Why is there a need for an International Advanced Manufacturing Park?
There is an identified need for land to promote economic growth within South Tyneside and Sunderland, particularly in the automotive, off-shore and other hi-tech industries to build on the region's track record for manufacturing and exports.
What are the potential benefits?
Both South Tyneside and Sunderland have increasing unemployment levels above the regional and national averages. This opportunity is expected to create at least 5,200 new manufacturing jobs by 2027, with more than 500 new jobs being created every year from 2018. A further 3,700 jobs are anticipated by 2031. Therefore it could significantly improve economic opportunities to residents and improve levels of prosperity.
Why are we considering this specific part of South Tyneside (in addition to land with Sunderland) for this type of development?
This part of the borough benefits from not only being in close proximity to Nissan, where there is evidenced demand for economic growth, but it also has excellent transport links provided by the surrounding Strategic Road Network. This area of South Tyneside and land to the south in Sunderland have been identified as an area with the potential for strong economic growth. In the first instance, land within the more urban areas of both local authorities have also been considered, however their distance from the Nissan Plant and Strategic Road Network, as well as their relatively smaller size, have ultimately meant that the area being considered is the most appropriate and offers the most opportunity.
How big could the International Advanced Manufacturing Park be and will it include my land?
At this stage the ultimate size and location of the potential site is unknown and will be dependent on a range of economic, social and environmental factors. The impact of such a development upon the Green Belt will be a key consideration.
This part of the Borough is Green Belt, so isn't it protected?
Contrary to popular perception, Green Belts are not sacrosanct. Councils are required to keep Green Belt boundaries under review as part of the preparation of their Local Plans. The needs to provide for future housing and employment land requirements, both for the forthcoming plan period and beyond, may justify the 'exceptional circumstances' necessary for amending boundaries to enable sustainable growth to happen.
The Green Belt around Sunderland, South Tyneside and Gateshead was originally established back in the 1960s and forms part of the wider Tyne & Wear Green Belt. Its specified objective is to help manage the growth of the Tyneside and Wearside conurbations in a sustainable controlled way, so as to prevent incremental/piecemeal unplanned urban sprawl into the open countryside and the joining up of individual settlements. Its boundaries have seen various adjustments over the past 40+ years, both to release land needed for major new planned housing and industrial developments (including Nissan, Follingsby Park and Boldon Business Park, plus Boldon Colliery's Cotswold Lane housing areas and the Leam Lane housing estate in Gateshead), where you may well now live or work, as well as being extended in other places to help strengthen the separation of built-up areas through green corridors (eg. around Wardley Manor Country Park). South Tyneside's Green Belt boundaries were last reviewed in the 1990s.
While predominantly 'greenfield' in character, our Green Belt also covers various previously-developed 'brownfield' sites, such as former mining-related industrial land and Ministry of Defence properties as well as farmsteads. The essential purposes and functions of the Tyne & Wear Green Belt nevertheless remain consistent with those set out in the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) in preventing the merging of the built-up areas of South Tyneside, Sunderland, Washington and Gateshead, and preserving the special and separate characters of our villages.
What is the next stage of the Local Plan?
The preparation of the new Local Plan is at an early stage, and we will be consulting on a range of issues, including whether there is a need to allocate land within the Green Belt for development. You will be made fully aware of when consultation happens. There will be further public consultation after this, and eventually the plan would undergo public examination (a form of public inquiry) by an independent planning inspector to determine whether it is 'sound' and fit-for-purpose. The indicative timetable for this strategic-level document in the Local Plan, and we will keep this updated and flesh it out in more detail as preparation of our Plan documents progresses.
There is also an opportunity to undertake a more focused Area Action Plan (part of the Local Plan) in collaboration with Sunderland City Council. Similarly to the Local Plan, this would be subject to full public consultation, would outline the need for the development and would also demonstrate how reasonable alternatives have been considered through the site selection process.
The plan would be supported by studies which would establish the demand for the site and the "exceptional circumstances" required to amend the Green Belt in this location, as well as a suite of technical documents including a Sustainability Appraisal and Flood Risk Assessment. Transport and infrastructure requirements would also be taken into account.
It is anticipated that the Local Plan and potential Area Action Plan would be finalised by 2016/17.
Would an International Advanced Manufacturing Park require planning permission?
Yes, and given the nationally-significant scale it is likely to be ultimately decided by the Planning Inspectorate, possibly through the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIP) development consent order process. Following preparation of an application and supporting evidence, the planning application process requires that extensive pre-application public consultation must be carried out on the proposals and landowners and residents would again be fully made aware of this. The application process could take up to 2 years to prepare for and gain planning permission before any development work could reasonably commence on-site (ie. circa 2017/18).
What highways works are going on at the Testos and Downhill Lane junctions?
You may be aware that the Highways Agency (who manage the strategic trunk road network across the country) have recently carried out pre-application consultation during October-November 2014 on their proposed grade separation scheme for the A19/A184 Testos roundabout in South Tyneside, potentially linking also to further improvements to the A19/A1290 Downhill Lane junction just to the south close to the Nissan plant (in addition to traffic flow improvement works they are currently undertaking there). The Testos scheme is already provided for in South Tyneside Council's current adopted development plan.
The Highways Agency is progressing these enhancements through the Government's Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIP) development consent order process (a form of integrated planning application for such major infrastructure schemes). An independent planning inquiry is expected to take place in 2015/16, after which they anticipate works starting on site in Autumn/Winter 2016/17, with completion in Autumn/Winter 2018/19.
Please note that these improvements to their trunk road network are entirely independent of the proposed IAMP and are required irrespective of where the IAMP is located or how big it is. We are nevertheless liaising closely with the Highways Agency to ensure that the surrounding highway network would be able to satisfactorily accommodate any growth in traffic likely to be generated in the area as a result of the IAMP development.
See also Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects.