Royal London fights green belt reversal proposal

A public inquiry is due to be held next week into plans by Trafford Council to put the former employment site Davenport Green back into green belt.

The hearing next week is the second part of the Planning Inspectorate's examination of Trafford Council's statutory core strategy for development for the next few years.

At the first part of the hearing in February, Davenport Green landowner Royal London Asset Management said the council had not shown sufficient evidence that there was no longer economic need for the site to be reserved for employment use.

The council wants to guard against the possibility of traffic congestion if the 335 acre site is built out and avoid the "permanent loss of a greenfield area".

Instead, the council wants to direct development to other parts of the borough including Trafford Park industrial estate, Carrington and land along the Manchester Ship Canal.

Royal London told the planning inspector in February that there was a pressing need for new business space in the area and it would introduce bus services and improve links with the M56 as part of any development.

Next week, Royal London will argue that the recent allocation of enterprise zone status for the proposed Airport City business park at Manchester Airport places nearby Davenport Green in a prime position for grow-on space in the future, something which Trafford should seek to capitalise on.

Conservative-controlled Trafford is expected to argue that expansion of the airport means Davenport Green should be held back as a green buffer to surrounding development.

The net developable area at Davenport Green is 90 acres; the rest would be turned into a country park by Royal London. The land was one of the North West Development Agency's strategic sites until 2009, the same year that a planning consent for 500,000 sq ft of headquarters premises lapsed. Royal London bought the site outright in 2009 from joint venture partner Amec.

Gareth Dickinson, RLAM's Head of Property said in a statement: "RLAM's Davenport Green site is exceptionally well located within an 'arc of regeneration' across south Manchester. We are excited by the possibilities presented by the new Enterprise Zone, which will kick-start inward investment in this area. RLAM is actively engaging with stakeholders to see how it can help with this process."

Nick Gerrard, corporate director for economic growth and prosperity, said: "Land at Davenport Green is identified in the Council's emerging Core Strategy to be returned to Green Belt. We are also currently considering the potential impact of the recently announced Greater Manchester Enterprise Zone before the Core Strategy examination resumes, and in doing so are consulting with key interested parties."

Talks are ongoing between both sides to do a deal before the hearing, due to take place from 25 to 27 May.

Knight Frank advises Royal London.

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Clearly this land is not viable or suitable for employment use. Original planning consent was granted in 1996 for 500k sq ft office development. Between 1997 and 2007 the biggest economic and property boom in a generation happened with absolutley no development at all on this site. If it wasnt suitable for development during that decade then given the economic forecasts it will not be developed in the next two decades. I fully support the Councils approach to regenerate Carrington and Partington given that this is where jobs are most needed.


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