The Committee received and considered the report from the Development Control Manager.
This application is brought before the Development Control Committee as the Borough Council is the applicant and principle landowner. As such this application was reported to the Monitoring Officer on 01 December.
The Development Control Manager reported that the application site lies at the southern end of the Great Yarmouth port, representing the southernmost area of land on the north side of the River Yare and within port operational land. Vehicular and pedestrian access along the west of the headland is only currently possible from South Denes Road, a classified C-road, as far as a turning head at the southernmost tip of the road where security gates and kiosk prevent further access. Public vehicle access from South Beach Parade, also a classified C-road, along the east side of the headland ends at a security gate and kiosk just south of Hartmann Road on the north side of the Outer Harbour. Beyond both sets of security gates entry is limited to personnel and servicing within the port operational land.
The Development Control Manager reported that part of the application site is owned by the Great Yarmouth Port Authority (GYPA) within the proposed temporary works area; the applicant has served notice to the GYPA under Article 14 of the Town and Country Planning (Development Management Procedure) (England) Order 2015, though they also remain a statutory consultee to the application.
In its most basic form, the application seeks to:
(i) build an extension to South Denes Road, as an access to future buildings and parking areas;
(ii) provide new quay headings and quay wall for more vessel docking areas at a berth alongside a new quay wall to the west of the site;
(iii) create a new pontoon area for new berthing with linkspan bridges to connect to the shore; and,
(iv) provide parking and storage areas on land ahead of future permanent development.
The Development Control Manager reported that the proposed site is within flood zones 1, 2 and 3 and contains identified contaminated land and the west of the headland is a hazardous development area due to the presence of utility lines and activities taking place. The site is within the Coastal Change Boundary; much of the south-eastern parts of the site fall on the seaward side of the Coastal Change Boundary but the Shoreline Management Plan confirms Yarmouth will be protected, as is the case with the Outer Harbour, for example. The site is adjacent to protected wildlife areas of national and international importance, including the Special Protection Area of the Outer Thames Estuary, including the coast and River Yare, and the Southern North Sea Special Area of Conservation which adjoins the south eastern boundary of the site. As the site is visible from the southern side of the river it has a possible impact on the visual setting of the No. 17 Gorleston Conservation Area Extension, designated in 2009, and the Cliff Hill Conservation Area. Much of the site is part of the designated port operational land. It is both a safeguarded employment area and in addition to planning designations the eastern half of the site falls within the South Denes area of the Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft Enterprise Zone.
The Development Control Manager reported that the application is an Environmental Impact Assessment application and is accompanied by an Environmental Statement (ES) which addresses the impacts relating to development of the road, external storage areas, parking, construction of the sea wall / quay heading and creation of the berthing facilities. Pre-application discussions were held with the LPA planning service regarding the scope of the ES and the various supporting documents required.
The Development Control Manager reported that planning application submitted to GYBC as Local Planning Authority concerns only those elements which are located above ‘mean high water springs’ level. Other aspects of the project, such as the use and siting of pontoons in the estuary or the deepening of the navigational channel are subject to a separate application(s) for a Marine Licence which has been made to the Marine Management Organisation (MMO). The MMO has also been consulted as part of this planning application but no comments have been received to
The application includes:
• Location and layout plans
• Environmental Statement covering: Air quality; Cultural heritage; Biodiversity; Geology and soils; Water environment; Noise and vibration; Major accidents and disasters; and, Cumulative effects
• Planning and regeneration statement
• Pre-application consultation report
• Shadow Habitats Regulations Assessment
• Surface water drainage strategy
• Transport statement.
The Development Control Manager reported that the land included in this application is also covered by the South Denes Local Development Order (LDO) which was introduced in 2012 and lasts to 2022. The South Denes LDO is currently being reviewed to consider whether and how it should be extended beyond 2022.
