REJECTED Burnley Bridge Monte Blackburn p planning

Campbell River Partnership Architects had designed the industrial project for Monte Blackburn. Credit: via planning documents

Monte Blackburn loses Burnley appeal

The Issa brothers’ property company had wanted to build three industrial units totalling 108,000 sq ft, but the Planning Inspectorate determined that the proposed buildings were not in compliance with the local plan’s height restrictions.

Monte Blackburn’s project was set on nine acres of brownfield off Magnesium Way in Hapton. The developer acquired the site in 2021 from Leeds-based developer Eshton.

Situated within Burnley Bridge Business Park, the three proposed warehouses would have been close to Junction 9 of the M65.

Outline permission for the project was initially granted in 2016, with a variation to the plan granted in 2020. Neither of these planning approvals had conditions including height limits, according to Monte Blackburn’s planning consultant Freeths.

However, within the 2018 Burnley Local Plan there is a site-specific policy requirement that states that any development on the northern part of the Burnley Bridge Business Park site should have a maximum ridge height of seven metres. This is because there are residential properties nearby, with the local plan arguing that taller buildings would detrimentally impact those living in those homes.

Of the three units proposed by Monte Blackburn, two were set to have a ridge height of more than seven metres.

The tallest and the largest industrial unit would have been 56,300 sq ft with a maximum height of nearly 13 metres. The second tallest warehouse would have been a little more than 11-metres tall, with a gross external area of 37,300 sq ft.

Citing the height issue, Burnley Council rejected Monte Blackburn’s reserved matters application for the industrial units in June 2022.

Freeths argued that the height restriction for the site was flawed and that its buildings would not present an unacceptable level of negative impact on residential amenity.

Planning inspector M J Francis, however, was not moved by Freeths’ arguments. In their decision, the inspector wrote: “I consider that the proposal would cause substantial harm to the living conditions of the occupiers of dwellings that adjoin the site.”

The inspector did acknowledge the potential benefits of the project though, writing “Whilst there are clear economic benefits of developing the site to achieve employment growth, and that there have been expressions of interest in the units, this does not alter my concerns in relation to the overall effect of the proposal on the living conditions of the occupiers of neighbouring dwellings.”

A Burnley Council spokesperson voiced their support for the inspector’s verdict.

“It was reassuring to note that a refusal decision made by the council’s development control committee, with reasons supported by the local plan, was considered sound by the independent planning inspector,” the spokesperson said. “This followed hard work by planning officers in defending the refusal decision during the appeal process.

“The planning inspector’s decision reinforces the importance of the local plan in the decision-making process,” they concluded.

The project’s planning application reference number with Burnley Council is REM/2021/0735. The appeal reference number with the Planning Inspectorate is APP/Z2315/W/22/3302561.

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