Joint Core Strategy - Proposed Main Modifications

9 Appraisal of employment sites

Reasons for selecting the alternatives

9.1 In addition to the alternative SUE locations proposed by stakeholders during the Examination, a number of strategic employment sites were also proposed by stakeholders who consider that these sites should also be allocated for employment uses.  The JPU agreed to consider these alternative sites against the two  strategic employment sites identified in the  JCS as submitted (i.e. the DIRFT extension and Silverstone Circuit).  Note that the JCS as submitted does not allocate strategic employment sites.  It includes a policy for Silverstone Circuit and one for DIRFT (Silverstone Circuit has planning permission and the DIRFT 3 extension is currently subject to a major infrastructure application).   

9.2 Table 9.1 lists the alternative strategic employment sites proposed, and the location of these site options is shown in Figure 9.1

Table 9.1 Alternative locations for strategic employment sites

Site code

Site name

SA28

DIRFT extension (Policy E4 of the JCS as submitted )

SJ01

Silverstone Circuit ( Policy E5 of the JCS as submitted )

SA29

Pineham Extension

SA36 and SA50

Land at Junction 16 of the M1/ Midway Park

SA46

Brackmills Extension

SA49

West of Grange Park

SA82

Arm Farm

SHLAA NBC 208

Swan Valley Gateway 

SA31

Houghton Gate

Approach to the appraisal

9.3 Each of the proposed strategic employment sites and the two currently  identified strategic employment sites were appraised in SA matrices provided in Appendix 13.  The assumptions used for determining significance of effects for each SA objective are presented in Appendix 12.  In terms of what types of employment might be delivered on each site where information was provided in the JCS as submitted or was provided by the site promoters either in Examination statements or during the call for site information undertaken by the JPU over summer 2013, this was used to understand how much and what types of employment might be delivered.

Summary of the appraisal findings

9.4 Table 9.2 at the end of this chapter summarises the SA scores for the 9 strategic employment site options that have been appraised.  The key findings from the SA are summarised by SA objective below.  Several of the SA objectives would not be affected by any of the options due to the nature of the development proposed (i.e. employment development only rather than residential or mixed-use).

SA objective 1: Air quality and noise

9.5 The likely effects of the employment site options on this SA objective are very mixed, particularly in relation to the air quality and noise components of the objective.  The proximity of sites to the M1 motorway is a key factor in determining effects, with several of the sites (the currently  identified site SA28 and alternative sites SA29, SA36/50, SA49 and NBC208) having a potential significant effect in relation to noise because they are adjacent to the motorway, meaning that employees could be affected by traffic noise, particularly in those parts of the sites that abut the M1.  The proximity of those sites to the motorway also indicates that commercial activities in those locations may be more likely to be road-based, with some sites (e.g. SA28 and SA36/50) specifying in the proposals that the site would be used for activities such as distribution or a lorry park.  In these cases, a potential negative effect in relation to sustainable transport is therefore also identified.

9.6 For three of the site options (the currently identified  sites SA28 and SJO1 and alternative site SA31) a minor positive effect is also identified in relation to sustainable transport, forming part of an overall mixed effect, as there is specific information about the proposals at those sites to indicate that sustainable transport use will be integrated into activities at the site.  The currently  identified site SA28 comprises an extension to the existing DIRFT site, which involves handling rail freight, while the proposals for SJO1 (also currently identified in the JCS as submitted) and alternative site SA31 involve providing improved sustainable transport links such as pedestrian routes or improved public transport services.

9.7 Most of the employment sites are not within or adjacent to an AQMA, therefore would have a negligible effect on the air quality component of this objective and mixed effects overall; however two of the alternative site options (SA49 and NBC208) are adjacent to the AQMA that has been designated along part of the M1 motorway.  Those sites are therefore likely to have significant negative effects on this objective as a whole, particularly if commercial activities at those sites were to compound existing air quality problems.

SA objective 2: Archaeology and cultural heritage

9.8 Most of the employment site options are likely to have minor negative effects on cultural heritage as they are in areas that have been classified as being of medium or low sensitivity in terms of cultural heritage, although one of the alternative sites (SA49) is adjacent to a high sensitivity area (the  Collingtree Village Conservation Area to the north east of the site).  It is however noted that the fact that the M1 already lies between the site and the Collingtree Conservation Area could mean that significant effects on its setting are less likely.  In all cases the potential negative effects are uncertain and will require more detailed investigation at the planning application stage when the detailed design and layout of the employment sites would be specified. 

