Draft Core Strategy (incorporating Preferred Options) October 2010

Draft Core Strategy (incorporating Preferred Options)

What will the Core Strategy Deliver?

Scale and Location of Growth

6.38 The Chard Regeneration Plan presents 4 options for the future growth of Chard. These options arose out of the desire to focus regeneration and growth on those areas that have the greatest need for, and capacity to accept change. Those areas were identified as generally being those that fall into the following categories:

  • Capable of contributing to the creation of an urban pattern that strengthens and enhances the existing urban form of the town;
  • Areas that are fragmented or with a poor urban quality within which there is opportunity for change;
  • Sites that are available for change due to development opportunities arising from relocation and/or change of use;
  • Streets and spaces with opportunity for enhancement to improve the pedestrian experience.

6.39 Impacts on areas of recognised townscape and heritage interest and valuable areas of green spaces were avoided. In addition to these constraints the ability to accommodate growth was also examined in terms of the topography and hydrology, landscape and visual sensitivity, nature reserves, vegetation and open space within Chard.

6.40 Four options for growth are presented:

 Figure 8: Chard Growth Option 1 - Town Centre Regeneration
Chard 1

6.41 This development option would focus on regenerating the town centre and only deliver low levels of housing growth. This option would include:

  • Implementing the regeneration initiatives in the town centre such as the Back Plots/Boden Mill, Green Heart, East End and public realm enhancements to High Street/Fore Street;
  • The relocation of the Chard Town Football Club to the north of the town and associated employment development;
  • Some development of the eastern growth area (previously identified in the South Somerset Local Plan and developed further through the Framework Plan) to fund traffic signalling improvements in the town centre. Options for the location of this development are indicated on the Phase 1 development plan;
  • Housing development on the vacant football club site;
  • This option would consist of approximately 410 dwellings.

Figure 9: Chard Growth Option 2 - Eastern Growth Area (part)
 

6.42 This option would follow on from the town centre improvements and continue the development of the eastern growth area, focusing on place making in the Millfield area to create a new district centre and delivering some additional highways links to the east of the town to improve highways capacity. This option would include:

  • Creating a highways link from the A30 to the Millfield Industrial Estate with additional housing growth immediately south of the A30;
  • Improving the Millfield road from town to the new mixed use district centre south of Millfield;
  • Completing the highways link from the A30 to the A358 plus associated housing development;
  • This option will deliver approximately 1366 dwellings.

Figure 10: Chard Growth Option 3 - Eastern Growth Area (Full Build Out)
 
Option 3: Eastern Growth Area (Full Build Out)

6.43 This option would continue from Options 1 and 2 and complete the growth to the east of the town, creating a second highways link and deliver maximum housing growth to the east of the town. This option would include:

  • Delivering additional housing to complete the new communities at Holbear and Millfield;
  • Fill out final development plots around Avishayes and;
  • Complete the second highways link around the eastern edge of the town;
  • This option would deliver approximately 2716 dwellings.

 Figure 11: Chard Growth Option 4 - Growth to Natural Limits
 
Option 4: Growth to

6.44 This option takes the level of development to the full build out scenario of the masterplan and delivers additional housing sites to the north and west of the town. This option would deliver approximately 3485 dwellings. The natural limits to growth are principally dictated by landscape constraints to development.

Chard Employment Land Requirement

6.45 In relation to employment land the requirement for Chard to the end of the plan period only is 13 hectares:

Chard
To be delivered through the Core Strategy 2006-2026 - 13 hectares
Gross Need - 13ha
Supply         - 16.39ha
Net Need     - 0ha
 

6.46 In Chard, this target of 13ha of employment land is derived from the ELR. Within the preferred Option 3 there is provision for this land which will be delivered in phases through the Chard Regeneration Plan. The remaining available supply comes from lapsed planning permissions (2.76 ha) as 0.63ha of land has been completed. As an immediate need for the delivery of some employment land has been identified in Chard, if this cannot be achieved through the Chard Regeneration Framework, or existing permissions, the town will need local provision to provide for the short-term (circa. 2.5 ha), to ensure a range and choice of sites are available. This can be delivered early through the Development Management process.

