4. Employment

Introduction

The Borough suffered substantial job losses in the recessions of the 1980’s and early 1990’s, particularly in the older traditional manufacturing industries. In the recent upturn new investors have been attracted particularly to the new industrial estates at Bermuda and the former Coventry Colliery. The Borough’s excellent location close to the Motorway network means the distribution and warehouse sector has grown considerably. However the Borough has some of the most deprived wards in Warwickshire, the highest unemployment rates and the highest number of people who travel outside the area to work. New jobs are essential to reverse these weaknesses. Advantage West Midlands (a Regional Development Agency financed by Central Government) has identified a large part of the Borough as a Regeneration Zone and has recognised the need to concentrate resources and co-ordinate action to address the problems.  This plan’s policies and proposals will assist that initiative.

The Policies follow guidance in PPG4 Industrial and Commercial Development and Small Firms 1992 and the Regional Spatial Strategy (RSS) for the West Midlands published as Regional Planning Guidance 11 (RPG11) in June 2004. RSS encourages Districts to have a supply of land which is readily capable of development; well served by infrastructure; and in locations that maximise the opportunities for access by means of transport other than by car. Some out-commuting is inevitable given the proximity to the wider range of job opportunities in Birmingham, Coventry and Leicester. The Urban Capacity study has shown that there is limited potential for the use of previously developed land within the urban area for employment. Previously developed land is defined within PPG3 (Housing) and the term is explained within the Glossary to this Plan. There are also considerable problems in finding sites in the west and north of the Borough due to poor transport links and the unattractive location for investors. However, these areas can be linked to opportunities on the major development sites in North Warwickshire and Birmingham. There is also a need to enhance and encourage development in the established industrial estates, particularly Bayton Road Industrial Estate.

The RSS identifies the Solihull / Coventry / Warwick crescent as a corridor for High Technology firms. This recognises the past investment and attractiveness of that area for such uses. The Borough will also try to attract a significant level of high technology business.  Links to the high technology corridor will also be explored, particularly through the Local Transport Plan objective to create and enhance a Stratford to Nuneaton transport corridor.

The Council will also encourage links with the major education / research facilities in Coventry and support local important education establishments such as North Warwickshire and Hinckley College and King Edward VI College. Both of these serve larger catchment areas than the Borough. Enhancement and development in the Town Centres will also provide significant service job opportunities.

The Requirement

The Warwickshire Structure Plan sets a target of 132 hectares of employment land to be developed during the Plan period.

It indicates that 61% of the target should be found on previously developed land and the provision should be split between small and large sites (small sites are defined as sites up to one hectare or capable of being split into one-hectare plots).

Of the 132 hectares some 87 hectares are in ‘the pipeline’ (see policy Emp1) – that is built since 1996, under construction or with planning permission, leaving some 45 hectares to be allocated.  The availability of 16 hectares of land at Judkins, reducing the need for allocations to 29 hectares. Pipeline sites are progressing well.  Of the 87 hectares in the pipeline, some 47 are completed and a further 21 hectares have outline planning permission.  The remainder is either under construction and / or has detailed planning permission.

The Council has rigorously reviewed the land availability position to April 2003 and as a result, a number of amendments to data held on allocations were made.  Details are contained within the Employment Background Paper September 2005 (produced for the second Local Plan Public Inquiry) and have been the subject of consultation and refinement with the County Council.

Existing sites have been extended, for example plots within Attleborough Fields Industrial Estate, and using the gross approach to calculating employment land advocated by the Structure Plan, this land creates additional employment land towards meeting Structure Plan targets.  New plots at Prologis Park have also developed at a rate beyond the original expectation.

The Council has looked at potential sites to meet the Structure Plan target and has judged these against criteria including government guidance; policies in the Local Transport Plan; inclusion in the Coventry and Nuneaton Regeneration Zone; Location and Sustainable Criteria.  Further details are contained within the revised Employment Land Technical Paper 2004 and the Employment Background Paper September 2005.

