Sustainability Appraisal - Second Interim SA Report Appraising Options for the Provision of Strategic Distribution Growth (Feb 2016)

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Comment

Sustainability Appraisal - Second Interim SA Report Appraising Options for the Provision of Strategic Distribution Growth (Feb 2016)

Q1. Do you have any comments to make on the Second Interim Sustainability Appraisal Report - Appraising Options for Strategic Distribution growth (Feb 2016)?

Representation ID: 5254

Received: 16/03/2016

Respondent: Prologis UK Ltd.

Agent: Nathaniel Lichfield & Partners

Representation Summary:

Representations are submitted on behalf of Prologis UK Ltd. A detailed report is provided that raises concerns regarding the approach adopted within the SA, given its failure to consider alternative development scenarios beyond those promoted at Magna Park; a lack of collaboration with neighbouring authorities; and a role more in keeping with advising development control decisions rather than properly informing the Local Plan preparation.

The representations present and assess alternative development options and include a second report detailing proposals for a strategic distribution development at a new junction (20A) of the M1 motorway.

Content of supporting documents has been summarised in 2 seperate representations.

Comment

Sustainability Appraisal - Second Interim SA Report Appraising Options for the Provision of Strategic Distribution Growth (Feb 2016)

Q1. Do you have any comments to make on the Second Interim Sustainability Appraisal Report - Appraising Options for Strategic Distribution growth (Feb 2016)?

Representation ID: 5326

Received: 16/03/2016

Respondent: Prologis UK Ltd.

Agent: Nathaniel Lichfield & Partners

Representation Summary:

Detailed comments made in respect of Report (ISA2) are summarised as;

Consideration of 'Reasonable Alternatives'
 SA doesn't assess other schemes discussed in the LP Options Consultation Paper (Sept. 2015), and is restricted to an SA of 3 planning applications.
 Guidance of PPG on what comprises a reasonable alternative has not been followed, and the SA has not considered all reasonable alternatives and assessed them in the same level of detail.
 The SA should have properly identified possible alternatives, rather than quickly dismiss possible sites without reference to the SA Framework. Para 2.1.4 refers to "a number of other sites" that may also have been put forward but doesn't identify or assess them. Appraisal of these against the SA Framework should have been undertaken.
 Arguments made in Section 2.3 for 'alternatives discarded', are neither valid nor robust. The rejection of sites before this stage on the basis of criteria outside of the SA Framework undermines any conclusions that could be reached from the SA process.
 A complete assessment of the ability of all possible options should be carried out with reference to the SA Framework and no policy decisions should be made until such time that this appraisal has taken place. The sites to be appraised must be drawn up comprehensively and with regard to the guidance provided at Section 4 of the SDSS which makes specific recommendations regarding the establishment of a task force to ensure proper long term strategic and collaborative planning across Leicestershire and proper discussion and identification of the most suitable sites to be brought forward. All sites identified from the sieving process must be considered to be 'reasonable alternatives' and should be subject to the same detailed appraisal to inform proper spatial planning in Leicestershire.

Failing the Duty to Co-operate Test
 The development of strategic distribution floor-space of the nature envisaged by the SDSS comprises the type of infrastructure specified in para 4a of Part 33A of the Localism Act. For the Council to meet the Duty to Co-operate test, it must engage with the authorities surrounding Harborough to establish the most appropriate means by which to take forward the recommendation of the SDSS.
 ISA2 provides limited information on any engagement. Pro-forma is referred to but no record of responses and how these have fed into the SA and planning process is provided. Harborough has failed to demonstrate how it has complied with the Duty to Co-operate. It must be concluded that meaningful liaison on a strategic level has not taken place, and any policy decisions taken by HDC arising from ISA2 must bring into question whether the Local Plan is sound

Incorrect Application of Reason for SA
 Second Interim SA has been prepared, not to identify how reasonable alternatives in the provision of strategic distribution floor-space contribute to sustainable development, but rather to assess and provide a basis on which the Council may base decisions on the three applications for sites on the edge of Magna Park. The flaws in the methodology used and the assumptions that have been made mean that any decision taken which uses the conclusions of the Second Interim SA as a basis would be flawed and could affect proper planning in the area.
 SA has no role in justifying decisions to be made in respect of planning applications. This is particularly the case when such decisions must be considered to be premature ahead of the examination and, ultimately, adoption of clear strategic policies in respect of the delivery of distribution floor-space within Leicestershire.
 PPG provides guidance on the circumstances in which it may be justifiable to refuse planning permission on the grounds of prematurity. Both circumstances are met in terms of the provision of strategic distribution, namely in respect of the scale of development that is required to meet needs and in respect of the current stage of the Harborough Local Plan.