6.47 The work undertaken by LDA Design identifies up to 14 hectares of employment land as appropriate for Chard. The 1 hectare difference between the ELR and LDA work is not considered significant. However, whilst enough employment land has been identified to meet the need within the plan period, there is still a need to identify employment land to meet housing growth post 2026. Derived from the ELR 6 hectares are required to accommodate that additional residential growth (1 hectare of which has already been identified by LDA) leaving a further 5 hectares of employment land to be identified in the future. This is an issue to be addressed in the long term and should not constrain the growth of Chard over the plan period.

Sustainability Appraisal of Options

6.48 Sustainability Appraisal of each growth option for Chard has been carried out using the 14 objectives set out in the South Somerset Sustainability Appraisal Framework. The table below summarises the findings of that appraisal by recording the number of occasions each effect was “scored” for each option:

Figure 12: Sustainability Appraisal of Options for Growth in Chard
 
 
Significant Positive effect
Positive effect
Negative effect
Significant negative effect
Neutral
Uncertain effect
Option 1
2
5
2
0
5
0
Option 2
1
9
2
0
2
0
Option 3
6
4
2
0
2
0
Option 4
5
4
2
2
1
0
 

6.49 The above indicates that Options 3 & 4 bring about the most positive impacts for the town. The 2 areas where significant negative impacts have been identified from Option 4 are objective 8. “Reduce the effect of traffic on the environment” and objective 12. “Minimise pollution (including air, water, land, light, noise) and waste production”. The level of growth proposed by Option 4 results in significant increases in traffic congestion on several key junctions throughout the town and an additional link around the western side of the town would be difficult to achieve and would require additional masterplanning. Option 3 presents the benefits of large scale growth without the emerging disbenefits of undue traffic congestion and pollution and has been selected therefore as the preferred option and is shown as an allocation on the Proposal Map (relevant Inset Plan). The Proposals Map also shows the identified Development Area of the town. The former Key Site KS/CHAR/1 is subsumed in its entirety within the proposed new allocation.

6.50 Option 3 provides a scale of growth that will enable Chard to achieve and maximize its need for employment, housing, retail and associated amenities whilst not re-introducing undue congestion within the internal road network of the town. Option 3 will provide 2716 dwellings in total. In the Plan period to 2026 it will provide 1700 dwellings which, together with existing commitments in Chard, will result in 2191 being built in the plan period and 1016 dwellings beyond 2026.

Chard Growth Area

6.51 In summary proposals for Preferred Option 3 include:

  • Approximately 3207 dwellings (within and beyond the Plan period. Includes LDA proposals and existing commitments);
  • 19 hectares of employment land (within and beyond the Plan period. Includes LDA proposals plus additional need identified by the ELR post 2026);
  • 2 primary schools (within and beyond the plan period);
  • 4 neighbourhood centres (Avishayes, Stop Line Slopes, Millfield & Holbear) (within and beyond the plan period);
  • Highway infrastructure and improvements;
  • Sports and open space provision.

6.52 Growth will also deliver:

  • Improved town centre and retail facilities;
  • An improved range and quality of housing in the town centre including affordable housing;
  • Permeability and connectivity of movements within the town centre will be improved;
  • More employment opportunities – additional land and jobs;
  • Improved leisure provision with new open spaces and facilities;
  • Improved legibility and public transport provision;
  • New education facilities;
  • Critical mass of the town will be increased significantly to attract some larger employers and retailers

6.53 The European Protected Species Assessment (2009) assessed the development options around Chard for any likely impact on species protected by European law. It identifies the presence of dormice and potential significant impacts on the local bat population in some areas of land identified as coming forward as part of Option 3. Mitigation measures will have to be put in place to address this.

