Proposed Residential Development Land to the west of Newtown Road, Highbridge Design and Access Statement

1 .0 In t ro d uction

1 2 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 12 13

2 .0 S it e a nd surrounding area 3 .0 Po li c y Considerations 4 .0 Co n st r aints
Site access & highways issues Flooding Ecology Archaeology

5 .0 Th e Pr oposals
Lay out and appearance Lan dscape Access

6 .0 Co n c lu sion

Land to the west of Newtown Road, Highbridge

1.0 Introduction
The Newtown Road site lies on the western side of Highbridge. The site is currently occupied by Delta Engineering and includes a modern single storey office building located at the entrance to the site off Newtown Road, tarmaced areas used for car parking, several warehouse units, yard and hard surfaced areas. On the southern part of the site is a privately owned track from Newtown Road which leads to the pumping station and the boatyard. Sedgemoor District Council’s adopted Local Plan allocates the application site for housing under Policy H17. The Plan recognises that the site forms a large redevelopment opportunity close to the centre of Highbridge. This application seeks to bring forward the development of the first phase of the H17 allocation. The development of the H17 allocation in two phases will not prejudice the comprehensive development of the site. The application site (phase 1) is separated from the boatyard site (phase 2) by a public footpath and a major public sewer that links the water treatment works to the west of the site with the works to the south of the River Brue. The surrounding area consists of mixed residential developments to the north, south and east, the boatyard (accessed from Clyce Road) to the south, a pumping station to the west and open space within Apex Park to the north of the application site. The site is in proximity to, but outside, the defined Severn Estuar y area with its many nationally and internationally important wildlife designations including RAMSAR, Special Protection Area, Special Area of Conservation, Site of Special Scientific Interest, National Nature Reserve and County Wildlife Site status. The application site lies within the flood plain as identified on the Local Plan proposals map. Outline planning permission (including details of the proposed means of access) is being sought for the site’s residential development comprising a mix of flats and houses. The proposal is described in more detail in the accompanying Design and Access Statement


Land to the west of Newtown Road, Highbridge

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2.0 Site and surrounding area
The site subject of the application comprises 2.8 hectares of land at the western end of Newtown Road, some 400m west of the defined town centre and is allocated for residential development in the Adopted Local Plan. The town centre is approximately 400m east of the site with direct footpath connections available allowing easy access for pedestrians via Newtown Road and Tyler Way. The town centre offers a wide range of services and facilities as well as employment opportunities, and these are supplemented by the Western Industrial Estate and IslePort Business Park further to the east. St. Johns Junior School and the King Alfred Secondar y School are 400 and 600m north respectively. Access to the site is via Newtown Road. The site currently accommodates the premises of Delta Engineering but there are several underused buildings on the site and overall the visual appearance is one of a semi-redundant former industrial site which does not relate well to it ’s residential surroundings or make a positive contribution of the appearance of the area. The site is roughly triangular in shape with the apex at the eastern boundar y providing the site access onto Newtown Road. The northern boundar y abuts a footpath/cycle way set within a grass corridor, north of which are the mixed residential areas off Kiln Drive and Moorland Road which are 2 and 3 storeys in height and extend to the north and north-west. The southern boundar y of the site primarily adjoins existing 2 storey residential development off Sparks Way and Smith Way. At the western end the site abuts the existing boat yard to the south which is also allocated for residential development in the local plan.

Site Location Plan

Extract from Sedgemoor District Council Local Plan Proposals Map

Land to the west of Newtown Road, Highbridge

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2.1 Site and surrounding area
West of the site is the existing water treatment works, access to which runs along the length of the site’s southern boundar y in the form of a 3m concrete access road which connects to Newtown Road to the east. To the north and west of the treatment works is Apex Park, a County Wildlife site and area of informal open space. There exists three principal buildings on the site together with large areas of open storage associated with the engineering business. Nearest Newtown Road is a single storey storage building with low pitched roof and brick elevations. The eastern elevation which greets visitors and anyone approaching the site entrance is featureless save for one emergency doorway. Within the central area of the site exists a 4 bay, 2 storey warehouse building with pitched roof, whilst at the western end of the site is a ver y large 2 bay, 2 storey warehouse building also under a pitched roof. Given the utilitarian appearance of these buildings together with the open storage of large scale plant and equipment, residential redevelopment provides an opportunity to created a more sympathetic and visually appealing form of build development in an area already characterised by 2 and 3 storey houses. Further south of the site is the River Brue with the old river course forming a spur terminated by existing flood defences adjacent the western end of the site. The new course of the river runs south of the boat yard site eastwards toward the southern end of the town centre and is crossed by New Clyce Bridge, a footpath/cycleway which proceeds south from Clyce Road and links with a pathway heading due west towards the coast. The site is a brown field allocated housing site in a sustainable location

within the town. It is approaching the end of it ’s useful economic life and given the site constraints (see section 4) residential redevelopment is the most viable option as recognised in the Local Plan for the district.

