EastEnders set local development order approved

A Hertfordshire council has adopted a local development order (LDO) for the set of BBC soap opera EastEnders, believed to be the first such order for a film and TV production site in the country.

Hertsmere Borough Council. Image by HBC
Hertsmere Borough Council. Image by HBC

A full meeting of Hertsmere Borough Council last week voted to approve the order following a public consultation last year.

The order, which will come into force on Sunday (February 2), would allow development without planning permission at a 2,072 square metre lot at the site in Elstree set in Borehamwood, subject to a number of conditions.

According to a statement from the council, it is thought to be the first example of an LDO being used for a film and TV production site in the country.

Adrien Waite, the council’s head of planning and economic development, said: "Any substantive changes to the new EastEnders set will still require planning permission but the LDO means planning applications for routine set changes will be avoided and staff resources can be focussed on other important work."

LDOs, first introduced in the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004, provide upfront planning permission for specified types of development in defined locations. 

The new Hertsmere order would apply to the "front lot" at the BBC’s Elstree site, where permanent structures are being built to replace the existing set, made up from facades.

Planning permission for the construction of a permanent film and television stage at the location was granted by the council in 2015.

According to the council, the LDO sets out parameters on the heights of buildings, the total landscaped area, and elevational changes and is linked to the original 2015 planning permission.

It states that the area covered by the set cannot be increased by more than 20 per cent.

The LDO has a lifespan of 30 years, and the council would have the right to revoke it at any point.

An officer’s report to the committee said that, during the consultation, a small number of concerns had been raised about the potential for noise on nearby residents.

However, the report said: "The parameters for additional development under the LDO have been carefully set so as to take account of the proximity of nearby residents and avoid impacting on those properties.

"Any noise during the construction phase of LDO-related development would be subject to controls under the Control of Pollution Act 1974 and Environmental Protection Act 1990 which places specific duties on building contractors to ensure that noise, smoke and dust is kept to a minimum."

In December, the British Property Federation recommended an increase in the use of LDOs as part of an Accelerated Planning Manifesto ahead of the general election.

Last year, multi-disciplinary consultancy Arup said LDOs could help speed up the delivery of modular homes.

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