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Flintshire County Council Unitary Development Plan 2000-2015
Adopted 28th September 2011

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Chapter 13

Employment

Relevant Strategic Aims

a. Economy, h. Resources

Policy Objectives
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Policy List
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  1. SCALE AND QUALITY - to ensure sufficient land is available to provide access for local people to a range of good quality, long term employment opportunities
  2. LOCATION - to guide new commercial and industrial development to appropriate sites in and adjoining main centres of population in order to minimise the need to travel by car
  3. RE-USE OF LAND - to concentrate employment development on derelict or under-used land
  4. HARMONY - to ensure that development has minimal detrimental impact on the natural and built environment and the local community

EM1 General Employment Land Allocations

EM2 High Quality Site Allocations

EM3 Development Zones and Principal Employment Areas

EM4 Location of Other Employment Development

EM5 Expansion of Existing Concerns

EM6 Protection of Employment Land

EM7 Bad Neighbour Industry

Indicators of Policy Performance

Targets

  1. % of new employment development on brownfield sites
  2. Employment land developed by use classes (B1, B2, B8)
  3. Take up rates
  4. Development permitted on designated employment sites contrary to policy
  5. Jobs created

 

 

13 Employment

Introduction

13.1 One of the Plan's key aims is "to create a thriving and sustainable economy providing a wide range of quality employment opportunities for local people". Whilst it cannot in itself determine future levels of employment, the Plan can influence economic performance through the successful implementation of land use proposals and policies.

13.2 The Plan has a fundamental role in making provision for and encouraging employment development in the County, in order to revitalise and broaden the local economy and stimulate employment opportunities, to ensure the future economic prosperity of the County and the well being of its residents. However, it is equally important to balance this goal against the need to protect the environment and landscape.

13.3 This chapter is principally concerned with industry, offices and warehousing. Other sources of employment such as shopping, tourism and rural enterprise are addressed in other chapters of the Plan.

 

National Planning Policy

13.4 The Welsh Government’s objectives for economic development are to enhance the economic success of both urban areas and the countryside. This includes helping businesses to maximise their competitiveness; supporting initiative; encouraging diversity in the local economy; and promoting the exploitation of new technologies.

13.5 Para 7.1.7 of Planning Policy Wales advises local authorities to ensure that:

13.6 Para 7.2.1 advises local planning authorities, in designating land for employment needs, to consider phasing and the availability of infrastructure. It also recommends a review of all non housing allocations to consider whether some of this land might be better used for housing or mixed use development. Para 7.2.2 places emphasis on the preference for brownfield sites, proximity to existing urban developments, good accessibility to the public transport and primary road network, and good quality telecommunications as key sustainability principles to be considered in selecting key employment locations. Further guidance is provided on the promotion of businesses outside key employment sites and the value of mixed use development. Para 7.2.7 recognises the importance of resisting other uses on key sites in terms of maintaining an industrial land bank.

13.7 Planning Policy Wales requires that UDP’s should set out policies that encourage environmentally sound and socially responsible economic development; identify a range and choice of sites to meet different economic and employment needs; and set out clear criteria against which new economic development proposals will be assessed. UDP’s should also include, amongst other things, policies on the promotion of the development of under used and vacant previously developed land and premises, hazardous development and potentially polluting industries.

 

Flintshire Context

13.8 The relative success of the economy in Flintshire today is very much a reflection of the well-resourced, multi-agency efforts in attracting significant new investment and jobs to the area following the setbacks of the early 1980s when the textile and steel industries collapsed.

13.9 Flintshire acts as a key focal point for the wider regional economy of North Wales and the North West, providing, for example, 'high-value' manufacturing employment at Deeside Industrial Park and Airbus at Broughton. Some of the key economic indicators suggest that Flintshire's economy is currently strong and performing well: unemployment is relatively low, GDP and economic activity are relatively high.