Land to the west of Newtown Road, Highbridge

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3.0 Policy Considerations
The site is allocated for residential redevelopment in the Adopted Local Plan (September 2004) which is fairly up to date. Work is progressing in respect of the replacement Local Development Framework where a second round of issues and options consultation in respect of the Core Strategy took place between June and August 2007. In addition, the Council has published a draft Urban Potential Study for comment (July/August 2007) which continues to identify the site as suitable for residential development and will form part of the evidence base for the Core Strategy and Allocations DPD. The wider site including the boat yard is subject to Policy H17 of the Local Plan which states that: ‘The site forms a large redevelopment opportunity close to the centre of Highbridge. The boat yard site offers the opportunity for a riverside development which incorporates marine facilities. Access will be from Newtown Road. Provision is to be made for a cycle link from the adjoining Apex Park to the south side of the River Brue. This link would not only provide improved access to Burnham on Sea but would also form part of a wider recreational cycle path along the coast. The site adjoins the Bridgewater Bay National Nature Reserve and consultation with English Nature will be required.

P R O P O S A L H 17
Land west of Newtown Road and adjoining boat yard, Highbridge (as defined on the proposals map) is allocated for housing.’

Appendix 4.1 contains additional criteria for the development of allocated housing sites. The Design Brief for Policy H17 provides guidance for a comprehensive development to remove all industrial buildings and uses to enable the redevelopment of the site with a suitable range and mix of housing sizes and densities. Any development will be required to safeguard important natural features and the adjacent SSSI and minimise the visual impact of the development when viewed from Apex Park. The new estate road should incorporate access to the pumping station with existing vehicular connections to Clyce Road terminated. Pedestrain and cycleway access should be provided from Clyce Road to connect with the wider network of of public paths. The proposed development has been designed in accordance with both this guidance and national planning policy guidance, primarily in the form of Planning Policy Statements PPS1, PPS3 (Housing), PPG13, PPS9 (Nature Conservation) and PPS25 (Flood Risk).

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4.0 Constraints
Despite its somewhat open and semi-redundant appearance the site is heavily constrained by issues relating to flood defences, public rights of way and easements, access, contaminated land remediation, ecology, the linear nature of the site, multiple ownerships, etc, etc. Some constraints are purely physical and effectively determine the extent of developable land and the layout of the development (flood defences, easements and rights of way) whilst others have significant viability implications (decontamination works, increasing and finished levels, etc). Finally, due to the ecological sensitivity of the wider area studies have been commissioned to consider whether there are any less tangible impacts which require mitigation.

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4.1 Constraints
This section considers these constraints and the work that is being commissioned to address them, some of which takes the form of separate reports and analysis whilst others are addressed by the illustrative layout itself which shows that the site can be developed without resulting in any demonstrable harm to interests of acknowledged importance. Ownership issues mean that the allocation will come forward in 2 phases and it is therefore necessar y to demonstrate that the first phase subject of this application will not prejudice the implementation of any future phase on the residual boat yard land. This is demonstrated on the illustrative layout which shows access to the residual land maintained and enhanced and incorporates the important northsouth footpath cycleway link which can then progress over the new Clyce Bridge and beyond. Due to public rights of way and easements (see below) the siting of development illustrated in the application will not prejudice the ability to accommodate any form of development on the residual land due to the separation distances involved. The constraints plan identifies the route of 3 easements or rights of way which restrict the form of development. The existing access to the water treatment works can be realigned and provided by means of the new site access and internal road layout. The public foot path which runs east-west from Smith Way combined with the sewer easement in same area results in a strip of undevelopable land that will form a buffer and amenity area between the proposed development and future redevelopment of the boatyard site. The point of access into the existing site is narrow and not well defined. The footpath/cycle way access into Apex Park is poorly identified and the entire route is uninspiring and poorly surveilled, which will have a consequent impact upon levels of usage, as people may not feel comfortable to use it particularly in the evening. The proposed access design addresses these constraints and is discussed in more detail in the following section. A Transportation Assessment has been prepared by Peter Brett Associates. The study obviously identifies the sustainable location of the site and the potential for future journeys to be made by non-motorised modes of transportation. Existing pedestrian and cycle links will obviously be enhanced by the construction of the new links through the site which will enhance the permeability of the overall area. Otherwise, the wider road network can accommodate future vehicular traffic from the site and the residual boat yard land providing for up to 150 dwellings in total. No off site mitigation works are considered necessary but the enhancement of the footpaths and cycle ways on site combined with a Travel Plan Statement will provide real benefits in transportation terms. A further benefit will be a reduction in HGV movements associated with the existing industrial operation which could intensify significantly at any time.