Policy CV1 Chard Growth Area
 

Land at Chard is allocated for strategic growth to provide the following within the plan period and beyond:

  • Approximately 3207 dwellings;
  • Approximately 19 hectares of employment land;
  • 2 new primary schools;
  • 4 neighbourhood centres (Avishayes, Stop Line Slopes, Millfields & Holbear);
  • Highway infrastructure and improvements;
  • Sports and open space provision

Phasing and Delivery

6.54 LDA consultants have developed a phased approach for growth. The ‘development options’ represent logical stages at which development in the town can conclude or simply pause if necessary before further growth or regeneration takes place. Unlocking the growth and regeneration opportunities highlighted in the report is complex and requires a phased approach to ensure viability and deliverability. The detailed phasing is set out in the Chard Regeneration Framework Implementation Plan prepared by the Consultants.

6.55 The key driver of the phasing sequence set out in the Chard Regeneration Framework Implementation Plan (2010) is the need to incrementally increase the capacity of the highways infrastructure to accommodate the traffic flows as the town grows. This requires a phased delivery of a continuous route to the east of the town from the A358 Furnham Road to the A358 Tatworth Road and connections into adjacent urban areas in order to achieve the capacity to allow Chard to grow. To achieve Option 3, five steps are required to complete the necessary highway infrastructure:

  1. Improvements to the A358/A30 Convent Signals in the town centre and East End Gateway improves the operation of the junction and flow of traffic sufficient to allow initial development without major highways infrastructure provision;
  2. A new link from the A30 near Oaklands House to the end of Millfield Avenue a new route to/from the town centre from the east, and also delivering access to the growth area;
  3. A connection south from Millfield Road to Forton Road, allowing for greater permeability and linkage between the growth area and the town centre;
  4. Linkage north from the A30, using Oaklands Avenue, but also involving the creation of a new/upgraded route around the north east of the town as far as the A358 Furnham Road;
  5. Completion of the link south between Forton Road and the A358 Tatworth Road to complete the continuous linkage around the eastern edge of the town.

6.56 As a first step towards the implementation of the wider plan the Millfield Link road between the A30 and the Millfield Industrial Estate must come forward as it will help create capacity for initial growth. On current build out rates the Millfield Link will need to come forward in approximately 2-3 years time to ensure the growth of Chard is not again curtailed. The Millfield Link provides access to Chard for people entering the town from the east and if implemented together with MOVA (a signal control strategy) will create the capacity for approximately 445 additional homes, employment growth and retail development. South Somerset District Council have taken steps to secure funding to implement MOVA, however in order to bring the whole of Option 3 to fruition and fund the Millfield Link, a level of public sector investment is likely to be needed, as well as private sector contributions. Steps have been taken by the District Council to make a bid seeking to secure that public sector investment (from the Homes & Communities Agency) a decision on whether the bid has been successful or not is expected later this year (2010) through the emerging Somerset Local Investment Programme and discussions directly with the HCA. If the funding or an alternative provision arrangement is not forthcoming this will have a significant impact on the ability to deliver this level of growth in Chard, and other approaches to delivery will have to be investigated.

6.57 Given that the growth of Chard is dependent on the implementation of the MOVA enhancements to the Convent Signals and the delivery of the Millfield Link it is considered that the following approach should be taken:

  • Developments will be able to come forward within the capacity of MOVA subject to a Traffic Impact Assessment;
  • At the point at which the capacity created by MOVA is reached all subsequent development phases will be required to contribute to the creation of infrastructure in the growth area and specifically the Millfield Link.
 
Policy CV2 Chard Phasing
 

To ensure the timely delivery of highway and other infrastructure to support the proposed growth of Chard a phased approach to delivery will be taken with the following to be delivered:

Within the plan period:

  • Approximately 2191 dwellings;
  • Approximately 13 hectares of employment land;
  • 1 new primary school;
  • 2 neighbourhood centres (Millfields & Holbear);
  • Sports and open space provision .

Post 2026:

  • Approximately 1016 dwellings;
  • Approximately 6 hectares of employment land;
  • 1 new primary school;
  • 2 neighbourhood centres (Avishayes & Stop Line Slopes)

In order to ensure the timely delivery of the necessary infrastructure to support the growth, phases will be delivered in the order set out in the Chard Implementation Plan any deviation from that phasing sequence should be justified and it should be demonstrated that that the proposal will not compromise the delivery of the total growth.

