The Haverhill Research Park site is currently allocated as a ‘strategic employment site’ in the Borough Council’s adopted Local Plan document, which dates from September 2014.
A ‘Masterplan’ for the site was adopted by the Council in 2011, and a number of planning applications were then prepared and submitted for the development of the site.
Full planning permission was granted in January 2012 for the creation of the individual development plots, the provision of services and new access road, together with landscaping. These works were completed by the end of 2013.
Outline planning permission was also granted in January 2012 for:
- The erection of a research/business park (B1 Use Class), of up to 450,000 sq.ft (41,805 sq. metres) total gross floor area;
- ‘Commercial uses’ (comprising pub/restaurant, crèche and a hotel) on 0.61ha (1.5 acres) of the site, and 150 dwellings on 3.34ha (8.25 acres) on the eastern side of the site (The Arboretum).
Full planning permission was granted in June 2014 for the erection of an ‘Innovation Centre’ as a potential first phase of the Haverhill Research Park. This development comprised a four storey building including car parking and new vehicular access on the site adjacent to the proposed creche.
The original outline planning permissions were renewed in December 2014 and the period for submission of the ‘reserved matters’ was extended to ten years from the date of the approval. The conditions attached to this permission were the same as those attached to the original outline planning permission, which required that the site and all buildings erected on it be used for Class B1 (business) use and Class C1 (hotel) use, except that any uses falling within Class B1c (light industry) be limited to ancillary areas of any individual buildings.
An application was submitted in November 2017 to vary this planning condition by removing the use class restrictions for the construction of the research/ business park, which was subsequently approved in April 2018. This approval allows for purely B1c (light industrial) use, without restriction, across all the undeveloped plots, in line with the adopted planning policy for the site, which dates back to 2012.
Public consultation on the planning application to vary the condition restricting light industrial uses on the site indicated that local residents who lived immediately adjacent to the site were totally opposed to any light industrial uses, especially ones served from Three Counties Way. While many residents would still like to see the ‘research park’ concept realised, the longstanding lack of any viable demand for office and ‘R & D’ uses indicates that this will not happen.
In these circumstances, residents may prefer residential development as an alternative to light industrial development on Plots 300 and 400.
Our initial scheme appraisals show that a residential development would result in 66% less traffic using Three Counties Way than the currently approved potential business uses; in addition, building heights would be lower and the total built floorspace would be around half that of the commercial planning permission.
A new planning application has recently been submitted for the ‘Innovation Centre’ on Plot 100, and it is envisaged that both plots 100 and 200 (which are accessed directly from the A1307), would continue to be promoted for office, light industrial and R & D uses.