Friday, May 29, 2020

Green light for energy park could unlock road improvements worth £200m

A multi-million pound programme of improvements on one of Hull’s main roads will be implemented if plans for a £200m energy park are given the green light by planners.

The team behind the proposed Yorkshire Energy Park development has revealed major traffic improvements and flood resilience measures that will be implemented if plans are approved by East Riding of Yorkshire Council’s planning committee.

The developers will be legally committed to deliver the multi-million pound programme of improvements to the A1033, which will include additional lanes and signaling to five junctions. The improvements will be delivered before the full business park becomes operational.

Under the plans, new footpaths and cycle paths will be delivered to improve access to Preston South and Hedon, encouraging footfall to local shops and restaurants in a bid to increase trade. A financial contribution will also be made to upgrade the South Holderness Rail Trail, a cycle path which runs between Hull and Holderness.

In addition to the physical measures, a Travel Plan Coordinator will be appointed to actively monitor and act on transport assessments, run initiatives to encourage more sustainable  methods of travel and establish a cycle user group, lift sharing and walk to work schemes.

The latest points set out under the plans come as Highways England, the government-owned company charged with operating, maintaining and improving England’s motorways and major A roads, clarified its improved position for East Riding of Yorkshire Council to the proposed Yorkshire Energy Park.

In a letter on East Riding of Yorkshire Council’s planning portal, Highways England said: “It can be concluded that at this stage that the principles of what is trying to be secured for the application are appropriate.

“We  are  not  currently  in  a  position  to  formally  lift  our  holding recommendation. However, we are sufficiently comfortable that the application can now be taken to planning committee.”

This confirmation from Highways England means that the detailed conditions can be addressed after a planning committee decision is made, which is standard practice for schemes of this scale at an outline planning stage.

The letter from Highways England continues: “Should the committee be minded to approve the application, it can then be deferred to officers to formally approve, who will then work towards agreeing the Conditions and Section 106.  Once these are agreed then Highways England will be in a position to replace the current holding recommendation with a recommendation that should planning permission be granted with conditions attached.”

In addition to highways improvements, improved land drainage will be put in place, with the developed area of the Park storing enough surface water to withstand a one in 100-year rainfall event, as well as 40% climate change, through a network of ponds created on site.

The outline drainage strategy has been developed and approved with the Environment Agency, East Riding of Yorkshire Council and the Internal Drainage Board (IDB).

The proposed development on the site of the former Hedon Aerodrome will attract significant inward investment, with the ability to create up to 4,480 jobs, including up to 2,090 full time jobs across a wide range of business sectors once the Park is built and operational.

If planning permission is granted by East Riding of Yorkshire’s Council’s Planning Committee, Yorkshire Energy Park will include an energy centre, data centre and disaster recovery suite, space for established and start-up businesses, education, training and research facilities alongside associated short-stay accommodation, an outdoor building materials and testing facility, and sports facilities for the community.

The clarification of Highways England’s position on the scheme follows Natural England’s formal withdrawal of its objection to the proposed scheme earlier this month. Natural England is the public body which ensures the natural environment is conserved, enhanced and managed for present and future generations.

Claire Harrison, Project Director for Yorkshire Energy Park, said: “We fully acknowledge that any major development and job creation of this scale will inevitably increase traffic.

“We have worked with Highways England and both local authority teams for a number of years to ensure these plans are robust and do not have a negative impact on such a strategically important road network.

“The highways plans not only take into account the proposed Yorkshire Energy Park development, but also other potential developments which will bring increased traffic; they are futureproofed for at least seven years.”

The site proposed for the development of the Yorkshire Energy Park, which is in the heart of the UK’s Energy Estuary, is the only available area on the north bank of the Humber where a presence of a significant connection to the National Grid exists, alongside a piped natural fuel supply already on the site.

Due to this unique set up, reliable energy can be provided to businesses on the energy park at significantly less than market rates. Energy can also be sold back to the Grid.

Major businesses already interested in what the energy park has to offer include E.ON Germany, Asanti Data Centres, Dell, SSE, leading battery manufacturer BYD, electric scooter consortium Eco Motion. Infrastructure funder Legal & General has also come out in support of the scheme as well as the backing of Humber Local Enterprise Partnership , the region’s biggest business body, Warwick Manufacturing Group and Hull College Group.

East Riding of Yorkshire Council will also benefit from £3.5m of business rates per year, once the Park is fully operational.

The Yorkshire Energy Park scheme is expected to be determined by East Riding of Yorkshire Council’s Planning Committee in the coming weeks.

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