Western Docks Consultation Forum has been founded in response to current and suggested development within Southampton Western Docks. It aims to act as a channel for local peoples’ concerns, and ideas, relating to the impact of Docks development and activity on the adjoining communities, and the city.
WDCF has started talks with Southampton City Council on these matters, and will wish to extend this process to discussions, and even involvement in negotiations with ABP and port-related businesses.
Principal issues leading to WDCF’s foundation have been:
- A 100MW Wood-fired Power Station covering 20 acres on the site of the former AC Delco works and adjoining land – the Helius company proposal from February 2011, which could yet be presented as an application to the Planning Inspectorate
- A Sulphur Processing Plant for Oxbow Inc. on a 1 acre site at West Bay Road (in line with Cracknore Road, Freemantle) permitted, summer 2013, by Southampton City Council
- Bulk cargo handling of Ferrous scrap, Glass Cullet, Road Salt and Woodchips on sites surrounding KG5 Dry Dock, Berths 107, 108 & 109 plus part of the former AC Delco works site. These developments have caused wide environmental impacts including noisy operation (even at night), fugitive dust and a major Autumn 2012 scrap fire with, possibly toxic, black smoke billowing across Millbrook ward, Freemantle, Shirley and Southampton City Centre.
- Docks traffic volume issues, on the public road network, involving HGVs, cruise passenger and other cruise-related traffic, generating extensive and severe congestion across the city, air pollution and road traffic hazards.
- Noise, air and light pollution from Docks operations, including at night.
Currently Southampton City Council has limited control over development in the Docks. This is because ABP, along with other major port operators in the UK, has Permitted Development Rights under the government-approved General Permitted Development Order (which is amended from time to time with Parliamentary approval).
These PD Rights mean that ABP Southampton is effectively its own planning authority within the Dock boundary, so has no need to apply to Southampton City Council for planning consent for any of its own port operations-related development.
Development on Dock land by another organisation eg by Helius or Oxbow, especially if it is not directly related to port operations, however does require planning consent.
Issues in the near future
As the country begins to make some economic progress from the serious 2009 Recession, and the following years of stagnation, we may see new development and other pressures appearing within the Docks and Southampton.
a. The cruise industry, for example, has been resilient through the last four years. New and bigger Southampton-based ships are to be introduced in 2014 and 2015. Southampton needs to get on top of the road traffic challenges further cruise business expansion may pose.
SCC, ABP, cruise operators, even WDCF and others need to co-operate, pooling their ideas and efforts to ensure that this business can grow yet operate in harmony with everything else going on in the city.
b.There may be progress, say through the next five years, on physical city centre developments like West Quay 3 (aka Waterside West Quay) and the Central Waterfront (aka Royal Pier Waterfront).
These are not without controversy in terms of content and traffic generation. If they progress they will need to fit in with the rest of the business and communities of the city (including Freemantle and Millbrook wards), and again with port activities.
c. Other opportunities crop up from time to time to make Southampton a pleasant and successful place for everyone. Sometimes these can be missed. WDCF can work with the community, other concerned organisations across the city, the City Council and commercial firms to ensure Southampton becomes the Best it can Be.