Expert witness work at the Anglia Square development’s public inquiry

05 March 2021

In 2020, Aether’s Melanie Hobson provided expert witness work on behalf of Weston Homes work for the public inquiry into the application for planning permission for the proposed Anglia Square development in Norwich.  

The application was made by Weston Homes Plc and Columbia Threadneedle for planning permission for the comprehensive re-development of Anglia Square and adjacent land on Edward Street in Norwich. The proposal consisted of the demolition of existing buildings including shops, offices and a public multistorey car park, with construction of up to 1,250 dwellings, hotel, ground floor retail and commercial floor space, cinema, multi-storey car parks for shoppers and residents, place of worship and associated highway and public realm areas.  

The Inspector recommended that the application be approved, and planning permission granted. However, the Secretary of State disagreed with some of the Inspector’s conclusions relating in particular to the impact on heritage assets and refused planning permission. The Secretary of State did however agree with the Inspector that in view of the Air Quality Assessment findings and conclusions, air quality was not a matter that weighed against the granting of planning permission.  

For example, one aspect considered was that the Air Quality Assessment undertaken by Aether included two modelling scenarios which considered expected improvements in air pollutant emissions from the road vehicle fleet. These were: 

  1. A scenario utilising Defra’s Version 9 of the emission factor toolkit (EFT v9), which takes into account the latest assumptions on vehicle emission standards in line with the DfT and National Atmospheric Emissions Inventory’s projections, and 
  2. A CURED v3A scenario, which is based on a tool produced by Air Quality Consultants Ltd, in which no improvement in the NOx emissions from diesel cars are anticipated.  

Paragraph 557 of the Anglia Square Inspector’s Report states:  

“At the inquiry there was discussion as to whether, in principle, it is right to take account of anticipated improvements in air quality as a result of government policy. Although the Council did not take account of such improvements at the time it considered the application, it now considers that it is right to do so. I agree. The EFT User Guide 2019 [version 9], which is published by Defra states that: ‘It is a tool that allows users to calculate road vehicle pollutant emission rates for oxides of nitrogen and particulate matter for a specified year, road type, vehicle speed and vehicle fleet composition’. To my mind that that makes it clear that Defra is expecting anticipated changes in vehicle emissions to be factored in to assessments such as this. The Wealden Local Plan examination, where the Inspector commented that it would be unreasonable to assume no improvements over time, is an example of this approach in action.” 

In addition, many other useful comments were made by the Planning Inspector, which will influence how air quality impacts and exposure are taken into account in housing developments elsewhere in the UK.  

See all news

Testimonial

Don't just take our word for it...

“Both the face-to-face training and the online version have been of high quality, with dynamic methods and a practical orientation that have allowed students to reach a solid knowledge base. The products have been delivered within the stipulated deadlines with an excellent quality and the team has always shown willingness to make adjustments according to the requirements of CONAF. We are very satisfied with the work. ”

Javier Cano Martín, Professional Unit for Climate Change and Environmental Services, CONAF (National Forestry Corporation), Chile

“Saint Lucia embraces the professional approach with which this project was undertaken by Aether, particularly their ability to develop mentorship relations with local government experts. This provides a basis for ensuring that the pool of local experts remain engaged and recognized over successive processes.”

Annette Rattigan-Leo, Chief Sustainable Development and Environment Officer

“A heartfelt thank you to all the Aether team for this very comprehensive review – this is certainly turning out to be one of the most beneficial capacity building projects I have ever been involved in.”

Saviour Vassallo, Senior Environment Protection Officer, Malta Resources Authority

“Aether is a great partner for work in the area of European Air Emissions. The team was committed, reliable, well organised and had a deep technical understanding and motivated other partners with their good spirit.”

Umweltbundesamt: Environment Agency Austria

“Aether's approach to couple innovative visualisation with high expertise manpower delivered valuable insights for our inventory work.”

Umweltbundesamt (Germany)

“The Aether team were a joy to work with and I would recommend the consultancy - the service provided throughout the process was exceptional. Where there were problems, they provided solutions. The team were working to very short time scales but were able to deliver a high quality piece of work within the specified time frame.”

Sefton Council - for the Merseyside Atmospheric Emissions Inventory

“If we have a need for any more reports in the future Aether will be first on my list.”

Alan Hardy, Kyson Design

“The team at Aether works very professionally and communicates very well which makes working with them a pleasure. Outputs are delivered on time to high quality. The team brings the rigour of technical knowledge and expertise and finds innovative ways of communicating complex messages. I would be happy to recommend the Aether team to organisations working on analysing and presenting emissions information in the public domain.”

Fiona Glover, States of Jersey

“It has been a pleasure to work with Chris Dore and Richard Claxton from Aether: they did their job in a very professional and timely manner. The workshop was organized and carried out in a cooperative spirit; the information provided to the workshop participants was complete and clear.”

Alina Novikova, UN/ECE Secretariat

“It is always an absolute pleasure working with Aether. I always know what is expected of me. Their work ethic is of a very high standard and projects are always handled in a very professional manner. I have learnt many skills in terms of project management, quality control and workshop training styles from Aether and I hope to carry these principles forward in my own work. I look forward to collaborating with Aether more in the future.”

Luanne Stevens, Gondwana

Contact us

Get in touch

Call us on +44 1865 261 466, complete the short form below, or go to the Contact page

 Security code