Agenda Item 11 by DaronMackey

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									                                                       Agenda Item 11
West Area (Planning) Committee
6th August 2009
e-mail: myfanwy.mcnally@hounslow.gov.uk

Proposal:                Heathrow Airtrack- A proposed new rail service
                         linking terminal 5 at Heathrow with London Waterloo,
                         as well as areas south and west of London, including
                         Reading and Guildford.

Drawing numbers:         TWA plans (sheets 1-13)

                         TWA sections (sheets 14- 29)

                         Footpath plans

Submitted Documents:     TWA order application:

                             •   Draft Transport and Works Act order
                             •   Explanatory memorandum
                             •   Statement of aims
                             •   Report summarising consultation undertaken
                             •   List of consents, permissions or licences
                             •   Applicant’s statement of funding
                             •   Estimate of costs of carrying out the proposed
                                 works
                             •   Request for planning permission

                         Book of reference

                         Environmental Statement:

                             •   Volumes 1 – 7
                             •   Non-technical summary
                             •   Addendum

                         Design and Access Statement

                         Review of alternative depot sites

Application received:    24th July 2009


1.0   SUMMARY

1.1

2.0   TRANSPORT and WORKS ACT (TWA) order

2.1   Heathrow Airport Limited have applied to the Secretary of State for a
      Transport and Works Act Order. Orders under the Transport and Works Act
      1992 authorise transport schemes and are determined by the Secretary of
      State for Transport. A wide range of matters can be authorised by a TWA
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      Order, including powers to construct, alter, maintain and operate a transport
      system; compulsory powers to by land; the closure of roads and footpaths;
      provision of temporary alternative routes and powers for making bylaws.

2.2   A TWA Order does not in itself grant planning permission but the applying
      organisation can ask the Secretary of State under section 90(2A) of the
      Town and Country Planning Act 1990 to grant planning permission for any
      development described in the Order. Heathrow Airport Limited have
      formally applied for this consent.

2.3   Once submitted. There is a 42 day period for making comments or
      objections. In this case, given the timing of the application in the summer
      holidays, this period has been extended to 56 days and a response is
      therefore due on the 18th September 2009.

2.4   The Department for Transport guidance indicates that it is not uncommon
      for a responder to support a scheme generally but to object to a part of it
      which affects their own interests.

2.5   At the end of the objection period, if there are objections, the Secretary of
      State has 28 days to decide how the matter will proceed. In a similar
      manner to planning appeals he can decide whether the matter should
      proceed on the basis of an exchange of written representations, a hearing
      or a public inquiry. From the timetable given, it is assumed that Airtrack will
      be examined at a Public Inquiry.

2.6   At the end of the Inquiry, the Inspector reports to the Secretary of State who
      then determines the Order application. The only rights of appeal against the
      decision are to the High Court on a point of law or failure to follow correct
      procedure.

3.0   THE PROPOSAL

      The Scheme

3.1   The Airtrack scheme comprises the following four elements.

         •   Rail links from Guildford- Heathrow (stopping at Chertsey), Reading-
             Heathrow and Waterloo-Heathrow providing normally a half hour
             service from origin.

         •   New rail link from Staines to Heathrow across Staines Moor.

         •   New elevated rail chord through Staines Town Centre

         •   New Train depot at Feltham. An indicative layout of the depot as
             provided with the application is shown at Figure 1.




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FIGURE 1: Feltham Depot




      Works contained within our Borough

3.2   The proposed Depot will comprise:

         •   A maintenance workshop enclosing four tracks and including a
             jacked lifting line, wheel lathe, bogie drop area, stores and facilities
             for maintenance staff and drivers;

         •    stabling tracks to accommodate 19 five car trains, each 105m in
             length, including toilet cleaning and fresh water tanking areas;

         •   a train wash facility;

         •   electrical substation;

         •   drainage holding tank;

         •   a new access road via Godfrey Way, including a new bridge over the
             River Crane;

         •   permanent emergency access, as well as regular staff pedestrian
             access from Harlington Road East (A312), west of the site;

         •   a 30-space car park; and

         •   exit and entry track connections to the main line.

         •   Road access and turning space for articulated delivery vehicles and


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         •   Landscaping along sensitive boundaries

         •   A train wash facility

3.3   The design of the maintenance shed is only indicative at this stage,
      however, in order to contain the airtrack fleet, the building would need to be
      approximately 115m long and 45m wide. This size of building would only
      house five car trains. Given that the documentation received highlights the
      need for the depot to be able to accommodate ten car trains in line with
      Government proposals to increase capacity by 2011-13, there is the
      potential that either trains will be worked on outside of the maintenance
      shed, or that a larger shed will be needed. Further clarification is required.