Chard Obligations

6.58 The current lack of certainty over Community Infrastructure Levy and Tariff policies of the Government and the likely requirement for a preparatory charging statement require that a more traditional planning obligation requirement for the early phase of development at Chard is needed. Thereafter, a more formalized tariff or levy approach will be considered appropriate to ensure that the necessary infrastructure required to deliver the overall growth can be achieved and reasonably incurred by the different perspective plans and development of the overall allocation.

6.59 There is wide scale impact of development across Chard on the traffic constraints associated with the central A358/A30 Convent Link junction. The resolution of such issues identified through road development to the east of the town associated with new development will logically mean the application of contributions (and in due course levy or tariffs) to all development in Chard to deliver this effectively and fairly.

6.60 The long build-out period for the overall allocation will necessitate regular re-assessment of appropriate contributions (or levy or tariffs).

Policy CV3 Chard Obligations
 

Development within phases 1 and 2 of the strategic growth area and other development within Chard will be expected to make contributions (subject to viability) towards essential infrastructure (and in particular the MOVA traffic signalling software and “Millfield Link Road” ensuring continuing traffic flow and circulation within the town) and augmenting sought public funding for the infrastructure.

Subsequent phases of the strategic growth area and other development within Chard will be expected to pay an appropriate contribution (tariff) towards necessary infrastructure provision to enable all remaining phases of the strategic growth area and continuing traffic circulation in the town (by virtue of that infrastructure) subject to individual site viability. The contribution (tariff) will be determined in the light of land values and identified public funding that are to be regularly re-assessed over the period of strategic growth area build out and will be specific to delivering infrastructure within or otherwise servicing the town.

Retail Provision

6.61 Chard currently accommodates a good range of convenience floorspace provision and it is not considered that there is a strong qualitative deficiency in provision or a need to plan for a substantially increased convenience shopping market share. As a consequence, the Retail Capacity Study Update 2010 quantitative assessment predicts there to be no additional convenience floorspace capacity necessary for Chard until after 2021. Any increases in convenience floorspace are likely to be based on the ability to provide increased competition and focusing new development within the town centre.

6.62 There is a qualitative need for improved comparison floorspace within Chard, in order to improve the retention rate for this type of shopping, including the potential redevelopment of the Saved Plan allocated site adjacent to Boden Street. The Boden Street site should be the focus for improving retail provision within Chard Town Centre, although it is important that development in this location does not harm the provision of adequate levels of car parking in the town centre and provides retail accommodation which can act as an extension to the town centre and not impact negatively upon existing provision. The Retail Study’s quantitative assessment indicates future comparison floorspace capacity of 300sq m net by 2014, rising to 1,500sq m net by 2026 on the basis of a constant market share, although this could be increased if suitable town centre sites are made available to facilitate the clawback of leaked expenditure. It is considered that this growth is best accommodated through the Development Management process.

Transport Matters

Rail

6.63 The potential re-opening of Chard Junction is considered within the emerging Chard Regeneration Framework (CRF) and the Transport Assessment (TA) report recommends that the proposal be developed with more detailed costings and a viability assessment. Somerset County Council as the transport authority would need to undertake such a study. However it is noted that in their decision not to purchase the land from the British Rail Board (Residuary) (BRBR) Ltd in February 2010 the County Council state that:

“Whilst the re-opening of a rail station at this location is a stated long-term aspiration of the Council in its current Local Transport Plan, at present there is no agreed business case demonstrating that the re-opening of the station would be a viable proposition; there is no funding allocated for development or construction of such a scheme; and no obvious prospect of such funding being allocated in the foreseeable future as it would be likely to cost several million pounds."
 

6.64 In the absence of a viability study indicating that there is a business case for the reopening of Chard Junction there is not sufficient evidence to protect the land for future rail use within the Core Strategy.