It is recognised that a large proportion of the Structure Plan target has already been met through the completion of sites or the granting of either outline or detailed planning permission on them.  The tables below illustrate that existing commitments, new allocations and a windfall allowance equate to a land supply that leaves a shortfall of 4.6 hectares against the Structure Plan requirement.  Over the remaining eight years of the Plan (from the 2003 base date through to 2011) this equates to 0.5 hectares per year.  Windfalls are already performing in excess of the allowance, and it is foreseen that this minor shortfall will not be borne out.  The ‘plan, monitor and manage’ approach advocated for land supply and development will be used to maintain a supply of employment Land to meet the WASP and   the Regional Spatial Strategy. Warwickshire County Council accepts this view.

In a Regional context the shortfall of 4.6 hectares is not significant in terms of meeting the Regional Strategy.  The Regional Authority, through the RSS is looking to allocate a sub regional employment site and this could have implications for land supply across the region.  The research and discussion to assess the trends, supply and need for employment land will be addressed at a sub regional level and inform revisions of this Plan.

The allocations include a modest element of windfall, which is based upon past trends, and has been made for sites that provide sustainable employment opportunities.

The redevelopment of vacant land at Griff Clara and Colliery Lane provides opportunities for new employment.  Griff Clara is more significant in size and the site as a whole is estimated to have redevelopment opportunities totalling some 4 hectares.   These will need to be developed alongside existing employment uses on the estate. Hence whilst an allowance of 4 hectares at Griff Clara has been made initially, until site-specific proposals come forward, the whole of Griff Clara has been identified on the Proposals Map as a location for redevelopment opportunities in the region of 4 hectares. The redevelopment of Colliery Lane and Griff Clara are addressed in more detail in Emp4 and 5 respectively.

Monitoring of employment land 

Allocated and windfall sites will monitored each April and contained within an Annual Monitoring Report (AMR) which will be published by the end of December.  The elements monitored are agreed with the County Council and the Regional Authority.  Permissions, construction rates and completions are monitored, and will form the basis of the report with regards to employment.  The windfall rate will be closely followed and adjusted where necessary. Since the revision of the 2001 employment land position reported in the Second Deposit Local Plan, some 3.2 hectares of new windfall employment land has been granted permission, with over half being completed.  It is a trend that is foreseen to continue.  The slight shortfall in meeting the Structure Plan requirement is not considered significant in the context of this evidence.

In the unlikely event that the supply of land identified within the tables below fail to come forward and meet the Structure Plan target, it may be necessary to consider Greenfield windfall sites.  Greenfield windfall sites will be assessed against policy Emp3.  Applicants must demonstrate that based upon targets set by the County Council (or those by the Region, should they supersede the former) that the supply of employment land contained within policy Emp1, together with the evidence of the AMR, suggests that there is a shortfall of suitable sites to meet their proposal.  This demonstrable need must be shown against the shortcomings of existing sites to meet the requirements of the applicant and a particular employment land use proposal. 

Policies and Explanation

Employment Allocations

POLICY Emp1 - Employment Allocations

Industrial and Employment development (falling within the Use Classes of B1, B2 and B8) for 1996-2011 will be accommodated primarily in the following locations, subject to nearby residential amenities not being adversely affected: -

Site
Pipeline: land completed, u/construction or with PP
Land available without permission
Attleborough Fields Industrial Estate
4.49
 
Bayton Road Ind. Est & Paragon Way
2.36
 
Bermuda 1
4.31
 
Bermuda Park
36.67
 
Haunchwood Business Park (1)
1.02
 
Gallagher Business Park
4.12
 
Hemdale Business Park (2)
4.88
 
Prologis Park (3)
19.406
 
Judkins Quarry
  16
Pool Road
0.98
 
Paradise Farm
3.53
 
Vicarage Street
0.44
 
Marston Jabbett
2.737
 
Whitacre Industrial Estate
1.09
 
Shepperton Business Park
0.6
 
King Edward Road, Nuneaton
0.46
 
Justice Centre, Nuneaton
0.651
 
Total area of land (hectares)
87.74
16
  1. Formerly Gallery Common Site
  2. Formerly Attleborough Business Park
  3. Formerly Coventry Colliery
New Allocations Area Available (ha)
Colliery Lane 0.6
Griff Clara 4.1
Camp Hill Urban Village 7
Extension to Prologis Park 4.5
Windfall Allowance 8.3
Total area of land (hectares) 24.5

