Ocado's plans for delivery hub next to primary school dealt a blow by council

The council has questioned whether the site's delivery and distribution planning status is valid

Friday, 5th June 2020 — By Sam Ferguson

Ocado protest

OCADO’S plans to build a delivery and distribution hub next door to an Islington primary school could be under threat as questions are raised over the planning categorisation granted to the site.

The food delivery giants have been under fire since December after plans emerged for a delivery hub in the Bush Industrial Estate, just metres from Yerbury Primary School.

Parents and residents were particularly concerned about the environmental impact of a proposed diesel refuelling station on the site, as well as the safety implications of around 100 delivery vans making two trips a day from the site.

Council leader Richard Watts and Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn both spoke out against the plans.

As previously reported by the Tribune, Ocado said they would adapt their plans in the face of the community’s hostility, and pledged to run a fully electric fleet from the hub.

But today (Friday), the Tribune can reveal a letter has been sent by the council’s legal services team to the owners of the site, Telereal Trillium, which could signal the beginning of the end for Ocado’s plans.

In April last year, as previously reported, a lawful development certificate was granted to Telereal, with whom Ocado is thought to have signed a long term lease, after a change of use application was signed off by council officers.

That certificate confirmed the usage of the site as B8 – storage and distribution – which would allow Ocado to operate their delivery hub. It was signed off on the basis of a statutory declaration that the site was continuously used for storage and distribution since at least 1992.

But campaign group Nocado – made up of Yerbury Primary School parents and community members who oppose the plans – have submitted a pack to the council refuting Telereal’s claims.

The group has put together a body of evidence they say supports the revocation of the site’s B8 status. The council’s legal letter to Telereal could start the process of revoking it.

The letter, seen by the Tribune, reads: “On the basis of that material, if it is correct, it appears that there was no use of Units C&D from 2006-2011 (at least) and no use of any o the site at all from 2015. IT appears that the information in the statutory declaration was false and that material information was withheld.

“Leading counsel has advised that on those facts the grant of the Certificate would not have been sustained.”

The letter also notes that the council is not at this safe claiming the declaration was deliberately false.

Telereal have been invited to comment.

It’s understood a copy of the council’s legal letter was sent to Ocado as an interested party. Ocado are also understood to have submitted their new planning application this week, which does not include diesel pumps further to their plans to run an all-electric fleet from the site.

A spokesman declined to comment on the legal letter, but said: “Having secured an agreement with UK Power Networks to deliver a significant power upgrade we are revising our proposals for our spoke facility at the Bush Industrial Estate. This includes our plans to operate the site with 100% electric Ocado vans, from its outset.

“This will see us invest in one of the largest electric van fleets in the country which will revolutionise the way we deliver groceries in the borough and mean that our overall emissions in Islington and the surrounding areas will fall.”

A spokeswoman for the Nocado campaign said the group applauded the council for “starting the revocation process”.

“It is our view, shared by Islington Council, that Telereal should never have been issued the Lawful Certificate of Planning for this site,” they said. “The result would be an intense 24-hour logistics depot, clogging up our streets with hundreds of deliveries a day.

“We have not seen any evidence that Ocado have withdrawn their application for diesel storage tanks on the site. Nor have they made any legally binding commitment to electrify it either.

“In addition, their proposal only cover the vans. No mention is made of the lorries, cars or scooters they would be using. This could result in thousands of additional journeys a week, if, as they have previously stated, they run their 1-hour Zoom service from the site.

“Our Nocado campaign has consistently stressed the concerns of the community, who have vocally opposed having a noisy and polluting depot built metres from Yerbury School playground. We know the damage this would cause to the health of our children, residents and local businesses.

“The council received over a thousand objections to Ocado’s plans. We will continue to demand answers from Ocado as to why they haven’t provided any environmental, traffic or noise impact assessments for their plans.”

An Islington Council spokesperson said: “We have written to Telereal Trillium and Ocado about the certificate of lawful use for the site and await their response.  We will consider that response before making any decisions on the lawful use of the site.”

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