The Principal Development Management Officer (PDMO), Be First Development Management Team, introduced a report on an application from Inland Homes for a planning permission at 7 Thames Road, Barking for the demolition of existing buildings and structures and the construction of a building ranging from part 6 storeys to part 14 storeys to provide 131 residential units and industrial space (Use classes E(g), B2 and B8 at ground and first floor. The proposals included the delivery of landscaping and public realm, play space, access, car parking and other associated and ancillary works.
In addition to internal and external consultations, a total of 176 notification letters were sent to neighbouring properties together with the requisite statutory site and press notices. One response was received from FedEx Express UK Transportation Ltd based at 2 Thames Road objecting to the application, the material planning considerations and issues of which were addressed within the planning assessment.
Following the publication of the agenda a supplementary report was circulated as referred to by the PDMO in their presentation stating that FedEx had presented further representations. Whilst this did not raise any new material planning issues officers had sought to address noise concerns by amending Condition 20 to ensure that the design of the residential units took account of noise mitigation early in the construction phase with appropriate safeguards put in place to ensure above ground works did not commence until full details of a scheme of acoustic protection had been submitted to and approved by the Local Planning Authority.
The Committee then received a written representation from agents acting for FedEx which was read out at the meeting by the Governance Officer, which in summary stated:
Concern had been expressed about the impact the residential development would have on FedEx current operations. It was felt that this was not an appropriate location for residential development. The principle of residential uses within strategic industrial land and its co-location with industrial uses was not supported by the London Plan and the adopted Core Strategy, and consequently given the policies of the emerging Local Plan and the draft River Road Employment Area SPD had still to be adopted, it was not appropriate for the local planning authority to attribute significant weight in this respect.
Furthermore, the current market indicated that the principle of co-locating industrial intensification with residential uses did not work in practice, putting businesses like FedEx at risk of displacement.
The Council’s Environmental Protection Team had identified that there were significant deficiencies in the applicant’s noise report which were confirmed in a separate assessment commissioned by FedEx. It was felt that the revised condition wording set out in the supplementary report would not provide any certainty that an ‘acoustic solution’ could be found or that suitable external noise levels for the residential elements of the proposed development would be achieved. Consequently, FedEx would still be at risk of future complaints under either planning or statutory nuisance. Other concerns about air quality, health and safety and the scale and massing of the development were also highlighted.
In conclusion FedEx would welcome further discussions as to whether an appropriate clause could be proposed in the s106 agreement which would prevent future occupiers of the development from submitting noise complaints, but that until such time these conflicts were satisfactory resolved the application should be refused.
Responding to the objection Patrick Thomas acting for the applicant provided an overview of the application highlighting the positive benefits the development would bring to the area. Having regard to the additional measures proposed by officers as set out in the supplementary report he was confident the development would not compromise the existing activities of FedEx or that of neighbouring business activities in the area.
The officer assessment of the application was that it sat within designated Strategic Industrial Land (SIL) and the proposal was for a mix-use development. Whist the development would be a departure from the adopted Core Strategy (June 2010), the draft Local Plan (Regulation 19(2)) being at an advanced stage, namely submitted for examination by the Planning Inspectorate, proposed to re-designate the site from SIL use and create a cohesive and sustainable mix-use neighbourhood along Thames Road.
The vision for the area would allow the industrial working area to flourish and grow as well as deliver new homes and better link the area into surrounding neighbourhoods. The development as proposed complied with the land use terms of the draft Local Plan, and therefore it was the officer’s view that significant weight should be attached to those documents, and that on balance, it was considered that the principle of development was acceptable.
The development would increase the net number of jobs on site and would optimise opportunities for local employment, skills and training through the construction and end use phases. It would also contribute to the borough’s housing stock through the provision of 131 high quality residential units in compliance with relevant residential standards.
The scheme initially proposed 35% affordable housing; however, officers had worked with the applicant to offer an additional package of contributions towards school provision and open space. In doing so the affordable housing offer has been reduced to 21%, resulting in a loss of shared ownership units. That said officers considered that the amended proposal was acceptable and offered more benefit to the objectives of the draft Local Plan and draft Thames Road Masterplan Area
The siting, scale, massing, and height of the development was considered appropriate and in line with the parameters set in the emerging Thames Road Masterplan Area SPD. The development would be of a high-quality finish and would positively contribute towards the emerging townscape. The proposed landscaping strategy would also positively contribute to the appearance and the public realm in the area and enhance the arboricultural, biodiversity and environmental value of the site and the surrounding area.
The development would see a number of commitments to improve the accessibility of the site, including improving cycle routes, a contribution towards improving bus services and a financial contribution towards highway improvements.
The Energy Strategy submitted as part of the application had demonstrated that the proposals would sufficiently reduce carbon dioxide emissions, with any off set to be secured through the s106 agreement. In assessing the application, officers had found the proposed development to be acceptable following careful consideration of the relevant provisions of the NPPF, the Development Plan and all other relevant material considerations. Officers were also satisfied that any potential material harm in terms of the impact of the proposal on the surrounding area would reasonably be mitigated through compliance with the listed conditions and associated legal agreement.
In response to the application a number of points were raised including ensuring that local ward councillors would be consulted regarding the allocation of monies on to be spent on green schemes, a point that was acknowledged by officers. As an observation Members felt it was right for officers to give substantial weight to the emerging Local Plan and draft River Road Employment Area SPD and felt that the additional safeguards set out in the supplementary report addressed the points raised by the objector.
Therefore, the Committee RESOLVED to:
1. Agree the reasons for approval as set out in the report,
2. Delegate authority to the Director of Inclusive Growth (or authorised Officer) to grant planning permission subject to any direction from the Mayor of London, and the completion of a S106 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (as amended) based on the Heads of Terms identified at Appendix 5 and the Conditions listed at Appendix 4 of the report including a revised Condition 20 as set out in the supplementary report, and
3. That, if by 14 August 2022 the legal agreement has not been completed, the Director of Inclusive Growth (or other authorised Officer), be delegated authority to refuse planning permission, or extend this timeframe to grant approval, or refer the application back to the Planning Committee for determination.