Development at these locations will provide a good range of sites.  These sites will be developed in accordance with policies in the Plan and other Council adopted Supplementary Planning Guidance and / or Supplementary Planning Documents.

Judkins

POLICY Emp2 - Judkins

Some 16 hectares of land at Judkins, Tuttle Hill are allocated for Industrial purposes.  Development will be in accordance with a revised Development Brief to be produced as a Supplementary Planning Document (SPD). 

The Nuneaton & Bedworth Borough Local Plan 1993 allocated some 32 hectares for employment purposes at Judkins.  Changes in the ownership of the site, together with changes in the landfill operations have meant that this was not developed.  There is land surplus to the landfill operation which is now available for development.

The site is a very sustainable site adjacent to the areas of most need in the Borough.  However, development here could add to transport accessibility problems with any traffic movements going into or close to Nuneaton Town Centre.  For this reason B8 uses would not be considered on the site.  Highways improvements to the local network will be required and be funded by the development.  The developer and users of the site will be expected to demonstrate how sustainable transport, particularly links to the adjacent railway and canal, will be encouraged.

A revised Judkins Quarry Development Brief will guide the development and will identify the area to be developed within the surplus land at the site.  The Development Brief will be subject to public participation as a Supplementary Planning Document.

Redevelopment of Existing Sites or new Windfall Sites

POLICY Emp3 - Redevelopment of Existing Sites or new Windfall Sites

Proposals for the redevelopment of existing industrial and commercial areas for employment purposes or new windfall sites will be permitted if the following criteria can be met:

  1. It provides a beneficial use of derelict, waste or under-utilised land.
  2. In the case of a Greenfield windfall site, it can be demonstrated that all suitable brownfield sites are undeliverable.
  3. It protects the amenities of any nearby residential properties.
  4. It is consistent with other policies in the Local Plan.
  5. Sufficient off-street car parking and servicing are available in accordance with the Council’s adopted standards (see Policy T10).
  6. There would be no adverse impact on the free flow or safety of traffic on the adjacent highway.
  7. High standard of design and landscaping is provided.
  8. There would be no significant loss of mature landscaping, geological features or wildlife habitats or species, or features of historic or archaeological interest.

The Borough has several older industrial areas often located close to residential areas. They often have poor access to the main road network, outdated and unattractive buildings and sometimes a lack of car parking and servicing facilities. Redevelopment of such areas will be encouraged provided the above criteria can be met.  There may be other sites, particularly on previously developed sites, which may be suitable for employment sites in sustainable locations.

Previous use of sites may have resulted in ground contamination. Where this is likely, appropriate site investigations and risk assessments should be carried out and appropriate remediation measures completed prior to the redevelopment of the site. Redevelopment of sites close to residential properties will need to demonstrate significant environment improvements for existing residents.

Colliery Lane

POLICY Emp4 - Colliery Lane

Redevelopment of the site off Colliery Lane as shown on the proposals map will be encouraged for uses within Classes B1 and B8 (of the Town and Country Planning Use Classes Order).    A landscaped bund will be required on the boundary with adjacent residential properties. 

Further development of this land is restricted because of the unmade track from Colliery Lane. A comprehensive redevelopment of the area is required including a metalled access road (to adoptable standards) to Colliery Lane.  No piecemeal development will be permitted.

Previous use of the site may have resulted in ground contamination. An appropriate site investigation and risk assessment should be carried out and appropriate remediation measures completed prior to the redevelopment of the site. Archaeological remains have been found in this area and an evaluation will be required which should identify any necessary mitigation measures.

