Policy E2: Other Employment Sites
Support will be given to the development of the following sites including the fullest utilisation of existing buildings and unused space and land at:
- Providence Row – Old Sorting Office site for classes A2 (Financial and Business Services), and B1 (Business – Offices); and
- Fowler’s Yard (Durham’s Arts Quarter) including craft workshops, creative spaces and associated sales and services; and
- Blagdon Depot, Frankland Lane for uses that do not conflict with the NPPF Green Belt exception criteria, subject to a flood risk sequential test and that any development of the site has a limited impact on the surrounding area.
Support will be given to the development of windfall brownfield sites in Our Neighbourhood for mixed use office and business enterprises and residential, including units for older people, young professionals and families with children.
4.137 Details of the sites (shown in Proposals Map 5) are as follows:
- Site E2.1: Providence Row old sorting office – the area for development is located outside the functional floodplain but is in Flood Risk Zone 3a where a high probability of flooding exists and therefore appropriate infrastructure and design measures will be required and have to meet the requirements of heritage Policy H2.2, and promote sustainable development as set out in sustainability Policy S1. Development proposals for this site should undertake a site-specific flood risk assessment, a sequential test and an environmental assessment to include the impact on, and the protection of, green assets as set out in green infrastructure Policy G1. Mature trees around the site should be retained.
- Site E2.2: Fowler’s Yard – an area already thriving as independent craft workshops, creative spaces and associated retail sales and services It is greatly appreciated as such and worthy of safeguarding against uses that would reduce its unique appeal as a creative space for local artists and practitioners.
- Site E2.3: Blagdon Depot – is located in the Green Belt. Only proposals that meet the NPPF exceptions criteria for development in the Green Belt (NPPF para. 143 to 147) would be acceptable. Retain mature vegetation around the site. The site is in Flood Risk Zone 2 and therefore appropriate infrastructure and design measures will be required and have to meet the requirements of heritage Policy H2.2, and promote sustainable development as set out in sustainability Policy S1. Development proposals for this site should undertake a site-specific flood risk assessment, a sequential test and an environmental assessment to include the impact on, and the protection of, green assets as set out in green infrastructure Policy G1.
Justification for Policies E1 and E2
4.138 Businesses and residents have requested more land for commercial use: the sites allocated in Policies E1 and E2 are the only suitable land available in Our Neighbourhood which could be used for this purpose. To improve the economy of Durham City it is important to encourage new employment opportunities and to safeguard and assist expansion of existing businesses within the area. A good variety of serviced employment sites will help to attract new businesses, and making available underused space as offices for established businesses will increase the employment opportunities for local people, attract new employees from outside the area, and encourage the retention of graduates from Durham University. New employment opportunities within the City will increase the numbers of people who use the City, and will also strengthen the relationship between local business and Durham University.
4.139 In accordance with guidance in the NPPF (para. 117) commercial development will be directed to brownfield sites. In satisfying the sustainable design principles of Our Neighbourhood Plan, new development will avoid unacceptable impacts on local, national and international designations and physical constraints such as flood risk and topography. These considerations are also included within the emerging County Durham Local Plan. So far as flood risk is concerned, it would be highly desirable to have all brownfield employment sites located in Zone 1 (low probability of flooding). Whilst the majority of the Neighbourhood Plan sites meet that standard, there are three that fall within Zone 2 (medium probability of flooding) or Zone 3 (high probability of flooding). Retention of these three sites is proposed because they possess established use rights and new buildings can be designed such that occasional flooding of the ground floors is operationally acceptable.
4.140 Windfall brownfield sites which become available should be used to improve the economy in Our Neighbourhood by providing office space for A2 Professional Services and B1 Business as there is a shortage of office space as evidenced by the business professionals who were interviewed during the initial consultation for Our Neighbourhood Plan. Accommodation on these sites will be considered in Our Neighbourhood for local housing needs where there is a shortage and particularly for those in need as defined by the NPPF (para. 61); the elderly, those with disabilities, families and young professionals as there is evidence of a shortfall of this type of housing in Theme 4: A City with attractive and affordable places to live. However the evidence indicates that there is an ample supply of student accommodation in Our Neighbourhood (see table of ‘large student residences’ on the Durham City Neighbourhood Plan website https://npf.durhamcity.org.uk/themes/housing/large-student-residences/) enough to meet all future student residential needs and therefore windfall brownfield sites should not be considered for student housing.
Proposals Map 5: Economic Designated Sites
Next section: Policy E3: Retail Development and Policy E4: Evening Economy