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4.2 Constraints
Given the site’s location adjacent to the River Brue estuar y a Flood Risk Assessment has been prepared by consultant engineers Clarke Bond. Flood risk is obviously a serious consideration in this area and is becoming more so generally. However, the engineers have demonstrated that new flood defence measures can tie in with those that exist at present to fully mitigate the risks associated with tidal flooding in models predicting events up to 2110. The defences take the form of a slight increase in site levels across the development combined with bunds on the southern and western boundaries to protect against any tidal surge. These areas have been incorporated into the design in the form of more structural landscaping strips.

Extract from Environment Agency’s flood map

Land to the west of Newtown Road, Highbridge

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4.3 Constraints
Whilst the site itself does not have any nature conservation value, the surrounding areas of the Brue Estuar y are part of the wider Bridgewater Bay SSSI and Special Protection Area (SPA). As already noted, Apex Park is a County Wildlife Site (CWS) as is the non-tidal extent of the river Brue. Whilst there are some areas of interest on the site (grassland and the hedge on the western boundar y) these are of low ecological importance and in any event they will be largely unaffected by the proposed development or can be mitigated by specific replacement planting of species which areas on site. No evidence of protected species using the site was found during the various surveys as it is considered unlikely that any direct impact would result in the development. Disturbance to birds roosting at 2 sites in the estuar y was considered in detail following survey work and a thorough review A request for a formal screening opinion was submitted to the Local Planning Authority who subsequently confirmed that the proposed development was not EIA development and therefore no formal environmental statement is required. However, given the proximity of the sensitive of existing data sources. The assessment concludes that for a variety of reasons the proposed development is unlikely to adversely affect these areas. ecological designations an ecological assessment has been prepared by the Wessex Ecological Consultancy.

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4.4 Constraints
Due to the importance of the general area in archaeological terms an archaeological desk based assessment of the site was carried out by Bristol & Region Archaeological Services. The evidence suggests that the study area comprised undeveloped land from at least the mid 19th centur y and probably long before although early wharves on the site were in place on the northern bank of the Brue by the late 18th centur y on or ver y close to the site’s location. From the mid 19th centur y the site was progressively developed for industrial uses associated with the construction of new wharves following major alterations to the drainage of the Brue in the first decade of that centur y. Works also involved the development of railway sidings and yards serving the new dock facilities and this industrial use continued during the first part of the 20th centur y. In the second half of the 20th centur y the dock facilities were The desk based assessment found no evidence for features of archaeological interest even though it lies within an area of archaeological potential. The evidence also suggests that the area has undergone potentially damaging development with the construction works associated with the industrial use of the site. It is considered that a suitably worded condition requiring an archaeological watching brief during the initial construction phases of the proposed development would be appropriate. abandoned and the railway tracks were removed after 1958 although the site obviously remains in industrial occupation to this day.

Highbridge 1888

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5.0 The Proposals

DESIGN PRINCIPLES • • • • • • two and three storey to reflect context; cycle link through site; enhanced links to the cycleway/footpath along the site’s northern boundary; retain landscape buffer in north west corner; apartment blocks to overlook footpath/cycleway link to north; entrance/gateway feature required to development and footpath/cycleway link to north; • opportunity for landscaped buffer between site and boatyard; • opportunity for landscape buffer to housing to the south with flats providing surveillance; • create own sense of place within the development.