Local Bus Services

6.65 The Chard Regeneration Framework Transport Assessment concludes that a bespoke town bus service in Chard is unlikely to be commercially viable because both journey times and costs would not be attractive in comparison with what are easily walked trips. It also indicates that “the main thrust of any development of bus services will be to ensure that any new development has effective access to services, and to fill gaps in existing provision such that all areas of Chard reach the same level of public transport accessibility as far as possible.” It is indicated that this will need to be achieved through enhancing services between Chard and other towns and proposes that improved services for Chard should be pursued by the following means:

  • Doubling the frequency of most services to neighbouring towns, thus making hourly services into half hourly services;
  • Improving bus access within Chard by appropriate routing of that part of the services that are in the built up area with the new doubled frequency services, having two route options within Chard such that one bus takes more or less the existing route and one serves the new area.

6.66 In addition to this the Transport Assessment also recommends Chard Town Centre as a transport hub, where all routes stop within a short distance of each other, and where public transport information is freely available. This could establish greater ease of interchange between both bus routes and between other travel modes. Reference to a transport interchange is shown on the proposals map (relevant Inset Map).

Walking and Cycling

6.67 Chard is a compact settlement with an existing centre offering access to local services, facilities, education and jobs within walking and cycling distance of the main residential areas. However, the impermeable layout of residential areas currently serves to discourage walking and cycling.

6.68 The proposed new development allocation is located mainly to the east of the town and will require strong sustainable transport connections with the centre if it is to be fully integrated as an extension to the existing settlement form. It is important therefore to ensure that journeys on foot or by bicycle are attractive in comparison with car journeys, and contribute to and form part of a coherent, pleasant and safe network of pedestrian and cycle routes.

6.69 The Chard Regeneration Framework Transport Assessment Report considers using a network of lightly trafficked and off-road links for pedestrians and cyclists between residential areas, the town centre and employment sites. The Cycling Strategy in the Local Transport Plan 2[1] indicated that whilst generally the topography in Chard means that it is unlikely to have very high levels of cycling, if new infrastructure is carefully targeted on the flatter parts of the town, such as the A358 (northern approach), to link residential areas with the main trip attractors, further increases in levels of cycling should be achievable.

6.70 In residential areas new homes should be designed to make cycle storage secure and convenient, and there should be adequate levels of cycle parking at retail and employment areas. Cycle parking at the main public transport nodes should also be provided.

1. LTP2 produced by Somerset County Council [back]
Measures to Encourage Modal Shift in Chard

6.71 In addition to the generic policy for modal shift the measures needed to achieve significant modal shift in Chard should include:

