Developers try to reassure on green belt plan

DEVELOPERS seeking to allay concerns over a new business park on green belt land between an East Yorkshire market town and Hull insist a buffer zone will keep a clear gap between town and city.

Artist's impression of the proposed Yorkshire Energy Park

A second round of public consultation gets underway tomorrow over the controversial plans to develop grassland west of Hedon, which was once Hedon Aerodrome, before plans are submitted to East Riding Council later this year.

A new masterplan, revealed today, includes a 60-acre “ecological mitigation zone” closest to Hedon which developers claim will “honour” the “important” physical gap. However many say there should be no development at all on the flood-prone area and “the last remaining barrier between the city and Hedon.”

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Development proposals include a data centre and 1m sq ft industrial business park with uses “targeted at end users with significant energy and data requirements” using energy generated on site from gas by up to three operators and 120,000sq ft of storage and distribution.

Aerial view of Yorkshire Energy Park

Sports clubs, which use the Hull Council-owned site, would get a new clubhouse and pitches for rugby, football and other sports. The largest and highest buildings would be built to the west of the 200-acre site.

Nicola Rigby, of property consultancy Bilfiger GVA, said: “The first time we came out we were quite open and said we had a blank sheet of paper. We are now at a stage where we have a masterplan which we are in the process of testing against a series of technological considerations, highways, flood risk, noise and a number of others.”

The developers say they will have to demonstrate they are not going to have negative impact on a road network that is “already struggling” and have pledged to invest in local infrastructure.

They claim only 10 per cent of traffic will come through nearby Preston, which is a notorious bottleneck.

Another aerial view of Yorkshire Energy Park

Chairman of East Riding Council and town councillor John Dennis said they had to abide by the results of a referendum in 2014, in which the vast majority of East Riding residents opposed extending Hull’s boundaries.

After seeing the latest plans he said he’d seen nothing to change his mind: “The people of Hedon, who we are paid to represent, 95 per cent of the 75 per cent turnout, said: ‘Thanks, but no thanks, we don’t want it.’ We are here to safeguard the interests of local people who said ‘no’ to any development on that site.”

And Mayor of Hedon Neil Black said it would be a “hell of a job” to convince planners after five years consultation to change the local plan, which has it allocated as a key open area. Even if it got approved it would still have to go to Whitehall as a departure from the local plan.

He said: “In our first conversation they were aware of the situation but for some reason they are carrying on. Hedon would be best served by leaving it as it is.”

Aerial view of Yorkshire Energy Park

More than 850 people have joined the Say No To Yorkshire Energy Park, which lists concerns ranging from flooding to air pollution. However Gordon Wilson, chair of Eastside Community Sports Trust, said they would support the plans, if it meant new facilities: “We have the best part of 1,000 kids there are the moment. The building is dilapidated and we have run it voluntarily between six of us since 2008. It’s getting harder and harder all the time.”

Another aerial view of Yorkshire Energy Park