3.4   The design and access statement provides that a typical depot building
      would comprise a steel portal frame designed with column spacing and
      clear heights compliant with the functional requirements of the building
      accommodation. In this case the illustrative plans provided (and shown
      below for reference) indicate that the building would be approximately 13m
      high.

3.5   The external walls would be constructed using a composite cladding system
      or similar to provide a fully weatherproof and waterproof building. There
      would be twelve roller shutter doors to serve the wheel lathe tracks, stores
      and bogey drop. The doors would be finished to complement the
      surrounding cladding. Details of finishes would be reserved for our
      determination should the Order and planning permission be granted
      (Condition 39 of the submitted Draft Planning Conditions).




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3.6   Vehicular Access would be via a new road, extending from the existing
      Godfrey Way along the southern side of the Royal Mail site, across the
      Crane River, into the eastern end of the depot site. A new bridge across the
      River Crane will be required. It is proposed that full details of the proposed
      vehicular access would be submitted to the Council prior to occupation of
      the servicing facility (Condition 37 of the submitted Draft Planning
      Conditions).

3.7   Given the proximity of the western end of the site from Feltham station and
      bus routes in this area, a pedestrian access is proposed from Harlington
      Road East. Full details of this access have not been provided. The new
      road from Godfrey way would also include pedestrian access, linking into
      the existing footpath network.

3.8   A 1.8 m high fence would be erected around the entire site to deter
      trespassers. Additional landscaping is also proposed to help screen the
      site from adjacent housing and open spaces. Landscaping is to be provided
      along the eastern boundary inside the depot fence, along the southwestern
      edge of the depot and along the north side of the Main Line, within the rail
      corridor. Condition 40 of the submitted Draft Planning Conditions, provides
      that the authority will be able to approve final landscaping details should
      approval be granted, however it is noted that the extent of landscaping is
      only described and not indicate on plan.

3.9   Given that the Airtrack proposal would add two trains per hour per direction
      there will be an impact on the operation of the existing level crossing at
      Bedfont Lane. The revised timetable would bring three more barrier
      closures per average daytime hour but they will generally be over a minute
      shorter. As a result Airtrack would result in 3% more barrier downtime.

4.0   THE FELTHAM DEPOT SITE

4.1   The site lies directly to the south of the Windsor Main Line. There is
      residential development to the north and partially to the west and southwest
      of the site, with the Royal Mail site to the east. Green Belt land adjoins the
      site to the south.

4.2   The site was operational as a depot from 1917 until 1965, but has been
      vacant since this time. Given this 40 year period of inactivity and the site’s
      variable ground material the site provides a matrix of different habitats and
      now “supports some of the best wasteland flora in London” (Ecology
      Handbook 15, London Ecology Unit, 1990). As a consequence it has been
      designated as a Site of Metropolitan Importance for Nature Conservation.
      The site is also designated as Green Belt.

4.3   The site also forms part of the wider Crane Valley. In recent years the
      importance of the Crane valley has been given more prominence, including
      the formation of the Crane Valley Partnership by BAA some four years ago.
      This group has membership from the five boroughs covering the valley
      (Harrow, Ealing, Hillingdon, Hounslow and Richmond) as well as the
      Environment Agency, Thames Water, GLA, English Nature, Royal Parks,

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      London Wildlife Trust (LWT) and Friends of the River Crane Environment
      (FORCE) among others.

4.4   A proposal to increase the size of the existing Crane Park to provide a
      continuous managed green valley park linking Twickenham Station in the
      east with Hounslow Heath in the west is also currently being progressed by
      the Friends of the River Crane (FORCE). This project has received a recent
      boost on receipt of £400,000 from the Mayor’s Priority Parks programme.

4.5   The site has been retained by network rail as operational land and is
      strategically located on the Windsor Line between Heathrow and Waterloo.
      However, given the designation of the site as Green belt and as a Site of
      Metropolitan Importance for Nature Conservation, it is necessary to
      establish whether or not there are any special circumstances that would
      justify development of depot within the Green Belt, and whether or not there
      are any more appropriate sites for these activities.

5.0   SITE SELECTION

5.1   The applicant’s have submitted ‘A review of Alternative Depot Sites’ as a
      supporting statement with the application. This document states that the
      sequential steps in the site selection process were as follows:

      1) Define the area of search

      2) Explore the availability and suitability of existing depots and sites
         currently in railway industry ownership;

      3) Draw up a list of other sites in the area of search screening out those,
         which are most unlikely to be suitable or available as follows.