Land to the west of Newtown Road, Highbridge

5.1 The Proposals
The flood mitigation measures will screen the development from the south and west and offer increased protection for the adjacent SSSI. Thus, the layout is focused internally to produce a typical coastal village linear street pattern. The use of appropriate materials and architectural detailing will give a maritime feel to the development as a whole. The layout is focused on a central junction which provides the required access to the boatyard and water treatment works and opens up a vista towards the new Clyce bridge. A feature entrance to courtyard parking for units 59-69 will make an attractive focal point for the new internal pedestrian and cycle paths. These routes offer direct links into the existing rights of way network assisting the integration of the development into the surrounding area. Building heights have been restricted to no greater than three storeys to respect the predominately low rise housing surrounding the site . Three storey elements have been used to for the gateway building and to add interest to the overall skyline. Three storey apartments were alos considered appropriate for the northern central section of the site where overlooking from habitable rooms and communal activity will be beneficial to the security and safety of people on the cycleways and footpaths. The existing access to Delta Engineering is narrow and runs parallel to the cycleway access to Apex Park. By combining the two entrances the layout illustrates how the bland and undistictive entrance to the Park can be made more welcoming with an attractive gateway to serve both the proposed residential development and Apex Park. The layout seeks to address any possible conflict between introducing a landmark building at the entrance to the site, required to give the development context and presence, and the two storey terraced and semi-detached housing to the north and south. Therefore, the proposed three storey “gateway ” apartment block is sited behind a landscaped square. Thus, an attractive setting is created by a small formal square with seating around a sculpture or similar artwork possibly with a maritime theme reflecting the area’s nautical histor y. The building will be sensitively designed to overlook this public amenity area giving future occupiers a pleasing outlook whilst ensuring the main habitable rooms will not intrude upon the privacy of the neighbouring rear gardens.

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5.2 The Proposals

The layout proposes a mix of houses and flats comprising a variety of one, two, three and four bedroom properties. This mix should encourage a range of potential occupiers resulting in a more diverse and vibrant community.

trees set in tree grilles to soften the areas of courtyard parking. Hard landscaping and street furniture will be used to differentiate between public and private spaces.

The layout has been designed to incorporate the flood defence bund as a landscape buffer protecting the amenity and outlook of the housing on Smith Way and screening views of the pumping station and boatyard. It will also reinforce the existing buffer protecting the wildlife park. Altough the bund will offer significant protection, at the north west corner, where the site adjoins the Apex Park wildlife site, the proposed dwellings are set back away from the boundar y to enable the existing green buffer to be supplemented and strengthened to protect this habitat. Within the development the planting will be more formal with standard

The development will be accessed from Newtown Road. It is proposed that the access will run along the existing cycleway serving Apex Park which forms the northern boundar y of the site. This additional land will enable the provision of a 5.5m carriageway with separate pedstrian and cycleways. Within the site the layout has been subject to a number of constraints including the 6m easement for the sewer, existing rights of way and the need to maintain access to both the pumping station and boatyard. Therefore it is proposed that the housing is served by a single access road stretching from Newtown Road to the Water Treatment Works reflecting the established linear street pattern and building form of the surrounding residentail development. The emphasis on frontage

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5.3 The Proposals
development with occassional formal squares takes elements from the built form to the north and south. In accordance with the guidance contained in Manual for Streets, the houses on the southern half of the site will have direct vehicle access to off street parking. This helps to generate activity and can establish a positive relationship between the street and its surroundings. The use of railings and low vegetation along curtilages will not restrict visibility but will clearly differentiate between public and private areas and the use of different surface materials will alert drivers when pedestrians or cyclists are likely to be crossing the road. The layout proposes a number of cycleway links to give ease of access through the development connecting existing rights of way and encouraging residents to walk or cycle to local shops and facilities. At present the footpaths and cycleways are somewhat bland and uninteresting offering no significant focal points and run behind rear garden fences and lock Informal crossings giving priority to pedestrians and cyclists will be created through careful use of surface materials encouraging vehicles to give way and where there are significant changes in level to accommodate existing accesses alternative sloping paths will be provided to ensure inclusion for the less mobile. up garages creating long narrow and unattractive routes which can be intimidating. The layout has been designed to ensure that both the existing and proposed routes are well overlooked so pedestrians and cyclists will feel safe and secure. Apartments blocks are proposed for the northern half of the site where first and second floor living rooms and kitchens will overlook the cycleway providing informal surveillance.

The redevelopment of brownfield land to provide new housing is an important objective of the Council. Brownfield sites are often hampered by high development costs associated with remediation and other constraints but bringing these sites forward is imperative if longer term objectives of regenerating areas and protecting Greenfield sites are to be fulfilled. This application is supported by a raft of evidence which demonstrates that the land can be developed in an appropriate manner


and facilitate future development on the adjacent boatyard site. The development will create a new sense of place and a gateway to Apex park; all within a sustainable location.

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