13.10 However there are still weaknesses in the County economy such as pockets of high unemployment and deprivation in both rural and urban parts of Flintshire; low work force qualifications; high dependence on manufacturing employment; and a weak enterprise culture.

13.11 The Flintshire Regeneration Strategy (FRS) (2009-2020) provides the context in which the Plan’s policies seek to bring about the continued economic development and regeneration of the Flintshire economy. Key principles of the Strategy include:

13.12 The key issues to be addressed by the UDP in the context of the FRS and Planning Policy Wales are the scale and location of future employment land provision. The principle aim is to achieve the sustainable development and diversification of the local economy through the provision of a suitable range of types and sizes of employment sites in locations which are accessible to people, wherever possible either on foot, by cycle or by using public transport.

 

Employment Land Requirements

13.13 The scale of future employment land requirements is based on both quantitative and qualitative factors. The quantitative element comprises an assessment of need based on previous rates of take up of employment land in the County which is reflective of demand and development over the 10 year period 1990-2000. In numerical terms this equates to a land take up rate of between 12 and 19 hectares per annum, depending on whether large 'one-off' developments are included (e.g. BHP terminal and Powergen). Over the Plan period this produces a land need of between 207 and 328 hectares including an allowance for flexibility (15%) to cater for the need to provide a range of choice of sites for different industrial sectors, the provision of infrastructure, and delays in bringing forward sites.

13.14 In identifying the most sustainable provision within this range it should be noted that the last ‘major’ development in the County in terms of land take was the BHP terminal in 1993. Also, following the public inquiry into the Shotwick Road planning application, the Inspector felt that the overriding need for a development of this size (in excess of 60 ha) had not been proven. In the current climate it would therefore appear unrealistic to base employment land need on previous rates of land take up that include all large one off developments (the maximum end of the range). However, whilst the demand for large sites seems to have fallen away, developments with large site requirements cannot entirely be ruled out in the future.

13.15 Nevertheless, it is also considered unrealistic to assess employment land provision purely in quantitative terms and based entirely on past trends which may change over time. Allowance should be made for other qualitative factors such as:

13.16 To provide for the range of scenarios that the above factors will undoubtedly generate, it is more appropriate to consider a level of employment land provision closer to the upper end of the range (207ha to 328ha). The Plan therefore identifies an employment land need in the order of 300 hectares over the Plan period. Such a level of provision would not preclude new inward investment but would be more sustainable.

 

Employment Land Provision

13.17 The future provision of employment land in the form of allocations in the UDP is heavily influenced by existing commitments and allocations inherited from the Alyn and Deeside and Draft North Flintshire Local Plans. The level of employment land allocations in these Plans was relatively high, being based on a period of significant economic activity and high rates of take-up of employment land. Because the UDP is setting a relatively lower employment land need, it is almost inevitable that a substantial proportion of existing allocations will make up the land provision in the UDP. However, it has to be acknowledged that some of these sites are not generally available, being held for expansion purposes. Others have lain vacant for a long period of time thus raising questions about their suitability to meet current economic development requirements, their marketability or whether constraints affecting their development can be overcome. A critical examination of these sites has been carried out to identify those allocations which need to be rolled forward into the UDP, net areas of land that can realistically be regarded as available (where known), and to discard those sites which are no longer suitable to be carried forward as employment land allocations. The latter have been assessed as to their suitability for alternative uses.

13.18 Previous plans have made provision for strategic, high quality and local sites and it is considered that this type of provision remains appropriate. Where possible, brownfield sites have been identified for employment purposes as part of this provision. Some 294 ha. of existing employment allocations (assuming a development area of 36.5 ha. at Warren Hall) have been rolled forward into the Plan, but 32 ha. of this is not generally available, being tied up by existing businesses for expansion purposes. New allocations amounting to 47 ha. have been made to address the notional shortfall. These comprise bringing brownfield land back into use; capitalising on opportunities to form business clusters centred around the aerospace sector at Broughton; and recognising the increasing demands for high quality sites from the sectors of the economy that Flintshire is now trying to attract.

