PLANNING APPLICATION: CASE REF: 22/00569/OUT
INTRODUCTION from The Heath Park Team
Welcome to the FAQ section of our Heath Park website. Following our meeting with Beechwood and Heath Councillors 23 November 2022, we have jointly agreed the questions listed below.
If there is a question we haven’t covered please let your Councillors know and they will relay it to us.
If you have any comments on the proposals they need to be addressed to Halton BC Planning as it is they who will take your views into account in determining the application. Click here for HBC Official Form.
The FAQ list will be updated regularly.
Formerly the chemical headquarters of ICI and a vital employment centre for Runcorn, The Heath Business and Technical Park was created over 20 years ago following ICI’s decision to close the site and sell it to SOG Ltd. SOG has turned the once single-occupancy site into a multi-occupancy location which is acknowledged as one of the country’s leading independently run business and science parks.
Owned and operated by SOG Ltd, The Heath is today home to 121 individual companies that between them support over 2,000 jobs. Once a strictly private site, SOG has ensured The Heath is now an important and easily accessible community asset for the Borough of Halton. The Heath’s numerous events spaces, café and leisure facilities are open for use by local residents and community organisations with a wide range of functions hosted for people of all ages, from toddlers to senior citizens. For further details visit: Home – The Heath Business and Technical Park
Heath Park will provide a positive future for the communities of Weston, Heath and Higher Runcorn and the wider area.
For two decades The Heath has been nationally recognised as a highly successful and innovative business and technical park. However, looking to the future, SOG’s biggest challenge revolves around making a site which was constructed in the 1960s fit-for-purpose to meet the difficult challenges of climate change.
The Heath now stands at a crossroads. Although a successful business whose model has been successfully translated to other sites around the UK, its buildings and infrastructure are ageing and require significant investment. Standing still is not an option.
The vision for Heath Park evolved from a global competition, staged by RIBA (the Royal Institute of British Architects) and sponsored by SOG, which challenged architects, designers, planners and forward thinkers to create a sustainable futuristic environment, powered by renewable energy, where people can live, work and play. This competition generated over 50 entries from across the world and formed the foundation for a dynamic regeneration vision described as a ‘Beacon Project’ by Liverpool City Region Mayor Steve Rotheram. The aim is for Heath Park to become a 21st Century eco-friendly version of Port Sunlight.
For more than three years a team of experts appointed by SOG have methodically researched and validated how the location can be regenerated in a realistic and commercially viable venture for ethical investors. Predicted trends for future living including employment, housing, leisure, community, transport and energy consumption have been assessed in a feasibility study, carried out in conjunction with Lancaster and Liverpool Universities, to scrutinise the potential for the site.
This research exercise has led to the submission by SOG for outline planning permission of its masterplan to reinvigorate the site. The award-winning vision for Heath Park has been acclaimed locally, regionally and nationally. Heath Park is now one of 35 ethical schemes promoted by the UK in the Government’s Global Investment Atlas – one of only two projects showcased from the Northwest and Wales.
In conclusion, it is not a real estate proposal. It’s ethos is the health and well-being of a sustainable, interdependent living and working community designed to evolve over time and able to adapt to social, environmental and economic change. It takes its cue from Port Sunlight and intends to be a 21st+ Century version of a place where people can live, work and play.
SOG Group are the owners and operators of The Heath Business and Technical Park in Runcorn,
SOG was formed from the Site Operations Group of ICI. John Lewis was a founder member of SOG in 1999 along with former ICI managers. John had worked on the site as a contractor since 1977. He ultimately became the major shareholder in SOG in 2010. For more than 20 years John has been the driving force to secure The Heath Business and Technical Park as a key employment and community asset for the Borough and has been the inspirational figure behind the vision to create Heath Park.
The Heath Business and Technical Park is currently home to 124 individual businesses that between them support the employment of around 2,000 people. It has also opened facilities on site for use by the local community.
SOG also offer specialist technical support and services to the resident businesses many of whom are at the very cutting edge of scientific R&D, providing high-quality employment in Runcorn.
For further details visit: Homepage – SOG
The land North of Heath Road South is owned by the SOG Pension Fund.
As of 29th November the current status of the application is:
The scheme has an approach to social and environmental sustainability which proposes a sustainable balance between people and the environment. The amounts of development have therefore been determined such that positive environmental and social benefits are achieved. This approach has received global recognition having been included in the UK’s first Global Investment Atlas (promoted by the Department for International Trade) and has also resulted in receiving the prestigious Pineapple Award for Future Place (sponsored by the Design Council).
Although the Project requires a fair return on investment, its main drivers are the creation of a living/working community with health and well-being at its core.