      4) Eliminate locations where a site of the requisite dimensions could not be
         assembled without extensive relocation and demolition or existing
         residential, industrial, or commercial areas, or closure or realignment of
         major roads, rivers or other infrastructure. Development of land with
         these characteristics is likely to be extremely controversial and/or entail
         unacceptable additional cost and delay even if powers could be
         obtained;

      5) Eliminate sites with equally or more compelling environmental
         designations e.g. SSSIs, listed buildings, AONB etc.;

      6) Eliminate sites used for recreational purposes that would be impractical
         to relocate;

      7) Exclude sites with significant topographical problems or attractive
         landscape features such as “climax” woodland;

      8) Compile a list of the remaining farmland sites against which to compare
         Feltham;



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5.1   The search area and potential existing and new sites are identified. These
      sites are then compared against both operational and planning policy
      criteria to assess their practicability and suitability for an airtrack depot.

      Existing Depots

5.2   Two existing depots (Feltham and Staines) were identified within the core
      search zone, and four (Reading, Strawberry Hill, Clapham Junction and
      North Pole) were identified in the secondary search zone.

5.3   The existing depot at Staines has a capacity for 32 coaches, but is at
      capacity and is too small for a depot. There is also some land on the old
      embankment, however, the useable area is too limited as the River
      Wraysbury runs between the Windsor Line and the embankment. This site
      is also within the green belt.

5.4   In the secondary area of search the existing Reading depot is too small for a
      depot, and the Strawberry Hill depot does not have enough capacity for
      Airtrack’s requirements with additional berthing capacity required at another
      depot.

5.5   The Clapham Junction Depot is unsuitable, mainly because it is already 80-
      90% utilised and additional space would need to be found elsewhere to
      create maintenance and stabling for all the Airtrack fleet. Further capacity
      would still need to be found for the SWT 10-car programme, so Clapham
      could not be a substitute for providing additional capacity overall. It is also in
      the secondary area of search and would thus incur additional operational
      costs and inefficiencies.

5.6   The final existing depot is the North Pole depot located on the great western
      main Line at the northern end of the West London line that links Clapham
      Junction with Willesden Junction. The depot was used until 2007 for the
      maintenance of the Eurostar trains and is currently vacant. Whilst the site
      has excellent facilities there are difficulties with the site layout that would
      preclude its use for overnight stabling. However, the main problem for
      Airtrack is rail access and the availability of paths at Clapham junction is
      very limited. The same inefficiencies of operating outside the core zone also
      exist as with the Clapham Junction depot and there is also an added
      concern that the site will not be available in the long term as it is required for
      the servicing of a new fleet of trains to be introduced in 2015.

      New Sites
5.7   The review of alternative depot sites is currently being assessed in relation
      to possible ‘new’ sites that do not already contain a depot. The submitted
      report indicates that there are no other non-railway sites in urban areas that
      are not similarly constrained with green belt or other statutory environmental
      designations that are large enough for the depot and stabling facilities. With
      the exception of four sites south of Wokingham (where four potentially
      suitable sites have already been allocated for housing redevelopment), all
      possible alternatives are also green belt. From this, six alternate sites are


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      identified to be compared with Feltham. This information is currently being
      considered.

6.0   IMPLICATIONS

6.1   The Environmental Statement has been prepared to assess the impact of
      the Airtrack proposal and comprises 7 volumes. Given the time constraints
      it has not been possible to undertake a full assessment of this document for
      this report. However, various Council departments are working on the
      various volumes in order to respond formally to the proposal. This section of
      the report will provide a brief summary of the issues as outlined in the
      document.

      Ecology

6.2   The Environmental statement concludes that the Airtrack depot will cause
      the permanent loss of 60% and the temporary loss of a further 10% of the
      site that includes some botanically rich, although not rare habitats. This will
      have a significant impact on a site of metropolitan Importance for nature
      conservation. It is proposed that this be offset by the use of the proposed
      depot roof as a biodverse green roof and the reuse of the substrates from
      the site for habitat creation at Pevensey Road Local Nature Reserve. It is
      acknowledged that this will offset but not mitigate the impact, which will
      remain significant.

6.3   The statement also acknowledges that the site is of regional importance for
      insects and as a feeding site for bats that roost in the existing culvert.

6.4   Much of the detail as to how various species are to be protected is to be
      contained within the Code of Construction Practice, which has not been
      submitted and would be secured at a later date through condition (Condition
      2 of the submitted Draft Planning Conditions).