Interpretation of Evidence (on which SA is based)
 Consistent with the conclusions of the SDSS, a key element is to deliver development across the Leicester & Leicestershire area rather than concentrate development in one area.
 Second Interim SA report has incorrectly interpreted or referred to the recommendations of the SDSS in 2 key areas; the process of collaborative planning (incl. site identification / analysis) for the sector, and the importance of offering a geographical spread of commercially attractive sites. It does not recommend the independent and isolated identification of sites by local authorities which, it must be concluded, would harm proper plan making in the area and would threaten the objectives of sustainable development.
 Floor-space quoted is inaccurate with reference to Table 3.1 of the SDSS which specifies a shortfall of 50ha for rail served floor-space by 2031 with 115ha by 2036. For non-rail served floor-space, Table 3.1 specifies a shortfall of 107ha by 2031 and 153ha by 2036.
 Rapidly changing economic circumstances in respect of UK strategic distribution floor-space mean that there is an urgent need to update the SDSS in 2016 to reflect the very significant demand for floor-space in the Leicestershire area. Evidence indicates that the floor-space in the SDSS may be out of date already and there is already a need for further areas to be identified in the area to meet needs.

Relationship of SA to Harborough Local Plan
 Clear conflict between the statements made in paragraph 1.1.8 and 1.1.10. If the findings from the Second Interim Report are being used in the process of policy making then the document must be concluded to form part of the formal SA process. If that is the case, then the failure of the document to properly appraise all reasonable alternatives, to provide clear recommendations and any mitigation and to explain how the process will inform the plan making process is clearly contrary to the requirements of the Environmental Assessment of Plans and Programmes Regulations 2004 and the SEA Directive. If not part of the formal process of SA, then policy choices and decision making in respect of the delivery of strategic distribution floor-space should not take place until full and proper SA has occurred to ensure that any decisions made have full regard the legislative requirements of the SA process.

Our review of the Second Interim SA report has highlighted a number of significant flaws that must give rise to questions regarding the soundness of the appraisal process. Notwithstanding this, it is considered that these matters are capable of being addressed through a limited focussed examination of the key points relevant to this sector. However this should only occur once proper strategic analysis of this issue has taken place to find the most appropriate locations for the delivery of the requirements for the Leicestershire area as a whole and a robust analysis of the relationship of any sites to the principles of sustainable development has taken place.

We consider that the weight of evidence presented by this document indicates that further consideration needs to be given to ensuring that the delivery of strategic distribution floor-space is subject to proper strategic investigation before any policy choices or further decisions are made. Further SA will be required once the process has taken place.

Comment

Sustainability Appraisal - Second Interim SA Report Appraising Options for the Provision of Strategic Distribution Growth (Feb 2016)

Q1. Do you have any comments to make on the Second Interim Sustainability Appraisal Report - Appraising Options for Strategic Distribution growth (Feb 2016)?

Representation ID: 5327

Received: 16/03/2016

Respondent: Prologis UK Ltd.

Agent: Nathaniel Lichfield & Partners

Representation Summary:

An additional site (Prologis Park, Leicester) is proposed for strategic distribution development, as part of an emerging proposal for the development of a replacement motorway service station at a new Junction 20A on the M1 motorway.

Site for the logistics park extends to 65ha, would provide 378,000m2 of B2 /B8 floor-space and could deliver over 6,000 high quality jobs. Site includes land in both Harborough and Blaby districts.

Supporting documents (submitted with representation) detail site advantages, summarised as;
* Strategic highway location (with proposed new M1 junction)
* Proximity to Leicester, could assist in addressing congestion issues of M1 Junction 21
* Within convenient reach of a large resident working population
* Help meet distribution development needs of Leicester and Leicestershire up to 2031
* Accessible by means other than the private car
* Would allow direct HGV access to UK strategic highway network
* Outside of any flood zone (except small parcel to E of Whetstone Brook)
* No on-site heritage policy protection
* 4kms from nearest policy protect ecological site
* Within an area where large scale development exists & can be accommodated in landscape
* Not within an Air Quality Management Area

The M1 Junction 21 is a heavily congested section of motorway, which cannot be improved due to impracticalities with gaining road width and capacity at the roundabout. Junction 20, 11 miles away doesn't offer any potential for relieving traffic pressure. A new junction would:
* Provide alternative access to Leicester
* Reduce turning movements and traffic volume at junction 21
* Provide a direct link into Blaby bypass / the A class road network
* Allow relocation of Leicester Forest East Motorway Service Area (to betterment of prevailing road conditions)
* Create more appropriate base traffic flows enabling Highways England to introduce the "managed motorway" system

Delivery of proposed M1 junction 20a via the Development Consent Order (DCO) process as a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project ('NSIP'), could also apply to warehouse element via an opt-in DCO.

Site not subject of representation at Options Consultation Paper stage, or via Calls for Sites, as junction 20a scheme not sufficiently progressed.

An indication of how Prologis Park Leicester (suggested Option D) and a hypothetical Option E (107ha in 2 locations beyond Magna Park and across Leicester and Leicestershire area) could contribute to the principles of sustainable development is provided in supporting documentation. For comparison it uses an identical appraisal process to the Second Interim SA Report.
The initial appraisal of Options D and E states that they give rise to less adverse effects on the principles of sustainable development and therefore comprise reasonable alternatives that should be considered as part of the process of identifying the most appropriate locations for strategic distribution floor-space within Leicestershire.

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