The consultation on the Greenham Business Park Local Development Order (LDO) will be live until 14 May 2018.
Greenham Business Park is the largest strategic employment site in West Berkshire, and is therefore integral to the success of the local economy.
Following the closure of the former airbase, planning permission was granted in the late 1990s for comprehensive redevelopment of the former Technical Area (including the hangars and military accommodation). The existing planning permission includes a masterplan for the site, but this has proved to be too inflexible to adapt to evolving market demand. Of the permitted 1.6 million square feet of development, only around 40% exists today, therefore there remains significant scope for growth.
The LDO is a streamlined planning process to boost economic growth. It will allow a mix of business and ‘complementary uses’ to help the continued regeneration of the former military base into a thriving business park.
It sets out a series of development parameters based on a zonal plan, which include an overall cap on total floorspace within the business park and the land uses that are permitted. Proposals falling within these parameters can proceed following a compliance check of a pre-development notification to the council. Proposals falling outside of these parameters will remain subject to the normal planning application process.
An LDO has clear advantages over planning permission as it deals with all the key planning issues in advance and sets out development parameters or ‘ground rules’, for example maximum building height, but leaves flexibility over exactly how and where new buildings can be developed within the agreed areas of the site.
Compared to a traditional masterplan, this helps existing businesses and potential new investors to commit to the business park knowing that they can develop to meet their needs within these broad parameters and without the usual time and risk involved in a full planning application.
The Greenham LDO would focus is on the traditional business uses, including offices, Research & Development, industrial uses and storage and distribution. Complementary uses (that will help to sustain the business community) include strictly limited amounts of small-scale retail, car sales and leisure uses.
Hilary Cole, West Berkshire’s Executive Member for Planning said: “We are very proud to be working with Greenham Trust on this initiative, which will encourage economic growth and boost development in Greenham and beyond. As a council, we want to send out a message to developers and businesses that West Berkshire is open for business and this LDO does just that. It would bring a number of benefits to the area and we would hope to use it as a springboard to other innovative economic development opportunities across the district.”
Chris Boulton, Chief Executive of Greenham Trust and Greenham Business Park Ltd said: “In a competitive economy, an LDO can prove to be the key issue for businesses deciding whether to invest in the area or go elsewhere. It also benefits the Local Planning Authority and other local stakeholders by managing the site in a comprehensive rather than piecemeal way and reduces the need to assess similar planning issues over and over again.”
The draft LDO has been published for consultation before being presented to Council Members in July, to consider its final adoption. It is designed to cover a period of 25 years, with regular reviews to ensure it is delivering its objectives.