Warehouse complex planned near Chelmsford village

The first steps that would see a huge warehousing complex dominate greenfield land around less than half a mile from a Chelmsford village have been launched.

Pegasus Group on behalf of Greystoke Land Ltd want to develop land around junction 17 of the A12 into warehousing totalling 120,000 square metres over 48 hectares on greenfield land – potentially creating up to 1600 jobs.

Chelmsford City Council received the screening request from the developer to decide whether an environmental impact assessment would be needed should a planning application be submitted.

The application site would be split over two parcels, currently comprised of a number of fields “defined by mature hedgerows and trees”.

These are located immediately north and east of the major junction connecting Southend and Chelmsford. The two parcels are each around 24 hectares – located around 600 metres east of the residential edge of the village of Great Baddow.

No final decision has been made, and the authority said the site is not currently allocated for development under its local plan.

The site is likely to be developed at the same time as the construction of 342 homes at Manor Farm, in Sandford Mill Lane, Great Baddow – around 700 metres north of the site.

This application is currently pending consideration with Chelmsford City Council. Five development zones are proposed in the northern parcel of land with up to six warehouse buildings, three warehouses are proposed for the eastern segment.

The plans have been revealed in a screening report to the council summarising the impact will be low. The council may decide an Environmental Impact Assessment – that ensures that decision makers consider the environmental impacts when deciding whether or not to proceed with a project – is required.

A statement to the council acknowledges that with the proposed development changing the land from agricultural “the effects of the proposed development is “considered to be of local importance”. However it adds there are a number of proposals to “compensate for the loss of vegetation such as new planting and wildlife habitats and enhancements.”

However it adds the developers do not consider potential impact to be significant.

It adds: “There will be a limited number of people who will be affected by the proposal, mainly by landscape and visual impacts. The proposal could directly facilitate in the region of 1,600 jobs on-site with further jobs in the wider supply chain and would make a significant contribution to the local economy.

“Any potential environmental effects will be low level and commensurate with the normal operation and construction of industrial estate development of this type. There would be an increase in HGV traffic movements and increase in noise, particularly during site construction. No likely significant effects and anticipated.”

In summary, the statement adds the proposed development is not located within a sensitive area in the context of the EIA regulations but does exceed the thresholds for this type of development to qualify for a EIA.

It said: “It is therefore concluded that while there may be some effects upon the environment as a consequence of the proposed development, these would be limited in their effect and extent, such that none of them could be considered to constitute “significant effects” in the context of EIA regulations.

“Accordingly, it is considered that the proposal does not constitute EIA development and therefore the planning application should not be required to be accompanied by an Environmental Statement.”

Piers Meyler

Local Democracy Reporter