However, certain developments cannot take place through the LDO process, such as:
• proposals which are EIA development;
• proposals which present a high risk to the water environment; or,
• proposals where use of the land first needs to fulfil pre-commencement conditions or where activities are restricted by condition.Effectively, this requires that any project that intends to come forward through the LDO process can only do so if the project is first compliant with any conditions attached to any formal planning permissions on that land. As the land for the wider O&M Campus site is in the applicant’s ownership and application site red line area, and is being opened-up by this access road development, it can be subject to conditions which require matters to be addressed and approved before that LDO development commences. As an example, if an archaeology condition(s) is imposed on the temporary works area land in this application site, a developer aiming to benefit from the LDO
permitted development right would have to undertake works required by the archaeology conditions to shape the scheme into a suitable form for archaeology purposes, before their proposal becomes eligible to qualify as Permitted Development through the LDO.
The Development Control Manager reported that this meant the decision maker on this application can impose conditions through this permission which shape how developments should take place in the wider O&M Facility site, despite the presence of the LDO. This is particularly relevant in the case of highways, drainage and archaeology concerns raised and discussed below, but any material considerations can be addressed in this way, so long as they meet the tests for planning conditions set out in the NPPF, i.e. being necessary, relevant to planning and to the development to be permitted, enforceable, precise and reasonable in all other respects. Where conditions are necessary to be pre-commencement there should be clear justification for doing so.
The main considerations for this application concern:-
Principle of development,
Highways and access,
Fluvial and tidal flood risk,
Surface water drainage,
Impact on ecology / biodiversity inc. designated sites,
Residential and commercial amenity; and
Other material considerations:-
Design, heritage and archaeology,
Navigation and vessel safety,
Public site access,
Environmental Statement; and
Links to future applications.
The Development Control Manager reported that the new sea wall along the northwest river channel edge would be installed in front of the existing failing seawall. It would likely comprise a new sheet pile wall 1m in front of the existing quay wall, supported by another sheet pile rear anchor wall behind that. The quay wall will provide a berth area for larger craft known as Service Operation Vessels (SOVs) which might have a gross tonnage of 6,000 tonnes each. No precise details have yet been submitted but the positions are known and the precise construction details can be required by conditions prior to commencement. The concerns of the Port Authority are noted, but the incursion into the river channel is only 1m as permanent development with some temporary construction barriers and pontoons etc likely to be needed. The hydrological impacts on the behaviour of the river are mitigated by the new quay wall being positioned in front of the existing so there will be very minimal effect on river flows and the function of the spending beach. As such there are not considered to be any lasting impacts on the use of the river or the operations of the Port. The Marine Management Organisation will assess developments and operations on the riverbed. The Environment Agency will also give careful consideration to the seawall and other structures that affect flood defences as part of the Environmental Permitting consents process.
The Development Control Manager reported that the O&M Campus will complement the role of the Outer Harbour and help deliver regeneration through jobs creation and employment innovation, as well as helping the Great Yarmouth Port on the River Yare and increasing the Outer Harbour’s operating capacity. The O&M facility will provide support for investment in the offshore wind farm maintenance sector in particular, which is increasingly relevant as national Government is currently considering the expansion of existing wind farms and the creation of new wind farms in the southern North Sea in particular. The expansion of employment facilities is supported by Core Strategy policies CS1, CS2, CS6 and CS12 so long as it can provide transport by means other than the private car.
The Development Control Manager reported that this development will enable construction of buildings and facilities which are likely to be presented for ‘prior approval’ through the Local Development Order process; once such buildings address any pre-commencement conditions they would be otherwise approved by virtue of being permitted development through the LDO, unless they are EIA developments in themselves.
