17 September 2013
Oldham Metropolitam Borough Council
Dear Mr Prestwich
Proposal: Mixed use development including residential development, care home and new secondary school
Location: Former Shaw Pallets Works, Huddersfield Road, Diggle, Oldham
Waterway: Huddersfield Narrow Canal
I refer to your pre-application consultation dated 20 August 2013 and I must apologise for the delay in my response.
The British Waterways Board (Transfer of Functions) Order 2012 has substituted references to British Waterways in the Town and Country Planning (Development Management Procedure) (England) Order 2010 to the Canal & River Trust. As such, local planning authorities are now required to consult the Canal & River Trust on applications for planning permission in the same way as British Waterways was previously consulted. In addition, under the British Waterways Board Transfer Scheme 2012 (also made under the Public Bodies Act 2011) all the property of British Waterways in England and Wales has now vested in the Trust.
The Canal & River Trust is a company limited by guarantee and registered as a charity. It is separate from government but still the recipient of a significant amount of government funding.
The Trust has a range of charitable objects including:
- To hold in trust or own and to operate and manage inland waterways for public benefit, use and enjoyment;
- To protect and conserve objects and buildings of heritage interest;
- To further the conservation, protection and improvement of the natural environment of inland waterways; and
- To promote sustainable development in the vicinity of any inland waterways for the benefit of the public.
After due consideration of the sketch site plan (Proposals 2, March 2013), the Canal & River Trust has the following comments to make:
Risk to Structural Integrity of Canal
The site lies below the level of the adjacent Huddersfield Narrow Canal, with historic retaining walls of up to 5 metres in height adjacent to the pallets works site and embankments on the greenfield part of the site. It is essential that the structural integrity of the retaining structures is not put at risk at any stage of the demolition, re-profiling and re-development of the site, which could in the worst case scenario result in a breach of the canal.
With this in mind the applicant/developer is advised to work with the Canal & River Trust as the proposed development progresses, particularly in respect of the details of any repair or replacement of the existing retaining walls and any earthworks on the greenfield part of the site. Support to the embankments and retaining walls must be maintained at all times.
The National Planning Policy Framework advises that the risk of flooding of the site should be assessed, including the risk from man-made structures such as canals and reservoirs. the Trust would be glad to provide further advice in respect of the risk of flooding as a result of a breach or over-topping of the canal. In addition, the applicant should be aware that part of the site lies within the Environment Agency flood map for reservoirs, as Diggle Brook would be inundated in the event of a failure of the dam at Diggle Reservoir. Should the proposed development result in the reclassification of the reservoir this may necessitate additional saftey works to the dam, and such works would need to be carried out or funded by the developer. The Canal & River Trust's Water Engineer Neil D'Arcy can be contacted for further information in respect of these flood risk issues as the scheme progresses (firstname.lastname@example.org. Tel. 01942 405786).
The applicant should also be aware of a culvert that carries a watercourse beneath the railway line and canal and into the site, just above Lock 30. This enters another culvert within the site where the flow is restricted, and this has resulted in flooding within the site in the past.
Canal Heritage & Visual Amenity
The existing industrial buildings make a contribution to the character and history of the Huddersfield Narrow Canal and the loss of these buildings should be fully addressed and justified in any heritage assessment. The impact of the re-development of the site on the heritage value of the canal corridor should also be fully assessed. The canal infrastructure in the vicinity of the site has significant historical value, particularly the Grade II Listed Bridge No. 69 and the locks, by-washes and towpath bridges adjacent to the site. The subway under the canal at the northern end of the site is also Grade II Listed. Any impact on these assets or their setting should be fully assessed and mitigated.
The visual amenity of canal users must be fully considered as the scheme progresses, in respect of the views of the proposed development from the canal corridor. The development of the greenfiled agricultural land on the southern part of the site will have particularly significant impact on the visual amenity of users of this stretch of the canal, which currently has open views over the countryside. The built development should positively address the canal corridor rather than presenting views of service areas and bin stores, and the use of appropriate screen planting and boundary treatments is likely to also play an important role in this respect.
It will be necessary to erect a boundary treatment on the edge of the brownfield part of the site, in order to safeguard users of the canal-side footpath from the risk of falls. The details of appropriate treatments should be agreed with the Trust but at this stage we would advise that the use of dry stone walling would be most in keeping with the visual amenity of the area. The introduction of high fencing on the boundary of the greenfield part of the site should be avoided if possible, as this would further detract from views to and from the canal corridor.
The industrial water abstraction equipment which currently exists on the canal edge between Locks 29 and 30 detracts from the visual amenity of the canal corridor. If this is not required in connection with the proposed re-development of the site, the infrastructure should be removed and the canal washwall and footpath re-instated if necessary. Should the developer wish to consider the option of abstracting canal water for use in heating or cooling of the buildings, it may be possible to re-use the existing infrastructure subject to the necessary improvements. Our Water Sales Account Manager Lesley Inwards can be contacted for advice in respect of this (email@example.com, Tel. 01908 351884).
Pedestrian and Cycle Linkages
The canal towpath lies on the eastern side of the waterway, and provides a leisure and recreation route that connects to the wider canal network. The footpath on the western side of the canal is also largely owned by the Trust, other than a short section adjacent to the industrial buildings.
Should the canal towpath or footpath be recognised as a significant route for pedestrian and cycle journeys to and from the proposed development, this may necessitate appropriate works to the surfacing of these routes, which should be carried out by the applicant or appropriate financial contributions secured through the Section 106 Agreement. It is also possible that the use of the subway under the canal may increase as an alternative means of crossing the canal, which would need careful consideration and would be likely to require sensitive improvements.
The Trust would support the use and improvement of the public footpath that runs through the site from Huddersfield Road to join the towpath at Bridge 69 as this provides an important link to the canal, and the route to the north of the site should also be considered. The lock bridges in the vicinity of the site should not be considered as providing means of crossing the canal in their current condition as these are intended for the use of boaters operating the locks and not for wider use.
The Canal & River Trust would be glad to discuss these issues further as the scheme progresses.
I trust this is of assistance at this stage. Should you have any queries please contact me at this office
Area Planner (North West & North Wales)
Telephone: 01942 405774