SA objective 3: Biodiversity, flora and fauna

9.9 Most of the employment site options (including the two currently  identified sites) are within 250m of a designated biodiversity site so could have a significant negative effect on this objective.  However, one of the alternative sites (SA36/50) is located more than 250m from any such designations and so a potential minor negative effect is identified for that site.  In all cases, these potential negative effects are uncertain as they will depend on the exact nature and design of the new employment development. 

9.10 It is also recognised that opportunities may exist to enhance biodiversity through appropriate design and the incorporation of biodiversity enhancement measures; therefore a potential minor positive effect in relation to this is also identified for all sites, resulting in mixed effects overall in every case.  The available information about the proposals for each employment site does not in most cases specify whether green infrastructure will be incorporated into the site; therefore most of the potential minor positive effects are currently uncertain.  However, in the case of four of the sites (the currently identified sites SJ01 and alternative sites SA29, SA36/50 and SA31), this information is specified and so the potential minor positive effect is more certain.

SA objective 4: Crime and community safety

9.11 The effects of new employment development on safety, crime and fear of crime will depend on design proposals for the employment sites and factors such as the inclusion of open spaces that are overlooked by buildings to improve safety and security and sufficient lighting.  However, these issues will not be influenced by the location of employment development and will instead be determined though the detailed design proposals for each site which are not yet known.  Therefore, the effects of all employment site options on this objective are negligible. 

SA objective 5: Education and training

9.12 The effect of employment site options on this SA objective will depend on the potential for training opportunities to be provided within the businesses that locate at the site in question, something that cannot usually be determined at this stage.  Therefore, the effects of most employment site options on this SA objective are negligible.  However, the proposals for one of the currently  identified sites (SJO1) include the provision of an education campus and a technical college relating to motorsports within South Northamptonshire District, which would result in a minor positive effect.

SA objective 6: Energy and climatic factors

9.13 While all new employment development is likely to involve an increase in energy consumption over current consumption in West Northamptonshire, new development may offer good opportunities for incorporating renewable energy generation and it is assumed that new development will be built to high standards of energy efficiency.  However, the effects of employment development on efficient energy consumption will not be determined by the location of the development, instead it will be determined though the detailed proposals for each site including the incorporation of renewable energy proposals, which are not yet known. Therefore the effects of all of the employment site options on this SA objective are negligible.

SA objective 7: Health and wellbeing

9.14 Most of the employment site options will have a potential minor positive effect on health and wellbeing as they are near to footpaths/bridleways, which may facilitate active modes of commuting to and from the site.  In most cases there is no information in the specific proposals for the sites about proposals to incorporate new links into the development so the potential positive effects are mainly uncertain.  However, for one of the alternative site options (SA31) this information is provided - the site plan for the development includes a new pedestrian route within the site itself - so the likely effect is more certain.  Three of the alternative site options (SA49, SHLAA SNC49 and SHLAA NBC208) would have mixed overall effects on this objective as they are within close proximity of an AQMA along the M1 which could affect the health of employees in relation to air quality.

SA objective 8: Labour market and economy

9.15 Most of the site options would have a significant positive effect on this objective due to being proposed for employment development and because they are generally close to sustainable transport links such as public footpaths as well as existing residential areas which should make non car-based modes of travel more feasible for commuters.  However, one of the currently  identified sites (SJ01) is likely to have a minor rather than a significant positive effect as although it would provide new employment opportunities and boost the existing contribution that motorsports makes to the local economy, it is known to be poorly linked in terms of existing sustainable transport connections.  A number of the sites have uncertainty attached to the likely significant positive effects as although they are proposed for employment development which would in principle have a positive effect on this objective, it is noted that they are adjacent to the M1 motorway and so employment development there could potentially encourage and facilitate less sustainable commuting patterns.

SA objective 9: Landscape and townscape

9.16 Three of the alternative employment site options (SA29, SA36/50 and SA31) are in areas of high landscape sensitivity; therefore are likely to have a significant negative effect on this objective.  Another alternative site (SA46) is in an area classed as being of medium landscape sensitivity; however it is likely to have an overall significantly negative effect on this SA objective as it would also contribute to settlement coalescence as the small existing area of open land between the western edge of Great Houghton and Brackmills Industrial Estate which is part of the main urban area of Northampton would be filled in.  All of the other sites are likely to have either a minor negative or negligible effect as they are in areas of either medium or low landscape sensitivity and would not result in settlement cohesion.  In all cases, the potential negative effects identified are uncertain as the exact impacts on the landscape will depend on factors relating to the specific design and layout of the new employment development.  Both of the currently  identified sites (SA28 and SJO1) are in areas of low landscape sensitivity so a likely but currently uncertain negligible effect is identified for those sites.

