Sides line up in the battle for Plymouth City Airport site and north Plymouth
MILLIONS of pounds are at stake as rival plans to develop the north of Plymouth go head-to-head tomorrow.
Plymouth City Council will face down challenges to its proposals to create a new community of thousands of homes and a major new shopping centre on the old Seaton Barracks parade ground.
A Government planning inspector will spend at least four days this week and next considering whether the council's Derriford and Seaton area action plan is "sound".
Sutton Harbour Holdings will try to persuade the inspector that the council was wrong to exclude the airport from its area action plan.
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Meanwhile Wharfside Regeneration Ltd will revisit its arguments made at a planning inquiry last autumn.
Wharfside wants to build a shopping centre next to Derriford Hospital on the so-called North West Quadrant.
The Derriford and Seaton area action plan is the seventh piece in the city's planning blueprint.
Plans have already been adopted for: City Centre and University, Central Park, Sutton Harbour, North Plymstock, Devonport, and Millbay and Stonehouse.
The Secretary of State has appointed Andrew Seaman to hold the examination into the soundness of the area action plan. Mr Seaman will hear all the arguments at an examination in public, starting tomorrow at the Jurys Inn in Plymouth City Centre.
The hearings – which are open to the public – will continue next Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, with the option to return on April 10.
The area action plan covers the period up to 2021.
The council staked out its territory in the debate last week, when it unveiled its vision of a new "high street" in the north of Plymouth.
The shopping centre will be at the heart of a new community of 3,000 homes, GP surgeries, a school, library, pub and restaurants. The aim is to encourage the creation of 8,000 new jobs by 2026.
The proposed Derriford district centre will be set in almost 12 acres next to the Future Inn in Tavistock Road.
"This will be a new heart for the north of the city, and not a massive out-of-town shopping centre," council leader Tudor Evans said.
David Draffan, the council's assistant director for economic development, said the north of the city – now home to about 4,000 residents – lacked community facilities, a shopping parade, GP surgeries and schools.
The development up to 2026 will include a new business park and could also have: a large new food store with high street shops; restaurants; houses; apartments and student flats; a library; community centre; health centre; and a pub or hotel.
It will include the proposed new Forder Valley link road, which will help to relieve congestion in the north of the city, and a new countryside park.
The proposals have survived two changes of political control at the council.
Among those who have made representations to the inquiry are the Plymouth Civic Society, South West Water, British Land, Prudential Property Investment Managers, the Harvest Partnership and the Hawkins Trust.
Log on to thisisplymouth. co.uk from 10am tomorrow to follow the examination live
NORTH WEST QUADRANT PLAN
A DEVELOPER is using the economic argument to oppose council plans for a major new shopping centre, writes political reporter Keith Rossiter.
Wharfside Regeneration, which challenged the council’s vision for Derriford and Seaton at a planning inquiry last autumn, returns to the fray this week.
Last year Wharfside appealed against a decision by Plymouth planners to put a shopping centre on the old Seaton Barracks parade ground instead of Wharfside’s own proposal for a site next to Derriford Hospital, the so-called North West Quadrant.
The issue was thrashed out in front of a planning inspector last autumn, but the decision of the Secretary of State will not be made known until after the area action plan inquiry.
John Oxley, a Wharfside director, said: “Our North West Quadrant site has the opportunity of being developed quickly with Plymouth City Council support and this would be an investment running to some £150million,” he said.
“The private sector is waiting for realism and the much-needed creation of wealth for the city.
“Success [for Wharfside] will mean a great investment for Plymouth with job creation that is much needed.”
Thomas Hill, QC, for Sutton Harbour Holdings, told planning inquiry inspector David Nicholson last autumn that if the Wharfside appeal was upheld it would cut off any possibilities of building a district centre at the former airport site.
And a planning consultant said the Wharfside proposals failed to satisfy the needs of the council’s area action plan for Derriford and Seaton, which include a large new supermarket.
PLYMOUTH CITY AIRPORT PLAN
THE former operator of Plymouth Airport forced the city council back to the drawing board last summer.
When the Labour administration took power in May 2012 it removed the airport from the Derriford and Seaton area action plan.
Council leader Tudor Evans said the fate of the Roborough site should be decided instead under the Plymouth Plan, which looks at planning issues up to 2030.
Former airport operator Sutton Harbour Holdings wants to develop a new community on the 113-acre site, exercising the so-called ‘Armageddon Clause’ in its 150-year lease on the airport.
The company has published its own masterplan for a massive housing and shopping development.
The masterplan, drawn up by Plymouth architects AWW, calls for a range of commercial, retail and residential units, including an hotel and food retail store, plus the first part of a proposed park and streets leading to a new town square and high street.
The second phase would include a new primary school, library and community centre, more retail and residential blocks forming the town square and a new pedestrian link to the University of St Mark and St John.
After the proposals were published the planning inspectorate ordered the city council to reopen public consultation on the airport site.
One of the main weapons in the council’s armoury will be a 38,000-signature petition backing the airport.
Sutton Harbour finds itself in the position of both opposing and supporting the city council.
Victory for the former airport operator will have to include defeat for Wharfside Regeneration in a complicated three-cornered fight.