Griff Clara

POLICY Emp5 - Griff Clara

Redevelopment of the Griff Clara site will be encouraged for uses within B1, B2 and B8 (of the Town & Country Planning Use Classes Order). 

This site is adjacent to and gains access from Bermuda Park Industrial Estate.  Redevelopment would enable a more beneficial use of under-utilised land. Previous use of the site may have resulted in ground contamination.  A site investigation will be required which should identify any necessary mitigation measures.  There may be features of archaeological and nature conservation importance.  An evaluation will be required which should identify any necessary mitigation measures.  A landscaping buffer will be required on the southern boundary to protect the setting and environment for Griff Lodge Farm.  B2 uses will not be permitted within 100 metres of any residential properties. 

Office Development

POLICY Emp6 - Office Development

Office development falling within Class A2 (Financial and Professional Services) will be permitted in Town, District and Local Centres.  Office development falling within Class B1 (Business) will be allowed in Town Centres, District Centres and on Industrial Estates. 

Offices form an integral part of Town and District Centres and add to the vitality and viability of these areas. A2 uses often serve local need and will therefore be allowed in local centres.   B1 office uses are appropriate on industrial estates, especially as they are often in high quality buildings in prominent locations. 

Uses in residential areas

POLICY Emp7 - Uses in Residential Areas

New or the expansion of existing commercial uses and mixed uses within residential areas will be permitted if the following criteria can be met:

  1. The scale of activity will not result in residential amenities being adversely affected.
  2. There would be no detrimental increase in the number and sizes of cars and / or commercial vehicles.
  3. There would be no adverse impact on the free flow or safety of traffic on the adjacent public highway.

There are many small and older businesses located within residential areas. Many of these may wish to expand or redevelop rather than relocate to Industrial Estates.

Where the area is mainly in residential use the priority will be to protect the amenities of residents. This may be achieved by using planning conditions to limit the hours of operation and the amount of on-site car parking.  Any new use or expansion will be expected to meet the above criteria.  Mixed uses within residential areas will be encouraged as these contribute to sustainable communities.

POLICY Emp8 - C1, C2 and D1 uses in Residential Areas

New developments for, or changes of use to C1 (Hotels), C2 (Residential Institutions) and D1 (Non- Residential Institutions) will be permitted within or adjacent to residential areas if the following criteria can be met:

  1. The type and scale of activity will not result in residential amenities being adversely affected.
  2. There would be no increase in cars and / or commercial vehicles parked on adjoining streets.
  3. There would be no adverse impact on the free flow or safety of traffic on the adjacent public highway.

Uses falling within these uses classes are considered acceptable uses within residential areas, subject to meeting the criteria.

Planning Obligations

POLICY Emp9 - Planning Obligations

The Council will seek appropriate planning obligations to meet any increased demand for social, community and public transport services and facilities that arise directly from the development.  Green Travel Plans may also be required (see Policy T3). 

Negotiations between developers, the Council and where appropriate the County Council will seek to secure appropriate facilities identified in Development Briefs or other Supplementary Planning Guidance and Supplementary Planning Documents.

Community contribution may, where appropriate, include a contribution to sporting/leisure provision or the mitigation or enhancement of nature conservation features.

Use of Residential Properties

POLICY Emp10 - Use of Residential Properties

Change of use of part of residential properties to B1 use to enable working from home will be permitted if the following criteria can be met:

  1. The scale of activity will not result in the residential amenities of the area being adversely affected particularly by noise and disturbance at unsocial hours.
  2. The scale of activity would not result in any increase in cars or other vehicles being parked at the residential property or within the surrounding streets.
  3. There would be no significant increase in traffic flows along local roads.

Many small businesses can be started from home without the need for planning permission. PPG4 states that “ permission is not normally required where the use of part of a dwelling house for business purposes does not change the overall character of the property’s use as a single dwelling”.