13.19 Whilst the total allocations exceed the ‘target’ need figure, some of the land is not generally available and a relatively large proportion of the total (98 ha.) is taken up by one site to the north west of Garden City, which may take some time to come forward. However, it is considered that the level of provision is acceptable given that there is potential capacity for further employment development within the existing Development Zones and Principal Employment Areas, particularly around the Corus (now Tata) site, to provide the flexibility required to meet any shortfalls that may arise.

13.20 The following summarises the employment land provision compared to the requirement:

 

Policies

EM1 General Employment Land Allocations

The following sites, as defined on the proposals map, are allocated for B1, B2 and B8 employment uses, unless otherwise stated provided that the proposal:

  1. is of an appropriate type and scale for both the site and its surroundings;
  2. will not unacceptably harm residential or other amenity or restrict neighbouring land uses;
  3. provides satisfactory on-site parking, servicing and manoeuvring space and that the highway network (including access and egress) is adequate to safely cater for the type and volume of traffic generated by the proposal; and,
  4. has no significant adverse impact on the integrity of nature conservation sites, the landscape and historic features.

 

Ref no.

Settlement / Location

Site

Area(ha)

Comments

1

Broughton

Chester Aerospace Park

15.5 

Retain allocation. Welsh Government redevelopment of a brownfield site.

2

Broughton

Manor Lane/Hawarden Park Extension

18.2

New allocation to the south of existing industrial park to cater for aerospace sector spin-offs and enable improved access.

3

Buckley

Mount Pleasant Road (north)

2.0

Reduction to original allocation.

4

Buckley

Land North of Buckley Station

0.6

Retain as allocation.

5

Buckley

Drury New Road

1.4

New allocation to reflect vacant land to the north of access road to former Optec factory.

6

'Chester'

Chester West Employment Park

1.3

Retain as allocation.

7

Connahs Quay

Former Power Station

12.8       

Retain allocation but omit from the Deeside Development Zone.

8

Connahs Quay

Crumps Yard, Dock Road

4.0

New allocation to bring brownfield site back into use.

9

Deeside

Deeside Industrial Park, Phase II

11.6

Retain balance as allocation.

10

Deeside

Land to North of Shotton Paper 

24.0 

Retain as allocation. But not generally available.

11

Deeside

Land to East of Shotton Paper

32.0

Retain as allocation.

12

Deeside

Land to North West of Garden City

98.0

Retention of existing allocation, but as part of a mixed use scheme under HSG2A. Needs major infrastructure. Development Brief required.

13

Greenfield

Greenfield Business Park, Phase I

1.3

Retain allocation, but land not generally available.

14

Greenfield

Greenfield Business Park, Phase II

6.1

Retain allocations. But 5.0 ha. not generally available.

15

Greenfield

Greenfield Business Park, Phase III

6.4

Retain allocations.

16

Greenfield

Greenfield Business Park (III) Extension

6.6

Retain allocation as extension to Business Park. 

17

Mold

Broncoed Ind. Est.

1.1

Retain allocation. 

18

Mold

Mold Business Park

5.3

Retain allocations. Restrict to B1 & high quality B2 uses.

19

Mostyn

Adjacent Mostyn Docks

4.5 

Retain as allocation.

20

Queensferry

Expressway Business Park

0.7

Retain as allocation.

21

Queensferry

Chester Road East

3.8

Reduction to original allocation.

22

Rhydymwyn

Antelope Ind. Est.

1.1 

Retain as allocation.

23

Saltney

River Lane

2.2

Retain as allocation.

24

Saltney

Land East of Saltney Ferry Road

14.6

Retain as allocation.

25

Sandycroft

Prince William Avenue

1.8

Reduction to original allocation.

26

Shotton

Rowley's Drive

1.8

Retain as allocation. All committed - no land generally available. B1, B2 (low impact) & B8 uses.