6.5   Water Voles: There has been no evidence of Water Vole activity in the
      section of the river affected by the access road and bridge proposal. There
      is some concern that the bridge may isolate communities of voles and would
      shade a 12m width of the riparian habitat. The statement concludes that the
      shading is unlikely to result in fragmentation of the vegetation and voles are
      known to readily pass through 20m culverts resulting in a minor adverse and
      not significant impact.

6.6   Bats: It is proposed that mitigation will be undertaken during construction to
      ensure that bats are not temporarily disturbed during this phase and no
      adverse effects are predicted. Lighting of the site access road and bridge
      could impact on bat commuting and foraging activity along the Crane. This
      would be an ongoing impact during the summer months when bats are
      active. However, it is proposed to mitigate this by limiting the impact of the
      lighting on the bats through the placement of fixtures thereby maintaining a
      darkened corridor.

6.7   Reptiles: The report proposes that any reptile populations on site will be
      translocated to ensure compliance with the Wildlife and Countryside act,

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       and the full details of this are to be addressed in the Code of Construction
       Practice and in consultation with Natural England.

       Flooding/Drainage

6.8    The site is generally higher than surrounding areas, so whilst it is unlikely to
       flood itself, there could be an impact on surrounding land uses and the River
       Crane. To reduce runoff, the following measures are proposed:

          •   Filter trenches to serve track drainage

          •   Preamble paving and/or swales to serve roadways and

          •   All draining to a sub-surface retention tank incorporating an oil
              interceptor that would discharge via a hydrobrake into the River
              Crane.

6.9    The possibility of adopting rainwater harvesting or green roof on
       maintenance sheds and other buildings is another option that is being
       considered.

       Impact on adjoining residents

6.10   With the construction of the new maintenance shed and associated facilities
       and the resultant loss of existing vegetations, as well as the introduction of
       lighting, there will be significant visual impacts for residents overlooking the
       site, and those using the surrounding land both during construction and
       operation.

6.11   The statement outlines that additional landscaping will be planted around
       the boundary as early as possible, including the area of land to the north of
       the railway, adjoining the rear fences of properties along Durham Avenue.
       However, until this matures, there will be a significant visual impact on
       surrounding residents. It should also be noted that there is minimal room to
       provide a landscaped screen for residents along the south side of Cygnet
       Avenue who will have views of the maintenance shed.

6.12   The maintenance building will be used 24 hours a day. The statement
       concludes that with the planned noise mitigation the operation of the depot
       is unlikely to give rise to any significant noise increase to residents either
       during the day or at night. The mitigation strategy is currently being
       assessed by Council officers, however, it is noted that during construction it
       is expected that there will be significant noise at various times of the day for
       residents of some 200 houses on Durham Road, Cygnet Avenue, Hereford
       Road, Queens Road, Carisbroke Close and Corfe Close, as well as for
       people using the skills Centre at the end of Boundaries Road.

6.13   Lighting details are yet to be provided, however, this will also potentially
       have a detrimental impact on residents in terms of light spillage outside and
       onto the site.

       Bedfont Lane Level Crossing


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6.14   Currently six passenger trains pass the level crossing at Bedfont Lane in
       each direction every hour during the day resulting in some seven closures
       and a total downtime of some 36 minutes in an average daytime hour.
       Airtrack will add two trains per hour per direction. The revised timetable will
       bring three more barrier closures per hour, resulting in 3% more barrier
       downtime.

       River Crane Park and Access through the site

6.15   Redevelopment of this site as a depot represents a major permanent loss of
       environmentally important land and green open space from the Crane
       Valley. This will have a significant impact on proposals to extend the
       existing Crane Park to provide a continuous managed green valley park
       linking Twickenham Station in the east with Hounslow Heath in the west.
       No details have been provided as to how this impact will be mitigated.

6.16   Further discussion is also required with regard to Network Rails outstanding
       obligations in the relation to the previous agreement for the Royal Mail site,
       which included the provision of a permanent north-south corridor with
       footpath and cycle path links and monies for the long term support of these.

7.0    CONCLUSIONS

7.1    The Airtrack proposal will improve access to Heathrow for a significant
       number of people, including local residents and potentially reduce traffic in
       the area as a result. However, there are clearly local impacts that need to
       be considered.      Council officers are currently working through the
       documents submitted in order to accurately assess these impacts. As part
       of this process comments and objections made from local residents will also
       be taken into consideration.

7.2    Member’s comments and concerns are welcomed in order to formulate the
       final response that will be sent to the Secretary of State for Transport. It
       should be noted that further negotiations with the applicants is likely
       regardless of our response to the proposal in relation to potential mitigation,
       draft conditions of consent etc.

8.0    RECOMMENDATION

8.1    That member’s comments on the scheme be considered as part of the final
       submission to the Secretary of State for Transport.




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