Report by Alistair Wilson to Cllr Julie Smith on proposed use of Jesus Green by EDF Energy
1. Executive Summary
EDF Energy is seeking to use part of Jesus Green for a temporary site compound for works required at Thompson’s Lane sub station. Jesus Green is owned by the City Council, and is registered common land. For EDF to be able lawfully to use Jesus Green for this purpose, it would need:
i) Planning consent;
ii) Consent from the Secretary of State under Section 38 of the
Commons Act 2006; and
iii) The City Council’s consent as landowner.
This report asks the Executive Councillor whether the Council should give its consent as landowner to this proposed use of Jesus Green.
The Executive Councillor is recommended to refuse permission for the use of part of Jesus Green by EDF Energy as a temporary site compound.
3.1 EDF Energy made a Planning Application (09/0087/FUL) on the 12th February 2009, through their agent MLM Consulting Engineers to use part of Jesus Green for a temporary site compound for works required at Thompson’s Lane sub station.
3.2 The application proposed a site compound to be in place for eighteen months, in connection with work to renew the electricity substation in Thompson’s Lane. The application proposed the area be surrounded by a 2.4m-high plywood hoarding, to be painted olive green. Within this would be space for storage of materials and plant, ten car or van parking spaces, and four demountable buildings in two stacks of two, to provide office space and
Report Page No: 2 toilets. At the south-west end of the site, a lay-by for delivery vehicles would be created alongside Park Parade, separated from the trees by a post-and- rail fence. The whole area would be surfaced with hardcore.
3.3 At the end of the period of work on the substation, the site area would be recovered with topsoil and seeded with grass, and the whole avenue of cherry trees to Jesus Lock felled and replaced with new flowering cherry trees.
3.4 This was a valid planning application accompanied by the correct certificate of ownership, and it was considered by the City Council in the same way as any other planning application.
3.5 The Planning Officer recommended refusal.
3.6 The application was refused by the Development Control Manager acting under delegated powers on the 9th April 2009, and the letter of determination was sent the same day. EDF have the right of appeal
Pre Planning Application Considerations
3.7 Previously EDF have worked on Jesus Green to lay cables which they have statutory powers to carry out this work. A payment was made with this way leave agreement, to permit the work. These statutory powers do not extend to placing a compound on Jesus Green in connection with works at another location.
3.8 Other sites considered before making the planning application include Jesus Green on the eastern side adjacent to Victoria Avenue, this was discounted due to disruption to traffic, the route taken from the site to Thompsons Lane, and for arboricultural reasons.
3.9 A vacant site at the top of Castle Hill, was discounted as it was too small.
Status of Jesus Green
3.10 Jesus Green is designated as Common under the City of Cambridge
Act 1985, Part II, Section 7. As registered common land, Jesus Green has
special statutory protection and the land could not be used as a compound
without the approval of the Secretary of State, under the Commons Act
2006. EDF indicated on the 19th March 2009 their intention to submit an
application under Section 38 to the Secretary of State.
3.11 The City Council owns Jesus Green and therefore has the same rights
as other landowners, subject to not interfering with public rights that attach to
common land. Therefore, the City Council’s consent would be needed for the
proposed use by EDF even if the latter obtains planning consent and
Report Page No: 3
consent under the Commons Act. Subject to statutory powers (such as
compulsory purchase), the City Council is entitled to refuse or permit the
use, or access to, Jesus Green for purposes unconnected with its status as
City Council considerations
3.12 The City Council has to decide as landowner whether it will or will not
permit this use of the common regardless of whether the Section 38 consent
can be obtained.
3.13 The proposal to use Jesus Green as a temporary compound will have
significant impact on users and their enjoyment of the amenity. There is no
balance to drawn as the strategic importance of work to the substation has
not been detailed.
3.14 The Friends of Jesus Green have discussed this proposal at an
Extraordinary General Meeting and are opposed to the use of part of Jesus
3.15 Representations to the Planning application were received from:
• Park Street C of E Primary School
• Park Street Residents Association
• Save Our Green Spaces Cambridge
• Savills acting on behalf of St John’s College
3.16 The representations can be summarised as follows:
• Loss of open space of recreational importance
• Harm to the character and appearance of the conservation area
• Loss of trees, including a memorial tree
• Difficulty of ensuring proper restoration of the Green afterwards
• Other sites could be used, such as Park Street car park
• Work should have been undertaken before 24 Thompson’s Lane
• Site is Common Land
EDF Consideration post Planning Application determination
3.17 EDF and their Agent are currently considering the car park of Henry
Giles House 73-79 Chesterton Road as a suitable alternative.
Purpose of report
3.18 This report is brought to Community Services Scrutiny Committee to
determine whether or not the City Council will permit the use of Jesus Green
for a works compound for EDF work.
5. Background papers
The following background papers were used in the preparation of this report:
• Report by the Planning Officer in relation to 09/0087/FUL
• Correspondence from EDF
• Correspondence with Friends of Jesus Green