In Focus - Green belt scheme held to undermine renewal

After recovering two appeals for his own decision, the secretary of state has turned down proposals for a major commercial development in the Thames Gateway, raising concerns that it would encroach into the green belt and occupy an unsustainable location outside any key economic hub.

Thames Gateway: secretary of state turned down office scheme in green belt. London Borough of Havering photo
Thames Gateway: secretary of state turned down office scheme in green belt. London Borough of Havering photo

The scheme, promoted by the London Thames Gateway Development Corporation, comprised 86,100 square metres of class B1, B2 and B8 employment floorspace, along with a hotel and creche, on a 35-hectare site near Aveley. The corporation said the scheme would improve the quality and quantity of employment land, particularly for warehousing and distribution.

Various conditions were proposed to limit the amount of built development and the mix of employment uses. The site's location on the inner margin of the green belt and the high-quality design and landscaping proposed would limit the degree to which it would encroach into the countryside and reduce openness, the corporation maintained.

The inspector had little doubt that the proposal would have an adverse impact on the area's openness, introducing significant built development into the countryside. He was equally concerned about its potential to undermine the regeneration of brownfield sites. The evidence indicated that land was already available to meet job creation forecasts, he found.

In his view, high-value office accommodation supported by warehousing and distribution floorspace had not been justified by reference to economic development or renewal objectives. The secretary of state agreed that justification for the development was somewhat light, particularly as another site was available for offices. The site was poorly served by public transport, he noted. He concluded that the scheme was contrary to most green belt objectives, including preventing urban sprawl.

Inspector: Lloyd Rodgers; Inquiry

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