Bell Cornwell has recently acted on behalf of Clinton Devon Estates to help them secure planning permission for a major new employment development within a former quarry near Exeter.
The scheme involved a design to provide 35,000 sq. ft. of new industrial space required to allow the expansion of Blackhill Engineering, a specialist engineering firm located on adjoining land belonging to the Estate. Blackhill Engineering provides services to the likes of the new Hinkley Point power station, the European Space Agency and the Ministry of Defence. Its expansion is forecast to bring a substantial increase in the number of highly skilled jobs in the area and to add an estimated £3.4m annually to the local economy. Recognising the opportunity available for an important tenant to expand, Clinton Devon asked Bell Cornwell to help with developing a scheme to respond to their tenants’ needs.
Despite the land’s former quarry use, the scheme’s location adjacent to the Pebblebed Heaths, a highly sensitive area subject to numerous national and European designations, meant that the proposals were not without controversy. As part of the work, it was, therefore, necessary to address issues relating to the site’s location not only within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) but also immediately adjoining land which is designated not only as a Site of Special Scientific Interest but also as a Special Protection Area of Conservation as well.
Addressing the various concerns raised, including those of local amenity groups, made it necessary for the team to take considerable care with the siting and design of the proposals and to carry out in-depth work on environmental issues in partnership with key stakeholders notably Natural England, the RSPB, and the East Devon AONB Partnership. As a result of this work, the scheme will provide a comprehensive package of ecological mitigation measures including the creation of over two hectares of new heath on nearby land as well as the creation of over two hectares of new heath on nearby land as well as the creation of bat and great crested newt hibernacula. With the benefit of this process, the scheme was presented to planning committee with an officer recommendation for approval and was then approved by Council Members. Following the approval, Clinton Devon Estates are now progressing detailed work with a view to the scheme being built in 2019 and Bell Cornwell have been instructed to provide further assistance with this work.
Image credit – MTA Architects