FAQ: The Site

  • Where is the plant application sited?

    The site is on available land at Hillthorn Farm, an area identified for development in an industrial setting large enough to accommodate the proposed Renewable Energy Centre.  

  • What was the former and existing use of the site

    The site was previously used as agricultural land, as part of Hillthorn Farm, but has recently been used as a construction compound to support the development of the adjacent Vantec warehouse. It is now vacant having been prepared for development as part of the A19 Ultra Low Carbon Vehicle Corridor Enterprise Zone works, which also include the construction of Infiniti Drive. 

    The site is also part of a wider area of land which has been allocated for employment uses in the adopted Sunderland Unitary Development Plan (UDP) since 1998.  Under the emerging Sunderland Core Strategy and Development Plan 2015-2033, the site will continue to be allocated for employment uses, being identified as a ‘Primary Employment Area’. 

  • Why has the Sunderland site been selected?

    The site is of sufficient size to accommodate the Renewable Energy Centre and is located in an area allocated for employment development with many existing employment uses in the vicinity. The site is also close to a number of industrial and commercial companies with large energy requirements who have potential to become customers for the heat or energy. 
    The proposals also ensure that waste can be treated close to its origins, avoiding unnecessary transportation out of the region, and its position close to main roads and motorways means that that traffic associated with the facility will not need to run close to or through residential areas.

    The North East produces a significant volume of feedstock, i.e. RDF and residual waste which research commissioned by Rolton Kilbride indicates will be sufficient in volume to meet the requirements of the facility. 

  • Have any other alternative sites been considered?

    The application site is appropriately located: it is within a designated employment area close to a number of existing industrial and commercial uses. It is in an area that is not environmentally sensitive, with no statutory protected landscape, nature conservation or heritage sites within the site, and is not included within designated green belt, the extent of which lies to the northern side of the A1290. It is recognised that a local nature reserve lies a short distance to the south-east of the site, but no adverse effects to this are expected. The site’s proximity to the road network is one of the main reasons for selection as well as the neighbouring industrial and commercial uses, which could potentially be recipients of the generated heat and/or electricity.

    The presence of land subject to green belt designation and identification of land for other uses and/or safeguarding for future development severely restricts the available land suitable for accommodating this development. Rolton Kilbride has considered other sites in the immediate vicinity, but none of these were considered preferable in relation to operational requirements, availability or potential environmental effects.

  • What do local planning policies say about the selected site?

    The site has been allocated within the adopted Sunderland UDP since 1998, which designates the site as an existing employment area to be retained and improved.  The emerging Sunderland Core Strategy and Development Plan 2015-2033, which is currently being prepared, seeks to allocate the site as a Primary Employment Area. The site is also within the A19 Ultra Low Carbon Vehicle Corridor Enterprise Zone.  The site benefits from excellent transport links, industrial processes nearby and is in an industrial location, the site therefore fulfils key planning requirements.

  • Who is responsible for granting planning permission?

    Sunderland City Council is the Local Planning Authority responsible for determining the planning application. The planning application has been submitted and the Council has consulted with statutory consultees to seek their views on the proposed development. Members of the public also had an opportunity to contact the Council to state their views.  

    The Case Officer will now consider the details of the planning application and how it complies with the policies of the statutory development plan, and other material considerations, including the views of the statutory consultees and members of the public.  The Council will then prepare a report to inform the planning committee of the details of the application and make a recommendation as to whether the proposals should be granted planning permission or not, and state the reasons why. 

  • What size would it be?

    The Renewable Energy Centre main building will be approximately 140m long and 65m wide, with the highest point of the roof 36m above ground level. The Turbine Hall will measure approximately 32.6m long by 20m wide x 22m high and a Gatehouse 4.9m long x 6.57m wide x 3.8m high. There will be other structures and plant, which will generally be located adjacent to the main building.  The flue stack will measure 57m high.

    The size of the buildings will be set into context against other buildings in the location.

  • Where can I find the plans?

    The plan are available on the documents page of our website here. Details of the planning application process can also be found on Sunderland City Council’s website here.