 

Total

 

278.7

Existing allocations rolled forward - 255.1ha.

New site allocations - 23.6ha.

Land not generally available - 32.1ha.

 

13.21 The general employment land allocations comprise mainly local sites which are designed to accommodate a range of types and sizes of B1 business, B2 industrial and B8 warehousing uses. Land North West of Garden City is the largest of the site allocations and forms part of a new mixed use development under policy HSG2A. It is located at the ‘Northern Gateway’ to the County close to main communication links and should be developed to a high standard.

13.22 The bulk of the allocations are well-related to the main urban areas and transport corridors, giving local people good access to a range of jobs, and contributing to a reduction in the length and number of journeys to work. Meanwhile those at Mostyn and Rhydymwyn provide for job opportunities in the more rural communities, and build on existing developments in these areas.

13.23 Brownfield sites account for over 60% of the employment land allocations. New allocations include sites at Broughton, Buckley and Connah’s Quay. The Manor Lane/Hawarden Park Extension site is intended to facilitate aerospace sector spin-off developments and enable improved access from the B5125 to the existing industrial estates at Hawarden Park and off Manor Lane. Whilst the site comprises best and most versatile agricultural land, it is considered that there is an overriding need for the development. Aerospace related projects are primarily driven by proximity to their customers and therefore need co-location in the form of a dedicated supplier park. The allocation is a natural extension to the Airport Development Zone and has well defined physical boundaries. No other brownfield sites or land of lesser agricultural quality in the vicinity or wider area is considered to satisfy the criteria for such a development. A development brief will be produced for the Manor Lane/Hawarden Park Extension site which will include matters such as the protection of landscape and nature conservation features.

13.24 The acceptability of heavy industrial and warehouse uses (B2 and B8) in sensitive areas of the sites allocated under this policy (in particular, Mold Business Park) will be judged against the specific nature of the development and its potential effect on the built and natural environment.

13.25 It is recognised that several of the sites are adjacent to Natura 2000 sites. Detailed development proposals on such sites will be rigorously assessed as to their impacts on international nature conservation designations and are likely to require Appropriate Assessment.

 

Other Key Policies:

 

EM2 High Quality Site Allocations

The following sites, as defined on the proposals map, will be safeguarded as high quality employment sites for the location of B1 uses:

  1. Warren Hall, Broughton - 36.5 ha.
  2. DARA site, Sealand - 18.5 ha.
  3. St. David’s Park, Ewloe - 2.2 ha.
  4. Mold Business Park Extension - 5.0 ha.

Development will be permitted provided that:

  1. it incorporates extensive landscaping measures which respect and retain any existing features of landscape, historic or nature conservation interest;
  2. it is of low density; and
  3. its layout, siting, design and materials are of the highest quality.

13.26 High Quality Sites are aimed principally at attracting firms in the 'high technology', research and development sectors, or prestige offices (B1 uses) which require a high quality environment. In addition to rolling forward existing allocations at Warren Hall and St. David’s Park, new allocations are proposed at Sealand and Mold in recognition of the increasing demands for high quality sites from the sectors of the economy that Flintshire is now trying to attract.

13.27 The DARA site offers an opportunity to provide a high quality business environment at the Gateway entrance to the County if and when DARA retrench their operations. Land at Mold is a natural extension off the spine road serving the existing Business Park. Given the site’s proximity to residential development at its northern boundary and the topography of the site, a Development Brief will be prepared, addressing matters such as layout, design, materials and landscaping, to ensure the natural and built environment is adequately protected. There are outstanding planning permissions for an estimated 3 ha. of office use at Northop Country Park, to supplement the High Quality Site allocations.

