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Ratcliffe on Soar power station site granted planning permission to fast-track investment

Last updated: 14/7/2023

Ratcliffe on Soar power station site has received Local Development Order (LDO) planning permission status that could fast-track new investment, green industry and business projects and potentially create thousands of permanent highly-skilled jobs.

Rushcliffe Borough Council’s Full Council meeting passed a vote in favour of the order at a meeting yesterday (July 13).

The power station, owned by international energy company Uniper, will close at the end of September 2024 in line with government policy to end coal-fired power generation.

The LDO could now increase the speed at which planning processes could be progressed for a range of modern industrial uses and the vision for the site sets out guiding principles by which any development could be brought forward, including:

  • A zero-carbon technology and energy hub for the East Midlands
  • Highly skilled, well-paid jobs
  • Modern industry and business uses, served by on-site sustainable energy generation and storage
  • Advanced manufacturing and low-carbon energy production, for example to produce electric car batteries
  • A hub for research, development, and innovation, through links with universities, business support organisations and established industry.

Leader of the Council Cllr Neil Clarke MBE said: “We look forward to working together with Uniper and the relevant partners of the East Midlands Freeport and Development Corporation on projects to realise the vision of the site with international investment that could create an estimated 7,000 jobs.

“The possible range of modern manufacturing and research uses on the redeveloped site, still subject to independent planning processes, is hugely exciting.

“The power station is such an iconic landmark in Rushcliffe and the East Midlands, it is vital it evolves to continue to be a site of national importance.

“This LDO simplifies and streamlines the planning process for large sites such as this and without it there is a risk of piecemeal and unplanned developments. 

“It sets policy to control development and raises the bar on the type of development and jobs it could attract as this potential prime investment arrives in the Borough.

“It’s also a flexible planning tool and can respond to changing circumstances and provides clarity, certainty and clear route through planning for investors.

“There’s government support to deliver this LDO and a Council cross-party group has met over the last 18 months to shape this order, with public consultations showing general public support.

“Retained business rates will be invested in local infrastructure and road improvements, tying in with our environmental priorities. This will allow us to continue to protect environmental aspects and to work with local communities regarding road and traffic issues.”

“Retained business rates will be invested in local infrastructure and road improvements, tying in with our environmental priorities and continued commitment to protect and enhance the environment and to work with local communities regarding road and traffic issues.”

The LDO being granted follows the creation of a design guide and masterplan for the site that was prepared to support the redevelopment, which will guide growth and development at the site over the coming years.

Peter O’Grady, Plant Manager, Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station, said: We are very pleased with the decision by Rushcliffe Borough Council to grant Local Development Order status for the Ratcliffe site.

“This flexible and efficient approach to planning will help to encourage the investment needed to deliver our vision of a lower carbon future for the site.

“This is particularly significant when there are so many examples of former power station sites being left vacant for many years once they’ve closed.

“This is why we’ve been working with regional stakeholders to avoid a similar fate at Ratcliffe, and we see the LDO as an opportunity to secure the site’s long-term future, so that it can continue to play an important role in the future.

“Ratcliffe is in a great location, with good transport links and excellent utilities infrastructure. It has the potential to become a site of regional and national importance, supporting the UK’s green growth ambitions, creating new high-skilled employment opportunities and ensuring the contribution the site makes to the local economy is not lost.

“We have already received significant interest from businesses looking to locate to the site in the future. And Uniper looks forward to continuing to work stakeholders such as RBC, East Midlands Freeport and Development Corporation, to deliver the masterplan for redevelopment of site.”

Part of the power station site is designated as the East Midlands Freeport, the UK’s only inland Freeport, which provides the catalyst to lever significant international investment in the Borough.

East Midlands Freeport Chair, Nora Senior, said: “I’m delighted that the Ratcliffe development order has been approved.

“Securing new global investment in the region and driving cutting edge green growth are at the heart of the Freeport. The LDO provides greater certainty at the outset for the types of development to be permitted and allows the planning process to be more responsive and agile.

“EMF is committed to establishing good design principles which will support the creation of an international Freeport gateway.” 

Local residents and businesses had a chance to have their say on the proposals in a series of consultations in 2021 and 2022.

Revisions to The Order saw it address permitted uses on the Southern Area and land south of the A453 to those limited specifically to low carbon energy production and storage or manufacturing uses delivering the net zero transition.

It also outlined limiting the amount of development which can be occupied before road improvements are delivered or there is agreement for their delivery to ensure that local roads are able to cope with increased traffic levels.

There will be development of a public transport strategy before new development can be occupied or brought into use at the site.