Plans have been approved for a high-density, 1,386-home scheme with 22,663 square metres of industrial floorspace on a site in north London currently allocated as a strategic industrial location.

The full planning application, for the redevelopment of the 12.28-hectare former Nestle factory site on the edge of Hayes, was approved earlier this week by the London Borough of Hillingdon.

The application sought consent for 1,386 homes in buildings ranging from four storeys to 11 storeys, and 22,663 square metres of commercial floorspace within four units, “with unrestricted 24 hour use, 365 days a year.”

A council planning report said that, under adopted local planning policies, the site is designated as a strategic industrial location (SIL)/industrial business area (IBA) which seeks “to promote, manage and protect employment land for employment uses”.

However, the report said that policies in the council’s emerging Local Plan Part 2 seek to “release this site from its SIL designation as part of a managed review and release of local surplus employment land”.

The report said that the council’s Hillingdon 2014 Employment Land Study Update had identified a “long term decrease in demand for industrial land over the plan period up to 2026”.

It said that this conclusion was “supported by the Greater London Authority Land for Industry and Transport SPG 2012 which also identifies a surplus [of employment land] in the borough”.

The proposed density of the scheme is 430 habitable rooms per hectare/170 units per hectare. The report said that the Greater London Authority had advised that, for sites of this type, a residential density of 150 to 350 habitable rooms per hectare/35 to 90 units per hectare was recommended in the London Plan.

The existing London Plan provides a density matrix by which new schemes should be judged; taking into account whether a site’s setting is urban, suburban or central and the Public Transport Accessibility Level (PTAL), a measure produced by mayoral advisor Transport for London.

The report said that the residential part of the site currently has a PTAL of 2 and 3 although this was “projected to increase to at least 4 when Crossrail opens in 2018 and yet further if proposed bus route improvements are implemented”.

“Based on the future PTAL for the application site, the proposed density is considered to be appropriate for this location which has good (and improving) accessibility, therefore the proposal accords with local and regional planning policy requirements”, the report said.

The report also said that the Greater London Authority had said that the proposed density was “strongly supported in strategic planning terms”.

The plans were approved and the application will now be referred to the mayor of London.

Developers Barratt London and SEGRO are behind the plans.

Source: Michael Donnelly, Planning Resource, 14 December 2017

Local Comment:  Wirral Council refused to include the Mollington Link site (bounded by the Green Lane scrapyard, Merseyrail railway line, Hind Street and the disused railway embankment) within our neighbourhood area on the basis that it was a strategic employment land allocation in the Unitary Development Plan, adopted February 2000.  The Council’s new strategic housing and employment land assessment is stalled with the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority and it is unclear whether the combined authority has any legal power to either approve or reject this document.  The Government has already signalled its intention to strip Wirral Council of its plan-making powers because of these continuing delays.  Two outline applications for commercial development on this site have come to nothing.  So, the future development of this important site in the centre of Birkenhead, superbly located for public transport and access to the road tunnel, is still very much up for debate.  The decision by the Council of the London Borough of Hillingdon shows that simply because a site is allocated for commercial and light industrial uses, this does not necessarily rule out any residential development. – Philip Barton