Local developments

A Statement from Merton Council - Rainbow Estate

The Future of the Rainbow Estate
About the Current Draft Planning Brief
The document that is currently under consultation is the draft planning brief for Rainbow Industrial area, known in planning legislation as a "supplementary planning document".
Merton's Core Planning Strategy 2011 (summarised) says that any planning application for the Rainbow site that proposes land uses other than industrial and warehousing must be guided by a supplementary planning document, adopted by the Council, setting out how the site will deliver employment-led regeneration.
So, to try to answer the questions as to at what stage a planning application might be put forward:
  • if Workspace wanted only research & development, light or heavy industrial and / or warehousing development on the site, we'd advise that they could submit a planning application at any time
  • However, if any uses other than industrial or warehousing are to be considered on the site, a planning application should only follow the adoption of a supplementary planning document, setting out how the site would deliver "employment led" regeneration.
The consultation on the draft supplementary planning document for Rainbow will finish on 25 July, these six weeks are exactly the stage that local residents, businesses, and anyone else with a view, should ask us questions and make their opinions known to the council as to what they think should or shouldn't happen on the site.

Yes, Workspace have provided the resources to produce the draft Rainbow supplementary planning document and are putting in the resources to print and promote the consultation, simply because Workspace have the resources to do so. Council resources are limited for this kind of work. We wouldn't have been able to undertake this in the foreseeable future without extra resources. Producing a supplementary planning document for any site provides clarity to those living and working in the area, to Councillors, council officers, neighbours and to the landowner as to what could happen on a site, and provides an opportunity for people to influence this in addition to the standard three weeks associated with planning applications. Particularly in the case of Rainbow, I think that additional clarity and a chance for residents to influence what the site may or may not contain is very necessary as there have been a number of potential proposals for this site in recent years.

 However please be assured that the consultation draft has been reviewed, and rewritten in parts and thoroughly checked by us and would not have been recommended and published as a consultation draft to ask others what they think of it if we weren't satisfied that what is proposed could be one of the ways of meeting "employment led regeneration" on the site. This is a council document. I am sorry if having "Merton Council and Workspace Group" on the front cover has given rise to any confusion or concern - this was certainly not intended and please accept my apologies for this - and the names were both included on the cover in an effort to be totally transparent. 

There is no single definition of "employment led regeneration". In assessing the potential for the site officers considered a number of matters including the potential number of jobs and the nature of jobs that could be supported on Rainbow, the potential number of businesses supported, and alternative types of employment that could be supported by the site.
"Employment led regeneration" necessarily means solely employment uses on the site. As I mentioned before, under Merton's Core Planning Strategy there would be no requirement to produce a supplementary planning document if the site were to be redeveloped solely for many types of employment uses such as research & development, industrial and warehousing. A draft supplementary planning document has been produced because other uses are proposed on the site as well as employment.
After the consultation closes we (the council) will consider all of the responses carefully (and publish all responses on the council's website) and use these and any other relevant evidence (for example, any more details on the potential impact on nature conservation, infrastructure etc) to recommend changes to the document.
Before the council adopts any supplementary planning document, it has to publish a "statement of community involvement" setting out a summary of what responses were received, and what action was taken as a result of these responses. I hope this helps reassure people at least a little that this is the opportunity to influence the brief and that the process is transparent.
The final supplementary planning document must be recommended to Merton's Cabinet by council officers for adoption. There isn't a specific date for this as it will depend on the results of the consultation, and how this and any other relevant information influences the final document.
The final document provides a guide for development on the site which sets out clearly to everybody what should be expected from any planning application for the site. A subsequent planning application will provide details and would have its own period of public consultation as with every planning application to the council.
Tara Butler
Programme Manager - Strategic Policy and Research
Future Merton
London Borough of Merton
London Road
Morden SM4 5DX





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