Jodrell consultation zone

JODRELL BANK Observatory’s 6 mile Consultation Zone:

“Planning applications for developments within this Zone are referred to the Observatory, which may object if the proposed development is likely to degrade the performance of its telescopes.

A steady growth in the use of consumer products which generate radio emissions, either deliberately (mobile phones, wireless intruder alarms, etc) or as a by-product of their operation (computers, microwave ovens, etc) has made the protection afforded by the Consultation Zone increasingly important in recent years. “  Prof. Simon Garrington

But, it has to be said, JBO are at the forefront of Astrophysics – world leaders in the research of quasars, pulsars, gravitational lensing and in the development of interferometry – they are not planning consultants.  Within the 6 mile Consultation Zone they try to be accommodating and suggest suitable building materials if a proposal is not too threatening to their research [due to existing shielding from houses or topography or distance].  But surely if they object to a development within their 6 mile Consultation Zone then that development should be refused.

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    Is the above included as part of planning policy both at local and national level so that if Jodrell Bank says “no” then a development will not be passed even on appeal?

    This does not appear to be the case at present; Jodrell Bank may object in strong terms but their opinion is given little weight in the decision making process.

    Michael Jones statements are encouraging but meaningless unless the position can be clearly defined and implemented consistently both at local and national level.

    If Jodrell Bank is the “Jewel in Cheshire East’s Crown” and worthy of protection then surely such Policy should be agreed and implemented as a matter of urgency.

    • Reply

      Policy SE14 is the key policy in the Emerging Local Plan which states:-
      Policy SE 14
      Jodrell Bank
      1. Within the Jodrell Bank Radio Telescope Consultation Zone, as defined on the Proposals
      Map, development will not be permitted if it:
      i. Impairs the efficiency of the telescopes; or
      ii. Has an adverse impact on the historic environment and visual landscape setting of
      the Jodrell Bank Radio Telescope.
      2. Conditions will be imposed to mitigate identified impacts, especially via specialised
      construction techniques.

      Further guidance may appear within the Site Allocations document.

      However, in practice is is very difficult for JBO to demonstrate how the efficiency of the telescope is impaired by any one development. We saw this with the Twemlow appeal when challenged by an Astrophysicist not involved in research at JBO, JBO unfortunately crumbled when presented with a different opinion. In reality the only people who are qualified to comment on the impact on JBO, are JBO themselves. It’s not any one development that causes the harm, its the general increase in numbers of houses around the observatory that causes the harm, this occurs when one development sets the precedent which can be used for other developments in the area. Developments such as Twemlow currently set the precedent. It’s the distance from the observatory that is the key, the Twemlow development is nearer to JBO than the proposed Hermitage Lane development and only comprises 13 houses, when considering the comparative distance from JBO, JBO confirmed the 27 houses at Hermitage Lane has a similar effect in terms of interference to the Twemlow development. This is why the planner said for the Hermitage Lane planning statement that JBO’s objection could not be sustained. Similarly, If development of 60 houses went forward for the Grange (which is 1 mile from JBO), this would set the precedent allowing the development of 120 houses at Hermitage Lane in the future, and far more houses within JBO’s consultation zone.

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