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Development management policies

DM27 development at Norwich Airport

Policy DM27 Norwich Airport

Within the airport boundary falling within Norwich city, as defined on the Policies map, development will be permitted where it is for:

a) airport operational purposes;

b) uses ancillary to the function of the airport; and

c) facilities providing improved transport links.

and where proposals would not conflict with the overall sustainable development criteria set out in policy DM1 of this plan or the requirements of policy DM28 in relation to sustainable travel.

Where necessary, development must include mitigation measures to reduce impact on neighbouring uses.

Development for alternative uses will not generally be supported in advance of the endorsement of an agreed masterplan for the airport, including a Travel Plan and Sustainable Access Strategy, or it is otherwise demonstrated by objective evidence that land is not required for operational Airport use.

Supplementary text

27.1    The NPPF states that when planning for ports, airports and airfields that are not subject to a separate  national policy statement, plans should take account of their growth and role in serving business, leisure, training and emergency service needs. Plans also should take account of the principles set out in the relevant national policy statements and the Government framework for UK aviation.

27.2    Norwich International Airport is of major importance as a strategic transport hub, a key business driver for the local and regional economy and an employer in its own right. Located at the northern edge of the city on the A140 abutting Hellesdon, Catton and Horsham St Faith, its operational boundaries extend further north into Broadland district.

27.3    Norwich was one of the 30 national ‘Major airports’ identified for potential growth in the 2003 aviation white paper The future of air transport. Further development of the airport and other regional airports in the south-east was supported in principle to cater for local demand, subject to relevant environmental considerations. Local and strategic planning policy for the airport is thus founded on the expectation of potentially significant, albeit responsibly managed, expansion.

27.4    The JCS sets out the strategic planning context for Norwich International Airport, identifying it as a principal provider of international connections from the area. It supports improvements at the airport to expand business and leisure opportunities and provide for expansion of services to a wide range of international and domestic destinations.

27.5    The government’s Aviation policy framework was published in March 2013. It seeks to take account of the positive and negative impacts of aviation, achieves a sustainable balance between them and integrates aviation policy with wider government objectives, including delivering sustainable economic growth, combating climate change and protecting the local environment.

27.6    Alongside its advice on planning for airports and its strong emphasis on facilitating economic growth, the NPPF stresses the need for planning to support reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. Developments that generate significant movement should be located where the need to travel will be minimised and the use of sustainable transport modes can be maximised. Local planning authorities should ensure that opportunities for sustainable transport modes have been taken up depending on the nature and location of the site, to reduce the need for major transport infrastructure, and show that safe and suitable access to the site can be achieved for all people.

27.7    As a result of the strategic priorities set out in the JCS, the airport policy focuses on the need to enable the airport to continue to function effectively, to accommodate a new transport interchange and to grow. This includes meeting the needs for growth in passenger numbers, freight, offshore operations, executive travel, general aviation and maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) activities.

27.8    The city council acknowledges the critical importance of airport expansion in supporting wider economic growth in and improving transport links to and from the Norwich area as set out in the JCS. However it is essential that such growth should be planned and managed sustainably. It is clear that detailed considerations of development potential, layout, design, zoning and the disposition of uses and their interrelationship need to be addressed in a comprehensive masterplan alongside a travel plan and an airport surface access strategy (a statutory requirement) which makes appropriate and necessary provision for sustainable travel.

27.9    All of these are seen as critical by the city council and its partner planning authorities in order to put in place an appropriate strategic framework to manage airport expansion and inform the consideration of future major development proposals within the airport boundary. In advance of a masterplan, any significant development proposals at the airport would be required to maximise sustainable access and provide for integrated travel planning as recommended by the NPPF and required by policy DM28 of this plan.

27.10 The Airport company have confirmed their intention to begin work on a comprehensive masterplan in 2015. In advance of this, neither this local plan nor the equivalent one in Broadland (both with partial coverage of the airport) can pre-empt the process by imposing a masterplan or stipulating what must be in it, albeit that any masterplan prepared by the airport company would need to be endorsed by both Norwich city and Broadland district councils. In the interim, a development management policy for the airport must necessarily be fairly flexible and deal only in broad principles, sufficient to deal with any ad hoc planning applications pending the emergence of the masterplan, also having regard to the relevant policies of this plan and those of other local plans.

27.11 The airport is a major employer in its own right and is adjacent to a large industrial estate, jointly owned and managed by the city and county councils, which is a defined employment area under policy DM16. Many occupiers are in airport related business. The JCS identifies the need for a further 30 hectares of new business park land for airport related employment. Such a large area of land will not be available within the city council boundaries and accordingly major new employment development may need to be accommodated in adjoining districts or by redevelopment providing more efficient use of land in existing employment areas. To enhance facilities and increase its attractiveness for airport related businesses, beneficial regeneration, redevelopment and rationalisation of landholdings within the Airport Industrial Estate (alongside improved transport and access links between the estate and the airport itself) are priorities for the city council.

27.12  At present, strategic access to the airport is poor. The JCS proposes access enhancements through the Northern Distributor Road (NDR) and public transport improvements on the A140 corridor to the city centre. This would require a public transport interchange at the airport and may include the relocation and expansion of the present airport Park and Ride to a site to the north, adjacent to the NDR. Government funding for the first stage of the NDR from Postwick to the airport was confirmed in December 2011: this funding allocation is conditional upon progress being made on the sustainable transport elements of the Norwich area transport strategy, which include bus rapid transit and improvements for cycling and pedestrians within the Norwich urban area. As of Autumn 2014 the NDR is going through the formal development consent and examination process for nationally significant infrastructure projects and (subject to consent being issued) is expected to be completed in 2017.

27.13  Whilst most of the airport’s anticipated needs can be met within the present airport boundaries, the Site allocations plan also proposes an area of land between the airport and the A140 (The Paddocks – site R30) as a potential extension. In addition, the present park and ride site has been included within the airport boundary as the JCS and NATS implementation plan make provision for the park and ride site to be moved. The revised policy designation within the airport boundary would not extend the current operational land of the airport. Development of these sites would not therefore have the benefit of permitted development rights covering the rest of the airport.

27.14 To provide for short-term development needs within the airport boundary, the policy restricts development firstly to operational uses, such as new hangars and extension to buildings; secondly to those non-operational uses which support the airport’s function, such as training facilities and offices supporting airport uses and thirdly to transport improvements. More major developments, in particular the JCS’s requirement for expand business and leisure opportunities, are unlikely to be appropriate for consideration as ad hoc planning applications and the council’s expectation is that such major development proposals must be assessed in the context of a masterplan.


  • NPPF: CLG, 2012: Section 4: Promoting sustainable transport: accommodate the efficient delivery of goods and supplies; provide infrastructure to support sustainable economic growth, support reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and congestion; consider the growth and role of airports in serving business, leisure, training and emergency service needs, Travel planning for developments which generate significant amounts of movement.
  • National Planning Practice Guidance, CLG 2014: Travel plans, transport assessments and statements in decision-taking.
  • JCS policy 6: Access and transportation.
  • JCS policy 9: Strategy for growth in the Norwich Policy Area.
  • White Paper: The Future of Air Transport, Department for Transport, December 2003.
  • Aviation Policy Framework, Department for Transport March 2013.