First of all the scheme is designed to futureproof the employment opportunities presented at The Heath, by protecting jobs and skills and introducing new industries and technologies that will attract high quality employment in to the area. The scheme complements existing businesses in the area. It is anticipated that growth in the coming years will increase demand and opportunities to existing businesses to expand.
No jobs will be lost, the scheme will create well in excess of 1,000 more jobs than currently exist.
This is known as MUA10 in the draft local plan, which is The Heath Business and Technical Park, circa 46 acre site and is currently designated as primarily employment. However, it has been identified by Halton Borough Council over the last 14 years, as a desirable mixed use environment.
Both the main site and the land to the north of Heath Road South have been extensively surveyed over recent years and results have confirmed there are no contamination issues to prevent development. This has been certified by Halton Borough Council and consequently ICI removed all previous ICI restrictive covenants in 2019. This has been further validated by Halton Borough Council on 08th June 2022 as part of the Phase 1 Preliminary Risk Assessment for this planning application (Phase 2 levels of investigation were included in the assessments).
Specifically, it has been confirmed by specialists (commissioned by SOG and HBC) that contamination risk from the former Weston Quarries (HCBD and others) is not present now or will be in the future.
This will be a phased development and completion will likely be within 10 years. This will be subject to some external factors, such as phasing of the development plan to minimise disruption to existing resident businesses and neighbours. Additionally external factors, although Heath Park is not dependent on such, the delivery of the Hynet hydrogen infrastructure may influence the sequence of development.
A broad-brush assessment of additional places needed as a result of Heath Park was carried out during the feasibility stage of design development and this indicated that capacity is available. This will be looked at in more detail at the detail planning stage.
The site is currently private land, owned by the SOG Pension Fund, and the proposed masterplan will see it improved in landscape and ecological quality and opened up to public access.
This application seeks to develop circa 6 acres of this low grade land only, with the rest remaining ‘as is’.
It is important to note that the North Site is part of one scheme, which includes The Heath Business and Technical Park and we have identified circa. 22 acres of new publicly accessible greenspace that will greatly increase the quality of landscape and biodiversity that can be shared for generations to come.
Heath Park’s impact on the environment has been one of the more important drivers (along with health and well-being) behind the scheme. An independent study by Liverpool John Moores University shows improvements across the board to the environment (eg. Climate regulation, noise, pollution and air quality).
Improvements to landscape quality and enhancements to habitat are built into the scheme, chiefly through the introduction of the “Pylon Meadows” and new connections between green spaces.
We are proud that the scheme will provide environmental improvements across the board as part of our mission to provide a place which promotes health and well-being for all.
In conclusion the environmental impact will be overwhelmingly positive as the scheme has introduced 3 times more publicly accessible high quality greenspace.
545 fit-for-purpose, carbon negative residential units of various sizes and types. Amongst many features, it also addresses a problem that has been growing over recent years in Runcorn by providing the opportunity for local residents who do not wish to leave the area, but wish to downsize, to release existing larger housing stock more suitable for families.
The type, size and location of the various units are designed to be adaptable, inclusive, zero-energy solutions for an inter-generational living and working community.
See schedule in planning application form at APP_2200569OUT.pdf (halton.gov.uk)
It is a sustainable way of growing food close to where it is consumed with vertical farms at the moment growing mainly leafy green crops such as lettuce, spinach and herbs. The produce is grown in layers stacked one on top of the other in a closely controlled environment. The range of plants that can be grown is expanding all the time; strawberries, blueberries and wheat are among some of the crops that are currently being trialled.
We have also commissioned a study of the social benefit a Vertical Farm could bring. Our “Field of the Future”, a circa 5,000 sq.m. building, will result in a contribution of some £14M/year to local health, education and climate improvement.
The main challenge is the considerable energy needed to power lighting and maintain suitable temperature and humidity. The Heath Park “Field of the Future” will be powered by clean energy by using hydrogen from the forthcoming HyNet hydrogen pipeline network. SOG, in conjunction with The University of Liverpool, carried out a controlled experiment at The Heath which shows that food can be grown with hydrogen power in a Carbon negative way: i.e. We can grow food AND reduce carbon dioxide at the same time
Throughout the development cycle our bespoke process “The Fusion Process” is referenced.
The Fusion Process is a five-stage, systematic and consistent approach to designing and delivering real estate developed by SOG Ltd that aims to combine multi-disciplinary team’s skills and knowledge to deliver cohesive, creative solutions by considering the site as part of a wider economic, social and environmental system, with a focus on vision and values throughout the development process.
The full document is linked here: FUSION WEBLINK
If you have any general enquiries about Heath Park, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
or, please call us +44 (0)1483 801092 / +44 (0)7974 674876