 

EM3 - Development Zones and Principal Employment Areas

Within development zones and principal employment areas, as defined on the proposals map, the following types of employment development will be permitted:

  1. B1 business use;
  2. B2 general industry;
  3. B8 storage and distribution.

provided that:

  1. the site is not allocated for a specific employment use by virtue of policy EM1 or EM2;
  2. the proposal is of an appropriate type and scale for both the site and its surroundings;
  3. the proposal will not have a significant adverse impact on residential or other amenity or unacceptably restrict neighbouring land uses;
  4. the proposal provides satisfactory on site parking, servicing and manoeuvring space and that the highway network (including access and egress) is adequate to safely cater for the type and volume of traffic generated by the proposal; and
  5. the proposal has no significant adverse impact on the integrity of nature conservation sites, the landscape and historic features.

13.28 This policy seeks to identify on the proposals map the areas where most employment development is likely to take place. The concept of Development Zone designations has been rolled forward from the Alyn and Deeside Local Plan. However, they have been rationalised so that they only embrace areas within the County that are truly strategic in nature in terms of their economic importance. It is considered that the following 3 areas satisfy this approach:

13.29 The Principal Employment Areas comprise a mixture of:

13.30 By identifying key areas where new employment development will generally be acceptable, the Plan aims to provide a greater degree of certainty and consistency and avoid the need to identify numerous small allocations or commitments. The policy is applicable to the use of land, new build, conversion, redevelopment and extension or expansion. Within these areas, employment development will generally be acceptable, unless it is allocated for a specific use by virtue of another policy. However, it will still be necessary for proposals to be of a type and scale which respects the local environment and amenity of other land uses and residents. Similarly, the local highway network must be capable of catering for the volume and nature of traffic likely to be generated. Proposals which are major traffic generating developments will be assessed against policy AC4 to assess how they seek to reduce car based journeys.

13.31 It is recognised that several of the sites are adjacent to Natura 2000 sites. Detailed development proposals on such sites will be rigorously assessed as to their impacts on international nature conservation designations and are likely to require Appropriate Assessment.

 

Other Key Policies:

 

EM4 Location of Other Employment Development

New industrial, office and warehousing development proposals arising outside either allocated sites, Development Zones or Principal Employment Areas will be permitted:

  1. within the defined settlement boundary;
    or if outside defined settlement boundaries
  2. through the conversion of suitable buildings; or
  3. through the redevelopment of suitable brownfield, underused or vacant land;

provided that :

  1. the scale and design of the development is in keeping with its immediate surroundings;
  2. the proposed use is appropriate to the location and causes no detriment to residential amenity or areas and features of landscape, nature conservation and historic importance;
  3. the proposal provides satisfactory on site parking, servicing and manoeuvring space and that the highway network (including access and egress) is adequate to safely cater for the type and volume of traffic generated by the proposal; and
  4. outside storage areas are screened from public view.

13.32 Many businesses can be located within settlements, provided that they are of an appropriate scale and design, and do not threaten residential amenity. In villages they can help to create a more diverse range of jobs to offset those that may be lost from agriculture. However, it is essential that proposals do not impair the quality of the local environment and that access and parking facilities are satisfactory. The scale of development permissible under this policy will depend on its location. In rural villages developments will generally need to be small scale in order to harmonise with their immediate surroundings and avoid detriment to local quality of life. However, there are likely to be circumstances, particularly in towns, where larger scale developments may be acceptable provided there is no detrimental impact on the locality.

 

Other Key Policies:

 

EM5 Expansion of Existing Concerns

Outside allocated sites, Development Zones or Principal Employment Areas the expansion of industrial concerns will be permitted only where:

  1. it is located on land within or abutting the boundary of existing premises;
  2. any new development is subsidiary to the existing operation;
  3. the scale of the total cumulative development is in keeping with both the site and its surroundings;
  4. development relates physically to the scale, pattern and form of existing development;
  5. any new site boundary is logical, utilising existing features wherever possible, or incorporates suitable boundary treatment, supplemented by sensitive landscaping measures; and
  6. the proposal is appropriate to the location and does not cause unacceptable harm to residential amenity or areas and features of landscape, nature conservation and historic importance.

