Agenda item

15/01235/FUL - 1650 Lincoln Road, Peterborough, PE6 7HH


The planning application was for the provision of three new gas compressors and enclosures at 1650 Lincoln Road, Peterborough. The application also included a new vent stack, site office, administration and welfare buildings and associated infrastructure.


It was officer’s recommendation that planning permission be granted, subject to the conditions set out in the report. The Development Manager provided an overview of the application and highlighted a number of key issues within the report.


Councillor Holdich, Ward Councillor, and Councillor Johnson, Glinton Parish Councillor, addressed the Committee and responded to questions from Members. In summary the key points highlighted included:

·         Councillor Holdich believed that the applicants should move further away from residences, rather than closer to them, as in this application.

·         It was suggested that the development would be five decibels louder than at current, which would travel widely in the open countryside.

·         It was questioned why the stack could not be located nearer the compressors to decrease the size of the site.

·         Councillor Johnson advised that the Parish Council had no objection to the site expanding, however not as per the current proposals.

·         The proposed design was considered to be abysmal for its rural location.

·         The increase in noise would have an impact on the ability of local residents to sleep, particularly as many people slept with their windows open.

·         Issue was taken with the prospect of removing the tree screening. It was believed that the proposal would offer a less than satisfactory outlook to those arriving to the city via Bourges Boulevard.

·         Councillor Johnson queried why the removed screening could not be replaced by already matured trees.


Paul Emmett, Nigel Chalmers and Philip Smith, National Grid, addressed the Committee in support of the application and responded to questions from Members. In summary the key points highlighted included:

·         Peterborough was considered a key operational site and was due for an environmental upgrade.

·         There was insufficient space on the current site and an extension to the east was most appropriate.

·         Noise mitigation techniques would be employed, the most advanced of any National Grid site. As such, the noise emission of the proposed compressors would be lower than at current.

·         The height of the Stack was a legal requirement and was required to be a certain distance away from the compressors. A sterile surrounding area was required for safety in the event of a fire.

·         The removal of trees was required to maintain safety. New screening would be provided, however.

·         A decision had been made to not include individual enclosures around the compressors, as such enclosures would be of a large scale due to safety restrictions. It was felt that the proposals were of a slender design, neutral colour and would allow light through.

·         If cladded enclosures were to be erected around each of the proposed compressors, the scale of the development would multiply and would not be able to fit within the application site. Where three compressors were sited on the current proposal, approximately one would be able to fit with a cladded enclosure. National Grid would have to obtain additional land, possibly through compulsory purchase if it were to fully enclose the units.

·         Mature trees could not be planted directly onto the landscaping mounds, as the trees would fail. A variety of other trees would be provided as screening. The exact height of the mounds would be determined under the landscaping condition, however was expected to be approximately 4 metres.

·         The existing compressors worked at a level of 41 to 44 decibels. The new proposal would operate at 38 decibels.

·         The new compressor would operate at a 2 decibels greater than background noise in the night time. Background noise was the quietest general level.

·         The noise emitted would be similar to current in terms of tonality.

·         The land to the east was considered optimum.


The Committee considered the application and highlighted that there was a definite need for an increase of utility services, as the city continued to expand. The matter of design was discussed and the Committee considered that the proposal was highly visible in the rural landscape, and was in stark contrast to its surroundings. It was suggested that the addition of an enclosure would improve the visual impact of the compressors. A Member of the Committee commented that there was nothing significantly wrong with design of the application.


The Planning Lawyer advised that the Committee was required to consider the application before it. It was not for the applicant to return with a proposal on land that was not available to them.


A motion was proposed and seconded to agree that permission be refused, contrary to officer recommendation, on the grounds that the visual appearance of the development was alien in the landscape, detrimental to the public realm and out of character with the surrounding area. The motion was carried seven voting in favour, three voting against.


RESOLVED: (seven voted in favour, three voted against) that planning permission is REFUSED for the reasons set out below.


Reasons for the decision


The proposed development, in particular the appearance of the three gas compressor units, constituted alien features within a predominantly rural landscape.  As such the proposals harmed the visual appearance and character of the landscape setting and locality contrary to policies CS16 and CS20 of the adopted Peterborough Core Strategy and policy PP2 of the Peterborough Planning Policies DPD.


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