The Development Control Manager reported that finding a suitable surface water drainage solution for the site is interwoven with its ecological sensitivities and physical site constraints, as well as the restricted options available due to the end uses proposed. The application’s surface water drainage strategy has proposed a scheme for the roads, external storage and parking areas. However, it is of some concern because whilst it has attempted to address the drainage hierarchy it does not do so adequately and the system proposed will be likely to cause harm to the ecological assets around the site. The Lead Local Flood Authority (LLFA) is rightly keen to ensure the development addresses the drainage hierarchy, meaning the scheme needs to fully explore options for infiltration, and if not suitable or feasible then consider discharge to watercourse, ie the River Yare, and if that is not suitable then consider discharge to public sewer treatments. The applicant considers this acceptable largely because some small portions of the wider site already discharge into the River Yare. Their position is not supported by the LLFA who believe the scheme is not sufficiently detailed for the full planning permission, but this needs to be considered by the decision maker. Officers are reluctant to take an opposing view to that of the LLFA but in this exceptional instance do consider that the site can address the surface water drainage requirements by careful use of planning conditions. However, this will have implications for the O&M campus site delivery, as conditions must be pre- commencement and ‘Grampian’ in nature, as at this stage using these conditions involves a degree of uncertainty which offers no firm guarantee of being resolvable without further investigation.
The Development Control Manager reported that Natural England raise significant concerns in respect of both the evidential basis to justify the modest works proposed in this application, and in respect of the operations of the development once constructed. The Shadow Habitats Regulations Assessment (HRA) report provided by the applicant has been viewed with concern by Natural England. They raise a number of reasons why in their opinion the LPA as Competent Authority for the purposes of the Habitat Regulations should not approve the development just yet because it is not possible to confirm that the proposal will not result in adverse effects on the integrity of the internationally designated sites in the vicinity. The LPA relies on the advice of Norfolk County Council’s Natural Environment Team for ecological advice and to receive recommendations on the HRA process. The HRA should not be passed if there is any likelihood that the integrity of internationally protected sites will be adversely affected by the development. No advice has been received yet but it is fair to assume the HRA stage will not be passed and therefore mitigations are likely to be needed and an Appropriate Assessment should most likely be undertaken.
The Development Control Manager reported that in respect of passing the requirement of the Appropriate Assessment pursuant to the Habitats Regulations: It is recommended that any decision to view the application favourably should first require the following factors to be understood before a final decision is made, so that the decision on the Appropriate Assessment can be made favourably, and if necessary plans for mitigation through proposals can then be agreed before the development is finally permitted as these issues are unable to be addressed by conditions:
(i) The overall development will need to provide further survey data in respect of vulnerable marine bird species which rely on the area for feeding and breeding,
(ii)The overall development will need to quantify the severity and duration of noise from its operations and construction and propose a noise mitigation plan if this is not within acceptable tolerances; and
(iii) Air quality impacts should be better understood and an emissions management plan agreed for use during the overall site construction.
The Development Control Manager reported that it is recommended that the severity and relevance of Natural England’s concerns to this development should be discussed further before the HRA process is undertaken. This process has begun but a recommendation to approve this application must come with the caveat that any permission cannot be issued until the HRA and in all likelihood Appropriate Assessment is completed by the LPA as competent authority, and then reviewed and approved by Natural England. Resolving to issue a permission without first fulfilling the HRA requirements to Natural England’s satisfaction would be open to legal challenge and may need prior referral to Government under the EIA procedure.
The Development Control Manager reported that it is acknowledged there is a minor and low-level impact on the setting of designated heritage assets but these less than substantial in their degree and short- medium term in their nature and are outweighed by the wider public benefits of the development. In the interests of economic investment and with acknowledgement that this is the first stage of longer-term regeneration at the site, it is not proposed to impose onerous limits on the style, design, height or activity of the permanent external storage areas, though is it considered necessary to require specific measures to contain certain goods or materials stored there. Approval of the application in its current form involves a degree of uncertainty as to the final details of the infrastructure being provided to serve the wider O&M Campus Facility. However, there are sufficient reasons and grounds to reassure the decision maker that the development proposed, and that which will be enabled by this development, can be designed, constructed, and operated in a manner which satisfies the concerns of development plan policy, statutory stakeholders and consultees. Those mitigation measures lie in part with the local planning authority and in part with the role played by other regulatory regimes, but in as far as they are required for the purposes of making the planning application acceptable these can be secured by any permission being subject to carefully considered conditions, and agreement of further details prior to the commencement of developments on this application and in the adjoining site.
