South Denes LDO talks ongoing

OUTER harbour bosses are locked in discussion with council chiefs over how much freedom they will be afforded when planning laws are relaxed.

Industry chiefs - including Great Yarmouth Port Company (GYPC) - have asked the government for special permission to develop the peninsula without having to go through the council’s planning department.

The move would be a shot in the arm for industry in the town they say - including the South Denes enterprise zone, pictured above - but residents fear the growth of industry would cause residents to suffer.

Borough councillors agreed to endorse the Local Development Order (LDO) for South Denes at last week’s full council meeting.

And now it will be sent to Eric Pickles, secretary of state for communities and local government, who will decide whether to grant it and remove the need for developers to go through the normal planning application process.

However, the wording of the LDO has not yet been agreed, and the amount of power handed to developers - including how many years the LDO will run for - is still under negotiation.

Port authority bosses hope the LDO will give them 25 years of planning freedom. But it is anticipated the final draft of the order will not be finalised and sent to Eric Pickles until the end of next week at the earliest.

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Residents in Gorleston and neighbouring Yarmouth wards have voiced fears over the amount of noise, light and smell pollution that may be caused if port bosses are handed control of the peninsula.

Michael Jeal, councillor for Nelson ward, told last week’s full council meeting: “Don’t think that I don’t want more work here, because I do.

“It’s lovely having these things, but you need a buffer area.

“Part of it backs onto the Barrack estate and someone should have asked the ward councillors for their views.”

The LDO - which is intended to encourage growth - has been divided into two parts.

Beacon Park’s LDO is already in government hands, after proposals were voted through at a council meeting on February 16.

But the wording of the South Denes LDO is under negotiation.

Council leader Steve Ames told last week’s meeting: “Hopefully it will generate a significant amount of employment but the port maritime safety code will have to take precedence - it’s important.”

The decision for the council to approve the order and send it to Eric Pickles was made in under five minutes.

As reported, GYPC - in a report prepared by lawyer’s Winckworth Sherwood - has reassured people that the LDO would not give them free reign on the outer harbour site.

It states regulations would still apply to its northern end, land west of the river and the area surrounding Nelson’s Monument. And environmental directives would also continue to apply.

But the document says rules should not be necessary “where heavy industry, maritime operations and a wide galaxy of business is already situated and focused.”

Port bosses recognise that handing the outer harbour planning autonomy is a big step, but say it is a positive one.

“We feel that a giant leap is justified, absolutely required and above all legally possible,” the report says. “The LDO for the South Denes area can and should go much further in encouraging inward investment and development which is the fundamental purpose of the LDO and the basis for which Enterprise Zone status was awarded.”

Peter Warner, the borough council’s head of planning, said the authority has consulted on the proposal and more than 1,500 individuals and organisations have been approached.

More than 150 specific representations – ranging from the RSPB to GYPC - were received. Once final wording is agreed by the council, GYPC and other stakeholders the LDO will be sent to Mr Pickles to approve the LDO - or approve it with amendments - to begin on April 1.