier this year on plans for the site of the former Laycast foundry that had been "sterilised" by previous HS2 proposals.

Local construction company Harris CM is onsite delivering 116,600 sq ft of prime industrial space across four high specification units. Ready for occupation in early 2022, Woodhouse Link will be capable of fostering approximately 200 new jobs.

BLE is part of the family owned Lowe & Fletcher Group. A global supplier, the company has designed, made, installed and maintained innovative, bespoke smoke and fire curtains for buildings for the last 40 years, providing life-saving protection for millions of people in commercial buildings, stations, airports and hospitals.

The expansion to Woodhouse Link reflects the continued growth of the company. Nigel Ward, Managing Director from BLE said: “This purpose build facility in such a great location will offer the company an exceptional base for our fast growing business.

“The integral office will be to headquarter standard, in keeping with our brand and helping us to add the best talent to our team. The flexible design and high sustainability standards are ideal for our needs.”

Simon Peters, Development Director at Network Space, explains: “Woodhouse Link is designed to meet the shortage of quality industrial space within the Sheffield City Region, where it is evident that new supply is struggling to keep pace with strong demand.

“We’ve already had a lot of interest in the development and we are delighted to welcome BLE as our first occupier. Woodhouse Link offers a great central location and with a further unit under offer and strong enquiry levels in the remaining space we could be fully let before this speculative development completes.”

Woodhouse Link lies close to junctions 31 and 33 of the M1, to the east of Sheffield and on the south side of Rotherham, within the Advanced Manufacturing and Innovation District and close to the Advanced Manufacturing Park at Waverley.

The development has planning permission for 24/7 operation and is suitable for manufacturing or distribution uses. The detached and self-contained units all provide secure storage yards and parking, 8 to 10 metre high eaves, integral offices and are designed to a high sustainability standard, including EV charging points, and to a BREEAM Very Good rating.

With unit 3 now let and a further unit under offer, only units 1 and 2 remain available providing 48,900 sq ft and 13,200 sq ft respectively. Avison Young and CPP have been appointed to market the site.

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Toby Vernon, Director at CCP introduced the deal. He said: “Demand for quality units such as those at Woodhouse Link is going from strength to strength. We saw a record take up in 2020 and high demand for space has continued in 2021. Occupiers want modern, efficient buildings that will stand the test of time, which is one of the reasons demand is so high, evidenced by the letting to BLE.”

Rob Oliver, principal from Avison Young said: “We have always known this development will be well received by the occupational market, so we were delighted, but not surprised, to have two units under offer before speculative construction began.

“Well designed and highly specified they suit the demands and expectations of today’s occupiers who want accessible and cost effective premises which facilitate efficient operations, present the right impression to clients and the workforce and meet their environmental agenda.”

The project team includes DLA Architecture, Spawforths planners, Tetra Tech and CJR Midlands M&E engineers, Walker Sime QS and project management and Gateley legal.

It is being constructed by Yorkshire company, Harris CM. Jason Adlam, CEO at Harris CM, said: “This project is an impressive industrial development and we look forward to working with Network Space on our first contract together.

“The scheme demonstrates the importance of Sheffield’s industrial and manufacturing sectors and provides further opportunities for our workforce and supply chain, with a significant proportion being South Yorkshire based.”

BLE Smoke and Fire Curtains website
Network Space website

Images: BLE / Network Space

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Wednesday, July 21, 2021

News: Approval recommended for development on "last piece of AMP expansion land"

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The last phase of new development at the Advanced Manufacturing Park (AMP) in Rotherham is being recommended for approval by council planners.

Rothbiz reported in Frebruary on plans from landowners and developers, Harworth Group plc, for land to the south of Whittle Way and Highfield Spring.

Around 18 acres, land which has previously been granted planning permission for business and industrial uses, could soon be home to a further 242,000 sq ft of commercial floorspace.

An indicative masterplan shows seven units, ranging in size from 16,500 sq ft to 85,000 sq ft, with access from Whittle Way.

The plans are going to Rotherham Council's planning board due to the number of objections received. They have been revised after taking into consideration neighbour comments and consultation responses.

Objections centred around traffic and the location of commercial units close to houses.

Waverley Community Council is objectiong due to the loss of privacy for the houses opposite the site as a result of the positioning on Unit No. 10 so close to Highfield Spring. There is also a loss of the green corridor alongside the railway track and footpath.

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A report from offciers to the planning board states that: "Whilst the assessment of the traffic impact of the development shows that it will have some effect on local traffic, the site is in a sustainable location. With proper attention to details of travel planning, the site can be developed with a minimum of impact on the local highway network and is acceptable in highway/transportation terms."

The application site boundary is at the closest point approximately 25m away from the front elevation of nearby properties. The amended plans have included a strategic landscape buffer being provided along the Highfield Spring frontage of the site to soften any proposed development and improve residential amenity for the residents opposite. Additionally, the proposed hight of unit 10 has been reduced by 1.5m to a maximum height of 11.5m.

The site was earmarked for industrial use in the Council’s Local Plan which was adopted in 2019. The report adds: "The houses facing Highfield Spring across from the application site were therefore always going to face industrial development if the full allocation was developed out."

In its latest financial results, Harworth stated that 1.5 million sq ft had been built so far on the AMP with the intended amount of development on completetion (scheduled for 2025) at 2.1 million sq ft.

The outline plans are due to be discussed by the board this week.

Images: Harworth / Harris Partnership

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News: Further delay to publication of Government’s Integrated Rail Plan

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Key to large scale transport interventions in the the North, ihe Integrated Rail Plan (IRP) will not be published prior to parliamentary recess and will now be delayed until September 2021 at the earliest.

Rothbiz reported in March how the much anticipated document is expected to set out the long-term investment plans for the North’s rail upgrades as well as details on how the projects will be delivered.

It is hoped that a new mainline station in Rotherham is somewhere within the plans.

Sub-national transport body. Transport for the North (TfN) has now updated its members that the plan, first expected by the end of 2020, will now not be published prior to the parliamentary summer recess, commencing on July 22 2021.

TfN has agreed its final recommendations for the new Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR - a rapid, reliable and resilient rail network between the North's six biggest cities and other economic centres) but at request of the Department for Transport, TfN has agreed to delay submitting the business case until the Government’s Integrated Rail Plan has been published.

Board papers state: "The earliest possible SOC [Strategic Outline Case for NPR] – based on the earliest possible IRP after summer recess and the most minimal changes to modelling and the SOC drafting - would now be submitted 12 months later than previously programmed (March 2022), but potentially much later. This would in turn result in delays to the programme and start of construction, meaning that the potential gains in the programme to be made by rephasing the SOC will be outstripped by the continued delays to the IRP, delaying the step-change in connectivity, delivering transformational, clean, economic growth across the North of England brought about by Northern Powerhouse Rail."

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The South Yorkshire Mayor Dan Jarvis, said: "“We’ve now been waiting for eight months to see the Integrated Rail Plan. This ongoing delay is completely unacceptable.

"As a consequence, we’re being asked to make impossible decisions about vital rail links, such as that between Sheffield and Manchester Airport, without even seeing the government’s list of rail investment projects.

"This continued delay further fuels the suspicion that what is being planned falls far short of the promises that were made. Indeed, after a certain point, delay starts to send a strong message of its own.

“I struggle to see how this government can claim to be serious about ‘levelling up’ the North, when there are so many question marks about something as basic as improving rail connections between our towns and cities.

"We desperately need the Government to provide clarity on their plans for HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail serving our region. They’re prolonging the uncertainty for businesses and people living on the proposed HS2 route in the North.”

The Sheffield City Region Mayoral Combined Authority (MCA) put forward a number of high profile schemes and projects where it believes the Government should intervene.

Interventions include things like the HS2 "Northern Loop" out of Sheffield to Leeds, completing the electrification of the Midland Mainline and a national rail connection to Doncaster Sheffield Airport.

It also includes: "A new NPR station on the Midland Mainline at Rotherham which will significantly enhance regional and national rail connectivity for Rotherham and open up development opportunities. This should be integrated with the tram-train network to connect to the town centre."

SCR documents show that TfN is also proposing a new NPR station on the main line at Rotherham to support the economic regeneration of the town.

A new mainline station for Rotherham and a Barnsley Dearne Valley parkway station are set to be progressed through NPR and not HS2. A location for the Rotherham station is expected to be in Parkgate.

Images: HS2 Ltd

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News: UK's steel safeguards extended

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Local MP, John Healey has welcomed a last-minute Government U-turn over the removal of safeguard tariffs on cheap steel imports.

Rothbiz reported last month that Ministers were considering scrapping safeguards to protect the industry from foreign steel dumping.

The Trade Remedies Investigations Directorate (TRID) published its final recommendation recently. The body recommends axing protections for the British steel industry by removing several categories of steel from safeguard measures.

One of the products set to be removed is wire steel, produced at the Liberty plant in Rotherham. The US and EU are keeping protections in place.

As the deadline loomed, the Government announced that the five most important safeguards under threat would be extended for a further year, and that the decision-making powers of the Trade Remedies Authority would be reviewed.

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Healey, the MP for Wentworth and Dearne, said: “This is a huge victory for our steelworkers, who have campaigned hard over the last month against the removal of these safeguards. Their efforts helped me and other MPs make the case in Parliament, force the Government to change its plans, and keep these protections in place.

“But the fight does not stop here. As part of the government’s review, I want the Trade Remedies Authority reformed to represent the views of workers and industry and consider the impact of its decisions on communities like ours.

“And second, we may have stopped the immediate threat from cheap imports, but we have to do more than that to protect the future of the British steel industry. We need a long-term plan for investment and modernisation, making the UK a world leader in low carbon steel production and putting British-made steel at the heart of every major infrastructure project in our country.”

Next on the agenda for the industry and parliamentarians is the issue of energy prices. MP Stephen Kinnock, who chairs the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Steel and Metal-Related Industries has warned of a catastrophic impact on steel production if Ofgem, the energy regulator, goes through with a proposed hike in charges that would double network charges.

French and German steel makers face network charges equivalent to £1/MWh whilst UK steel makes already face network charges of £9 - £11/MWh.

Images: Liberty Steel

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