The Development Control Manager reported that the delivery of the wider employment site and regeneration benefits will be expedited by ensuring a degree of progress can be maintained in a timely fashion through approval of this application. To do so will begin a process of development that will create significant public benefits through economic investment and jobs creation for both the Borough and the region, as well as enabling expansion of the renewable energy sector to make a modest but valued contribution to the national de-carbonisation and climate change agenda. The application as it stands has gone a long way towards addressing the impacts of this development as identified through the Environmental Statement but requires the HRA and Appropriate Assessment process to be completed so that the necessary mitigation measures required pursuant to those can be contained in the development. Thereafter, a monitoring programme can be instigated to ensure compliance, so that in combination the mitigation and monitoring built into the development process will prevent likely significant effects on the environment and avoid significant detrimental effects on internationally designated sites.
The Development Control Manager reported that the way to proceed was:-
(i) To first complete the Habitats Regulations Assessment process and include any Appropriate Assessment mitigations into the scheme as necessary, followed by review and approval by Natural England; and
(ii) Then to approve; subject to the use of conditions as set out below, the proposal will comply with the aims of policies CS1, CS2, CS3, CS9 and CS11 of the Great Yarmouth Local Plan: Core Strategy, Paragraphs 8, 62, 111 and 130 of the NPPF, and is consistent with the aims set out in emerging policies of the final draft Local Plan Part 2.
Councillor Jeal asked for clarification as to whether he should declare a personal interest in this item as he was a member of the Member Working Group which had approved this project. Councillor Smith, Leader of the Council, asked the Chairman for permission to speak and explained that many of the Committee members had sat on the Great Yarmouth Town Centre Masterplan Member Working Group or Economic Development Committee and had approved this project but this should not preclude them from taking part in the debate this evening. The Monitoring Officer agreed that all Members who had set on the Member Working Group or Economic Development Committee did not have to declare a personal interest and could take part in the deliberation of the application this evening provided that they did not feel conflicted in any way and their mind was open to the planning considerations required to make a sound and informed determination of the application.
However, Councillor Jeal reported that he not declare an interest and would stay during the determination of the item but would not speak or vote.
Councillor Myers asked for further clarification in regard to the run off of surface water from the site as he had concerns with the proposal as outlined in the agenda report. He reported that he would like the drainage strategy to be re-visited as he did not think the surface water should be discharged into the public sewer system.
Councillors A Wright & Mogford were concerned that the application would narrow part of the river resulting in flooding and habitat issues as the construction of the Outer Harbour had on the coastline to the south.
The Monitoring Officer questioned the wording of the recommendation as she was concerned that the Committee were being asked to approve the application prior to the required mitigation being achieved as requested by Natural England, as the present resolution appeared to be assumptive. The Development Control Manager agreed that the wording of the resolution should be amended as follows at the end of paragraph (a); that the Council has strong confidence that the Habitat Regulations Assessment will be approved by Natural England.
Councillor Fairhead was concerned of the impact that this development would have on The Broads and that she had never come across holding objections on a planning application before. The Development Control Manager reported that these were objections which were held on-record until they were resolved.
That application 06/21/0415/F be approved;
(i) To first complete the Habitats Regulations Assessment process and include any Appropriate Assessment mitigations into the scheme as necessary, followed by review and approval by Natural England. The Council has strong confidence that the Habitat Regulations Assessment will be approved by Natural England.
(ii) Then Approve –
Subject to the use of conditions as set out below, the proposal will comply with the
aims of policies CS1, CS2, CS3, CS9 and CS11 of the Great Yarmouth Local Plan:
Core Strategy, Paragraphs 8, 62, 111 and 130 of the NPPF, and is consistent with
the aims set out in emerging policies of the final draft Local Plan Part 2.