SA objective 10: Material assets

9.17 The development of employment sites will not affect the delivery of high quality housing; therefore all of the employment site options will have a negligible effect on this objective.

SA objective 11: Population

9.18 The development of employment sites will not affect the delivery of services and facilities; therefore all of the employment site options will have a negligible effect on this objective.

SA objective 12: Social deprivation

9.19 The development of employment sites will not affect equal access to social opportunities; therefore all of the employment site options will have a negligible effect on this objective.

SA objective 13: Soil, geology and land use

9.20 All of the employment site options are on mainly or entirely greenfield land and most are on Grade 3 agricultural land; therefore minor negative effects are likely in relation to soil preservation for all of the sites.  One of the alternative site options (SA36/50) is within an area of Category C land in relation to potential land instability issues, which means that slope instability problems may be present or anticipated, and it is recommended that site investigation at the planning application stage should consider specifically the slope stability of the site (it is noted that policy BN10: Ground Instability in the JCS requires ground instability issues to be assessed and addressed prior to development in areas of unstable or potentially unstable land).  Therefore, this site would also have a minor negative effect on land instability.  All of the other options (including the two currently  identified sites) are in Category A or B areas so would have a negligible effect on that part of SA objective 13.

SA objective 14: Waste

9.21 All of the employment site options are likely to have a negligible effect on this objective as they are all either entirely or mainly on greenfield land or comprise some brownfield land but the proposals appear to relate to the undeveloped areas of the site (e.g. the currently   identified site SJO1).  Therefore, potential effects on waste generation would be influenced by the design and use of the development and the incorporation of sustainable waste management measures, rather than by the location of the development. 

SA objective 15: Water

9.22 Most of the employment site options are outside of high flood risk areas and so would have a negligible effect, although one of the alternative sites (SHLAA NBC 208) is likely to have a significant negative effect on this objective as approximately half of this site is located within flood zones 2 and 3 (the northern and eastern areas of the site).  This is linked to the fact that the Grand Union Canal flows through the site.  Another of the alternative site options (SA82) is likely to have a minor negative effect as an area in the western part of this site lies within flood zones 2 and 3 although most of the site is outside of high flood risk areas.

 

 

Table 9.2 Summary table of scores for alternative strategic employment site locations

SA Objectives

SA29

SA36 and SA50

SA46

SA49

SA82

SA28 (DIRFT)

SJO1 (Silverstone)

SHLAA NBC 208

SA31

1.       Air Quality and Noise

--?/0

--?/0

0?/-

--?

0?/-

+/--/0

+/-/0

--

+/-/0

2.       Archaeology and cultural heritage

-?

-?

-?

--?

-?

-?

-?

-?

-?

3.       Biodiversity, flora and fauna

--?/+

-?/+

--?/+?

--?/+?

--?/+?

--?/+?

--?/+

--?/+?

--?/+

4.       Crime and community safety

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

5.       Education and training

0

0

0

0

0

0

+

0

0

6.       Energy and climatic factors

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

7.       Health and wellbeing

+?

+?

+?

+?/-?

+?

+?

0?

+?/-?

+

8.       Labour market and economy

++?

++?

++

++?

++

++?

+

++?

++

9.       Landscape and townscape

--?

--?

--?

-?

-?

0?

0?

0

--?

10.    Material assets

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

11.    Population

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

12.    Social deprivation

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

13.    Soil, geology and land use

-/0

-

-/0

-/0

-/0

0/-

0/-

-/0

-/0

14.    Waste

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

15.    Water

0

0

0

0

-

-

0

--

0

 

Reasons for selecting the preferred alternatives

9.23 Following the SA of the reasonable alternative employment site options, the JPU undertook a wider planning assessment of whether each site should be included in the JCS or not.  This involved considering whether the employment site options complies with the JCS Vision, Objectives and overarching policy S1, taking the SA findings into account, as well as other deliverability issues such as whether the site is available and any infrastructure requirements.  The JPU Planning Assessment is set out in a separate document: “Site Selection Report” (December 2013), but a summary of the JPU’s conclusions regarding whether to select or reject each employment site option from further consideration is provided at the end of Appendix 13 (after the SA matrices for the employment site options).