13.33 In many circumstances it will be appropriate to allow firms to extend their existing operation, particularly as expansion on site is cheaper than relocation and makes the best use of existing infrastructure thereby conserving resources. Such an approach forms a key part of the Council’s current Regeneration Strategy. Within Development Zones and Principal Employment Areas there is unlikely to be a problem with the expansion of existing firms, but in other locations such as mixed use areas, small settlements or rural locations, it will be necessary to assess more carefully the impacts of the expansion. Proposals will be resisted if the continued expansion of a firm would lead to an intensification of use resulting in an unacceptable impact on residential amenity, access, landscape, townscape or environment.

 

Other Key Policies:

 

EM6 Protection of Employment Land

The establishment of non-employment or retail uses on existing or allocated employment land and buildings will be permitted only where:

  1. no other suitable site is available for the development proposed;
  2. the site or building is no longer considered to be suitable for employment purposes;
  3. it would not result in an unacceptable reduction in the supply and range of employment sites in the area; or
  4. the proposal would bring about the removal or satisfactory relocation of a non - conforming or potentially polluting use from the site or building.

13.34 It is important to maintain an adequate supply of B1, B2 and B8 employment land and buildings in the Plan area. Its loss can result in a cumulative reduction in local job opportunities, forcing people to travel further in search of work and harm existing business linkages and support networks. This policy aims to prevent the loss of employment land for uses such as housing and retail which can be located elsewhere.

13.35 However, the policy recognises that there will be circumstances where it would be unreasonable to prevent other uses or development. A number of criteria would need to be satisfied such as the availability of other suitable sites for the proposal and whether the existing site or building is still considered to be suitable for employment uses given factors such as its location, accessibility, size, configuration and condition. A further criterion is whether the loss of the site or building would harm the ability of the locality or settlement to attract employment development due to a lack of a range of sites or premises. A final scenario is where the existing use of the site or building is 'nonconforming' or ‘potentially polluting’ i.e. it has the potential to, or already is, harming the amenity of local residents or land uses or the environment through noise pollution, traffic level or other impact. In such cases, the removal or relocation of the nonconforming use to a suitable site, enabled by an alternative use, may bring about overall benefit.

 

EM7 Bad Neighbour Industry

Development which is potentially polluting, hazardous or significantly detrimental to amenity will be permitted only on:

  1. employment sites allocated under policy EM1 and permissable under policies EM3, EM4 and EM5; or
  2. suitable brownfield sites or derelict, underused or vacant land;

provided that:

  1. the site is not visually prominent or is well screened;
  2. it would have no significant restrictions on the use or development of surrounding land;
  3. it is of a type and scale which is compatible with both the site and surrounding area;
  4. it would not result in unacceptable harm to landscape, townscape, the historic or natural environment, residential amenity or public health and safety; and
  5. the proposal provides satisfactory on site parking, servicing and manoeuvring space and that the highway network (including access and egress) is adequate to safely cater for the type and volume of traffic generated by the proposal.

13.36 Bad neighbour industries, such as the handling and storage of waste materials, scrapyards, coal yards and particular industrial processes are usually those which pose the greatest risk to air and water quality, flora and fauna, or health and safety. Whilst the Council places a high priority on job creation, this will not be achieved at the expense of public safety or environmental quality. Employment sites allocated under policy EM1 (although not all) are considered to be the most appropriate locations for such industries provided that they conform to this and other relevant policies of the Plan. There may also be other suitable sites within the County such as brownfield land and derelict, vacant and underused land including sites associated with previous mineral workings.

13.37 It must be stressed however, that in all instances proposals involving such uses will be the subject of a rigorous assessment in order to establish their likely impacts. In many cases an Environmental Assessment will be required and specialist consultants may be employed to assess the potential impact of a proposal. In cases where formal assessment is not required, supporting information will still be required in order to enable an informed decision to be made as to the impacts of the development (Policy GEN5).

 

Other Key Policies:

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