The proposed conditions to be attached with approval as follows; the final form of conditions will be confirmed in liaison with the applicant but the following general summarised terms are required:-
1) The development must be begun not later than three years beginning with the
date of this permission,
2) The development shall be carried out in accordance with the application form and approved plans received by the local Planning Authority on 19th March 2021 drawing reference:
• Site Plan
and in accordance with the revised plans received by the Local Planning
Authority on 6th September 2021 drawing reference:
• 2022-044 – Proposed and Existing Elevations
• 2022-005 – Proposed Floor Plans
• 2022-006 – Proposed Floor and Sectional Plans,
3)Developments and uses on the land adjoining this development shall be restricted to those serving port-operational and energy sector activities only,
4) Notwithstanding the LDO, remove permitted development rights for the use of new buildings and land to be used initially for port and energy sector uses but then change to other uses,
5) Surface water drainage scheme to be agreed for the road, car parking, turning/access areas, substation, and permanent external storage areas – pre-commencement,
6) No surfacing or hardstanding to be installed in the temporary works areas without express permission being granted, and that application shall provide details of surface water drainage to follow principles at condition 3 above,
7) The permanent car parking area within this permission shall be limited to no more than 64 spaces as applied for,
8) Flood warning and evacuation strategy for this application (pre-use),
9) Flood mitigation & protection designs and tidal flood water storage scheme to be agreed for the wider O&M Campus site – pre-commencement in O&M,
10) Flood warning & evacuation strategy for later phases on O&M site (pre-use),
11) Foul drainage scheme to be agreed for the later O&M campus development,
12) Sea wall / quay works – details to be agreed to inc piling (vibro-piling as preference, with soft-start piling if not),
13) Ecological Clerk of Works is needed to oversee the works to sea wall and shoreline activities, to carry out marine mammal observations 30 minutes prior to any percussive piling being undertaken to ensure that there are no marine mammals within 500m of the proposed works,
14) Ecology protections set out at report paragraph 4.67 points (i ) – (x),
15) Ecological enhancement plan to be agreed,
16)Landscape scheme principles to be proposed for the whole site for use in subsequent phases of development,
17) Hours of construction should be restricted,
18) Construction traffic and management plan to be agreed,
19) Dust control,
20) Contamination investigations and remediation,
21) Further contamination precautions during development,
22) No removal of the existing turning head on South Denes Road without (i) first beginning the process of a TRO to stop up the highway, and (ii) confirming the intended extent of adoptable highway, and (iii) providing construction details of the extended roads to adoptable standard, and (iv) ensuring there are suitable designs agreed for a new turning head at the end of the newly extended adopted highway area. The area of highway shall remain open until an adopted turning area is provided to standard,
23) No development of the roads shall commence until:
a. construction details of the road with a permanent continuous 3.0m w footpath/cycleway along one side of the new road have been agreed; and,
b. details of temporary safe pedestrian route along the road for use until such time as the path is provided, are agreed; and,
c. details of phasing plan for footpath provision to be agreed; and,
d. details to show how provision will be made to enable future footpath links along South Denes Road; and,
e. details to show how provision will be made to enable future public transport connections into the site,
24) With the exception of temporary construction works, no use of land or the external storage areas until the adoptable-standard 3.0m footpath has connected that site up to the closest public highway footpath,
25) Precise details of the new substation, to ensure adequate area exists and/or to provide wall enclosure and screening thereof,
26) Precise details of the sea wall / quay heading construction to be agreed,
27) Limits on uses to be allowed on the adjoining temporary works area lands, to restrict activities to those involved in constructing the O&M Campus only,
28) Restrict uses allowed in the permanent external storage areas and removal of PD rights to change uses,
29) Restrictions on heights of materials or structures to be stored in the permanent external storage areas,
30) Any ‘loose’ materials to be stored need to be within enclosing structures,
31) Sea wall and quay heading construction details to be agreed,
32) Restrict permanent storage areas to the 2no. areas shown in the layout plan,
33) Provide monitoring regime for the impacts of the development; and
and any other conditions considered appropriate by the Development Control Manager.