Bridging the gap between business and governmentClient: Tower Transit Published: July 2016
Gaining planning permission for a new development is more than just red tape; there are factors involved that can mean the difference between implementing a sustainable, community-focused business proposal or having an unused industrial space in the centre of London.
Tower Transit secured a lease for an industrial site in Pickett’s Lock, in the London Borough of Enfield. The site was previously used for storage of building materials and had lorries travelling in and out of site all day. Tower Transit put in an application to Enfield council for permission to change the usage to a bus depot with up to 270 buses based on site. The buses would move off site early in the morning, and return late at night. This seemed straightforward until residents living in a small local housing estate in Picketts Lock Lane, that the buses would have to go past, objected to the anticipated noise and traffic – particularly early in the morning and late at night..
In order to obtain the planning consent to operate viably from the site, Tower Transit needed guidance on how to navigate the political and regulatory aspects of the planning process and to amend their application to address and accommodate the community’s concerns. They were faced with a significant challenge in convincing the local residents, council officials and elected councillors that the residents’ issues could be addressed and that the depot would be of benefit to the locality.
What we did
With our knowledge and experience of local government, we were expertly placed to work with Tower Transit’s executives and their technical and legal advisers to revise their application in a way that would address these local issues and comply with relevant regulation. We worked with the team to develop a revised proposal that dealt with the resident’s valid concerns, and would be acceptable to the planning authority whilst also allowing Tower Transit to operate buses viably from the site.
We looked in detail with the technical advisers at the current EU regulations which state how much noise vehicle movements can make, particularly during sleeping hours, and we looked at the various options available to Tower Transit to operate in compliance with those regulations during those key hours – most notably hybrid electric and diesel buses.
We also helped them to craft their narrative about the benefits of the development: Firstly, that the depot would bring new job opportunities to the local area. Secondly, that the development of the road and path to the site would improve the pedestrian and cycling access to the whole area, including the neighbouring Leigh Valley Park. Thirdly, that measures were being taken to minimize the negative impact on the local nature reserve, Leigh Valley Park, through, for example, the provision of special lighting on the site to protect the bat corridor within the Park.
We assisted Tower Transit in communicating these measures to the local community, local councilors and the Planning Committee through a roadshow demonstration event in Picketts Lock Lane, where local residents had an opportunity to meet the Tower Transit managers, view the buses, and address any questions or concerns they had directly with the company. We also organized a site visit with the planning officials and local councilors. Although the residents were still opposed to the scheme when it came to the Planning Committee meeting, with our support, Tower Transit was able allay some of their concerns and to start the process of building a positive relationship with the local residents. .
Stephanie Elsy Associates assisted Tower Transit throughout the process, helping the company’s senior executives to understand the politics of the situation and what was achievable given the circumstances. We are delighted that after assisting Tower Transit through this process, a successful planning application was submitted to the council and that Tower Transit is now able to use the site. The new development is set to bring employment to the local area, improve transport links and is setting a standard for a sustainable local development which the community and all those involved can be truly proud of.
Stephanie’s knowledge and expertise has really helped us to better understand our government customers, their needs and priorities. Her advice and support has been invaluable.