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NIS UPDATE 16 October 2006
AWE Major Planning Application for Offices
The MoD has made a new planning application for the AWE site on 09/10/06. It is a major scheme, integral to the new developments and recruitment drive at AWE. Details of the planning process are given on page 4, but the application is as follows:
Proposed new office accommodation (circa 21,000 m²) plus associated landscaping including water features. Car park for circa 1,500 vehicles plus associated landscaping and access. Construction related infrastructure including access road, car parking, reception building, gate house, facilities management building, wheel washing facilities, use of land for construction compound, fencing gates and ancillary facilities.
This is the first AWE major planning application submitted by the MoD since the Orion laser plan was agreed by West Berks council (WBC) in January this year. The Proposed new office accommodation, unusually is described in square metres as ‘cira 21,000 m².’ The more usual format would be 226,042.11 sq ft. (1 sq metre = 10.7639104 sq feet). Taking 140 people per square foot as a guide (historical allocations of 140 – 190 sq ft are now reducing to 120 -130 sq ft per person), the building could house over 1,600 workers. Since an actual figure for the car park spaces is not given, it may exceed 1,500 spaces. This application does not come with any associated documents to defend it, and the office block marks a huge increase in staff capacity. A team of 23 recruiters are working to advertise jobs across the board according to the August edition of AWE’s in-house magazine, ‘AWE Today’. Increase in staff is expected to reach 1000 plus 1200 extra contractors.
No Crown Immunity
The Local Planning Authority are now the determining authority as there is no longer any Crown Immunity. This means that the application can be refused, just as the development plan on the other side of Paices Hill has been refused for housing
Grounds for objection are given below. Please write to WBC at the address, e-mail or website below as soon as possible. There is no doubt that the proposed office block is central to the expansion of the AWE operation to provide the capacity for building a new generation of nuclear warheads at this site. Thee closing date fro Objections is: 1/11/06.
All four examples of grounds for objection listed in the SCI below will apply to the office block:
- Contrary to the Development Plan – see Spatial Policy 11: Rural West Berkshire
- Appearance – dominant size on A340 in addition to huge laser building
- Traffic – car park indicates significant increase in traffic on approach roads
- Amenity – extension of built area where sky is the present view from A340
Statement of Community Involvement (SCI)
The SCI was adopted by the Council on 27th July 2006 and is part of the Local Development Framework (LDF) for the whole of the District. It sets out how the community will be engaged in the preparation of local development documents (LDDs) and in the determination of planning applications in the District. A list of grounds on which to object to a plan are given:
EXAMPLES OF VALID PLANNING GROUNDS
Contrary to Development Plan (Structure Plan or Local Plan)
Appearance (design, materials etc)
Traffic, parking or access problems
Residential amenity (noise, overshadowing, overlooking)
Effect on setting of Listed Building or character of Conservation Area
EXAMPLES OF INVALID PLANNING GROUNDS
Devaluation of property
Loss of view
Possibility of future problems (eg use of property)
Hours of Work and damage during construction
Business issues relating to the applicant
Possible fire hazard
Contended legal rights eg ownership
Errors of notification
West Berkshire Planning Strategy Submission
In addition to the SCI, a new WBC Planning Strategy Plan is in preparation.
The West Berkshire Planning Strategy was submitted to the Secretary of State on 22nd September 2006. Representations are invited by 3rd November 2006. If you wish to comment please use the WBC website – Although it is not always working! http://www.westberks.gov.uk/index.aspx?articleid=7840.
NIS will ask why there is no published policy on AWE, as a major employer and extensive hazardous site in the district. Many other employers and particular sites are referred to individually, whereas the hazardous nature of the site and the surrounding 3 Km countermeasure zone are ignored.
Quotations from the Strategy Plan
5. West Berkshire is home to a number of high profile organisations including AWE, Vodafone, Panasonic and Bayer and also a multitude of small and medium sized businesses.
2.44 To the south is the town of Tadley, which has, with its adjoining settlements a population of about 16,000 and is situated just outside the district within Basingstoke and Deane Borough. The town is located very close to the Atomic Weapons Establishment headquarters, which is north of the county boundary in West Berkshire.
|Objective E||To help maintain a strong, diverse and sustainable
economic base in West Berkshire
The West Berkshire District Local Plan identified a number of Employment Areas 31 which comprise existing agglomerations of industrial premises which were to be retained for employment uses. Those sites remain capable of redevelopment, and, where appropriate, intensification to allow business to develop modern premises. Having regard to these opportunities for redevelopment and the prevailing level of planning permissions for use classes B1, B2 and B8, it is considered that a spatial strategy based on making best use of existing sites is appropriate in West Berkshire until 2026.
Spatial Policy 11
Rural West Berkshire
The overall approach to development with rural West Berkshire is that development should be generally restrained in order to protect the rural character of the area whilst allowing for development which supports the continued well being of the countryside and rural settlements.
WBC Planning Committee has triggered an Public Inquiry in February 2007 into the suitability of land opposite AWE for house building (see earlier October Update.) If WBC wants expert advice on whether or not AWE is expanding and extending its operation, the current AWE application provides an excellent opportunity to do so. If planning consent were refused, AWE could appeal, and a Public Inquiry held for a Planning Inspector to examine the facts.
AWE Major Office Accommodation
Application Number: 06/02326/FULMAJ Application Date: 09/10/06
KEY DATE: Expiry Date for Objections: 1/11/06
Details: AWE Aldermaston Paices Hill Aldermaston Reading Berkshire RG7 4PR Proposed new office accommodation (circa 21,000 m²) plus associated landscaping including water features. Car park for circa 1,500 vehicles plus associated landscaping and access. Construction related infrastructure including access road, car parking, reception building, gate house, facilities management building, wheel washing facilities, use of land for construction compound, fencing gates and ancillary facilities.
Date Application Received: 09.10.06 Date Application Validated:09.10.96
Target Date: 09/01/07 Actual Committee Date: No details
Neighbour Consultations sent on: 10/10/06
Standard Consultations sent on: 11/10/06Expiry Date for Standard Consultations: 1/11/06
Last Advertised on: 19/10/06 Expiry Date for Latest Advertisement: 01/11/06
Latest Site Notice posted on: Expiry Date for Latest Site Notice: No details
Overall Expiry Date 01/11/06
MOD Defence Estates
Clive Inwards firstname.lastname@example.org
Principal Planning Officer Tel: 01635-519111
West Berkshire Council Fax: 01635-519408
Newbury RG14 5LD