  1. Supporting the integration of transport modes to ensure ease of interchange (e.g. walk or cycle links to public transport, through ticketing etc.) through contributions to a sustainable transport interchange within the town. Currently buses stop at Boden Street and the Guildhall dependent on their direction of travel and the relative close proximity of these sites lend themselves to the delivery of a sustainable transport interchange.
    As the benefits of an enhanced Transport Interchange in Chard would apply to all new developments, the requirement to contribute to interchange improvements will apply to all residential and employment developments. Developers will be expected to contribute to achievement of an interchange through planning obligations.
  2.  
  3. Improvements to public transport by either improving the existing public transport services and/or establishing a Quality Bus Partnership (QBP) to deliver more frequent and higher quality bus services that aim to provide the doubling of frequency as recommended in the Chard Regeneration Framework Transport Assessment, and serving the town centre, employment health and education establishments.
    Contributions to QBPs should apply to all residential and employment developments. The measures to deliver QBPs in Chard need to be costed and are dependent on the outcomes from the County Council Future Transport Plan. Subject to those outcomes, the business case can then be made and a contribution based on per dwelling (and for employment per floorspace) can be sought. In some cases this will be site specific where there are major developments and either new or major enhancements to routes are required. In other smaller developments it will be more appropriate that they contribute to the general improvements to the town network.
    Given the compact nature of Chard the benefits of improved public transport will be reaped by all new developments and the requirement to contribute to public transport improvements should therefore apply to all new developments.
  4.  
  5. Promoting improvements in public transport by providing bus stops, dependent on the scale of the development and existing provision, where a bus route exists or can be provided within a reasonable distance.
    - All new residential developments of 20 dwellings or more and employment sites with a floor space greater than 2400 sq m should provide a bus stop and each stop should include a bus shelter with timetable information (with a commuted sum to provide for on-going maintenance & cleaning).
    - Smaller residential developments with less than 20 dwellings and employment sites with a floor space less than 2400 sq m should contribute a set figure per dwelling or employee respectively towards this provision. Planning obligations will be sought for such infrastructure where this is required for smaller developments in accordance with Policy SS7.
    - A reasonable distance for the provision of bus stops would be:
    - Within 400m of the development;
    - Or in the case of larger developments of greater than 50 dwellings or with a floor space greater than 3600 sq m within 400m of each dwelling or unit in the development.
    However care should be taken to ensure bus routes are not distorted to satisfy this criterion as direct and simple bus routes are more important than walking distances a little more than 400 metres for a few passengers.
  6.  
  7. The encouragement of cycling and walking by:
    Providing cycle and pedestrian routes to link the new development with new/existing cycling and pedestrian routes by utilising lightly trafficked and off-road links for pedestrians and cyclists. The routes should permeate the site to ensure ease of access around the development. Developments should also seek to protect and improve existing cycling and pedestrian routes within 400m of the site to facilitate links to and from the site to the wider network. The requirement to provide for cycle and pedestrian routes should apply to all new residential developments of 10 dwellings or more and to employment site developments with a floor space greater than 1000 sq m.
    Providing facilities for cycle parking within the new development commensurate with the levels and standards designated in the County Councils cycle parking strategy. The requirement to provide cycle parking should apply to all new residential and employment proposals.
  8.  
  9. Achieve greater modal shift through Personalised Travel Planning specifically targeted at individuals (residents and employees) to ensure complete awareness of travel choices and respective benefits. This would include a personal consultation to assess the individual’s travel needs and opportunities. This should be carried out on all new residential and employment developments in Chard. This approach also applies to Yeovil development and the resource can be funded by new development in the 2 towns and work across the two towns. The requirement to contribute to personalised travel planning should apply to all residential and employment developments.
  10.  
  11. Further encourage car share by providing preferential and quality spaces in car parks for car sharers at employment sites. This is a requirement for all employment sites with a floor space greater than 1000 sq m.
 
Policy CV4 Modal Shift for Chard
 

In addition to the generic policies that support modal shift throughout the district the policies for Chard are:

All residential and employment developments in Chard should:

    i. Contribute to a sustainable transport interchange within the town;
    ii. Make contributions to either the improvement of existing public transport services and/or the establishment of a Quality Bus Partnership (QBP) that aim to provide the doubling of frequency of buses on identified routes and offer higher standards. To take effect at first occupancy to enable ‘pump-priming’ of these routes. Developers would be required to provide funding for the general provision of public transport;
     iii. Provide facilities for cycle parking within the new development commensurate with the levels and standards designated in the SCC Cycle Parking Strategy;
    iv. Contribute to the resource needed for Personalised Travel Planning.

All residential developments of 10 dwellings or more and employment sites with a floor space greater than 1000 sq m should:

    v. Provide cycling and pedestrian routes both to and permeating the site and improve existing cycling and pedestrian routes where necessary within 400 metres of the site to facilitate links to and from the site to the wider network.

All residential developments of 20 dwellings or more and employment sites with a floor space greater than 2400 sq m should:

    vi. Provide bus stops, bus shelters and timetable information, dependent on the scale of the development and existing provision, within 400 metres of the development or in the case of larger developments of greater than 50 dwellings or with a floor space greater than 3600 sq m within 400 metres of each dwelling or unit in the development where a bus route exists or can be provided within that distance;
    vii. Planning obligations will be sought for such infrastructure where this is required for smaller developments less than 20 dwellings and employment sites with a floor space less than 2400 sq m in accordance with Policy SS7.

All employment sites of more than 1000 sq m should:

    viii. Provide preferential and quality spaces in car parks for car sharers at employment sites.