However, if activities intensify and change the character of the dwelling, a B1 use will be permitted if the above criteria are met.  This will help to cut down on journeys to work.  Changes of use from residential to uses in Classes A2 or B2 are not likely to be permitted.

Design and Car Parking Standards

POLICY Emp11 - Design and Car Parking Standards

A high standard of design for new commercial development will be expected in accordance with site specific Development Briefs or Supplementary Planning Guidance / documents on Commercial Design. Contributions to off site works will be required through legal agreements. 

In considering development proposals regard will be had to guidance in site specific development briefs and / or relevant supplementary guidance / documents which will be prepared in consultation with the general public and interested stakeholders.  Developers should be aware at the earliest possible stage of the design and car parking standards expected for new development. The guidance for example, will set out standards for the design of buildings including size; height; siting; acceptable materials; layout and maintenance of the site; facilities for car parking; cycle and pedestrian facilities; servicing; landscaping; boundary treatment; and energy conservation measures including recycling facilities. 

POLICY Emp12 - Hazardous Substances

Proposals for development involving the storage, processing or manufacture of hazardous substances in notifiable amounts will be assessed against the following criteria:

  1. The distance from other existing uses.
  2. Access arrangements and the suitability of the highway network to cater for traffic associated with the proposal.
  3. The adequacy of controls over discharges of dangerous or hazardous substances and of the arrangements for the monitoring of those discharges.

The use and storage of Hazardous Substances require special consideration to ensure there is no adverse environmental impact.

There is one existing firm with deemed consent to store hazardous materials (St. Georges Way, Bermuda).  The Health & Safety Executive has set a consultation zone around the site which means the Executive is consulted on any significant developments within that zone.  There are tight recommendations over new developments or uses within that zone - sensitive development, such as residential, educational, health, or leisure will not normally be permitted.  Further sites granted consent by the Health and Safety Executive will have similar consultation zones, the size of which will depend on the type and amount of material stored.

Given that the Borough is primarily an urban area where there are not great distances to existing residential areas it is unlikely that new storage or processing facilities for hazardous materials will be permitted.

Prison Development

POLICY Emp13 - Prison Development

The proposed development of a prison within the Borough will be assessed against the following criteria:

  1. It can be demonstrated that the Borough offers the most strategic location for the development, in a regional and sub regional context.
  2. It can be demonstrated that there is a need for the development and that this cannot be met outside of the Borough.
  3. The development is compatible with other Plan policies – (sites for a prison will not be appropriate within the Green Belt) and in particular that:
    1. it should be located where possible on previously developed land, within the urban area;
    2. where such a site cannot be found in the urban area, the applicant must demonstrate that a sustainable sequential approach towards location of the development has been applied;
    3. it does not have an unacceptable impact on the environmental quality of the area.
  4. It is compatible with neighbouring land uses.
  5. There is good access to the public highway and public transport links.
  6. There is good access for employees to local services and facilities.
  7. There are well-defined boundaries with extensive landscaping, embankments and planting. 

The Midlands has been identified as an area of priority for new prisons during the next ten years.  The Council will work with HM Prison Service, with the Regional Planning Body and other partners at a regional level, and with Districts within the sub-region of Coventry, Solihull and Warwickshire to identify an appropriate location that meet the needs of the Prison Service.

Circular 03/98 Planning for Future Prison Development identifies the Midlands as one of the four priority areas for new prison development. The Prison Services require a site in the region of 8 – 16 hectares, which is a regular shape, level and not overlooked.  The Borough is a compact urban area and to this extent finding a site to meet these criteria may prove difficult.

The Circular states that the Prison Service will consult with Local Authorities about future need.  The Council believes that projects of this scale are of national importance and will seek to work at a regional level with the Prison Service and regional partners and identify at a regional level where an appropriate location might be.  Should a proposal be forthcoming within the Plan period for a prison within the Borough, the above criteria will be used in the assessment of that proposal.

