Penrith Industrial Estate

Eden knocks back 100,000 sq ft Penrith employment site

Charlie Schouten

Going against officer recommendation, Eden Council’s planning committee has refused an application to build an eight-acre industrial estate on the outskirts of Penrith.

The outline application covers a green field plot off Mile Lane in Redhills, just outside Penrith.

While the site is not allocated for development under Eden’s Local Plan, according to consultant WYG, the site could accommodate around 100,000 sq ft of employment, industrial, and distribution space.

Despite the lack of allocation, the council said it would give “favourable consideration” to any industrial proposals on unallocated sites near Penrith, given the current land constraints at Eden Business Park.

In the planning officers’ report, the council’s economic development team said there were “few options of readily developable land to offer businesses who are looking to start or grow,” and added the team “regularly struggles to provide options to businesses who make enquiries” to the council.

The representative from the economic development team added: “The only exception to this is for the Junction 41 site, for which I understand there has been a lot of interest, demonstrating the pent-up demand. An alternative offer which also has good transport connections would be a benefit in being able to attract new businesses to the area and create new jobs.”

The scheme had been recommended for approval by planning officers; although concerns over the rural nature of the site and the ecological impacts of building on the agricultural land, and the fact the site is not allocated within the Local Plan, officers said the benefits of building the employment site would outweigh this potential harm.

Officers said: “This site would indeed provide an alternative to the Junction 41 site and ensure that further support for businesses was available. The site’s limited negative impacts make it an attractive site worthy of support particularly when the significant economic benefits this site can offer are also taken into account.”

However, this argument failed to sway the planning committee, which voted to refuse the proposals at a meeting on 15 August, citing concerns over its impact on the highways network and the rural character of the area.

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As Planning Committees these days seem to routinely ignore recommendations from Planning Officers – their own paid experts – why don’t Local Authorities simply re-deploy all their Planning Officers and let the Committees deal with planning? I appreciate that this suggestion is as ridiculous as Committees consistently ignoring Officer recommendations!!!!!

By David Sleath