These criteria seek to ensure that a location meets both the needs of the Prison Service and those of the Borough; ensuring a strategic approach is applied, that sequentially, previously developed sites within the urban areas are explored prior to greenfield sites and that development are compatible with other policies within the Plan.  A development of this scale is likely to have a major impact on facilities, services, the economy and transport infrastructure within the Borough and these factors have been the basis for the criteria within this policy.

Protecting Employment Land

POLICY Emp14 - Protecting Employment Land

Redevelopment or change of use of existing and committed employment land and buildings (B1, B2 and B8 uses) for other uses will  only be permitted if:

  1. It can be demonstrated that there is no longer a need and that alternative employment uses cannot be attracted over the plan period, or that they would be economically unviable, or
  2. the location or expansion of the existing employment use would have an
    unacceptable adverse impact upon neighbouring residential occupiers.

Provided that:

It can also be demonstrated that the proposed redevelopment or change of use would satisfy sustainability indicators/criteria identified in the relevant policies of the Plan, and that it would not undermine the policy strategy set out in the Regional Spatial Strategy, and is consistent with all other policies in the Local Plan. 

Policy Emp14 is supported by Technical Paper 2: Urban Capacity Study (March 2003), Technical Paper 3: Assessment of Possible Employment Sites (updated to March 2003) and an updated Employment Background Paper (September 2005).

The Council is concerned that existing industrial sites and premises are being promoted on a scale for redevelopment that has contributed to the difficulty in finding suitable employment land to meet the Structure Plan targets. The emphasis in PPG3 (Housing) has added to the pressure, suggesting that previously developed land is suitable for housing, and further, encouraging the reassessment of employment land allocations which may lie undeveloped within a Plan area.  It is essential to maintain and encourage sustainable communities, that employment opportunities remain localised and reduce the need to travel.  In many cases there are no overriding reasons why a vacant employment site cannot continue to be reused by other companies through adaptation, redevelopment or simply re-occupancy.  Business uses should be retained on site unless a clear justification is made for its loss.

An Employment Land Review is currently being undertaken by the Council to reflect the recent revision to PPG3 (new paragraph 42(a) and Guidance Note “Employment Land Reviews” (2004)). The review may trigger changes to policy Emp14 and this will be issued as new guidance as required. Such guidance will be subject to public consultation.

Tourism Development

POLICY Emp15 - Tourism Development

Tourism related development will be permitted where:

  1. It does not harm the quality of the surrounding built and natural environment, and
  2. the development is within the urban area and is readily accessible by foot, cycle and public transport, and
  3. the proposed development will not have an unacceptable adverse impact upon neighbouring residential occupiers.

Tourism development can make a significant contribution to the local economy and is encouraged within the urban area, particularly where it can contribute towards urban regeneration.  The success of local tourism development depends to an extent on the quality of the built and natural environment, and where historic areas and buildings are particularly popular.  The George Eliot legacy, the Abbey Church, the town’s history of rope making and mining all reflect the Borough’s heritage. 

Visitor accommodation and attractions such as hotels, conferencing venues and cultural facilities are recognised within PPS6 as development to which the policy of sequential testing applies.  Developments should be within the urban area, focussing on town centres before other existing centres, edge-of-centres and finally out-of-centre locations.  This approach maximises the potential use of previously developed land, public transport links and complements other existing uses including retail and business associated with the visitor economy.

Rural tourism does contribute towards diversification within the rural economy.  Farm shops for example retailing locally sourced produce, or encouraging farmhouses to diversify into bed and breakfast are ways that the countryside can contribute to tourism in the Borough.  Countryside tourism, notably in the Green Belt or other protected areas however, must be sympathetic to the aspects of these areas, which warranted their initial protection.  Their openness, rural character and the strategic function of the Green Belt must not be undermined by tourism related development that conflicts with other policies within the Plan.  In addition, public transport links into the countryside to serve tourism related development must be demonstrated by applicants for proposals which would otherwise generate car-borne visitors in numbers likely to have a significant adverse effect on the rural road network, on living conditions in the locality or on the local environment.

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