CS30: Weston Urban Extension

CS30: Weston Urban Extension

To the south east of Weston-super-Mare a major mixed-use, employment-led socially, economically and environmentally sustainable urban extension will be developed. A Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) including a Master Plan, Design Codes and Delivery Plan will provide the detailed guidance to support this policy and guide the development of, and decision making on, proposals at the extension. The Draft Key Diagram: Weston urban extension sets out the indicative strategic development framework.

Subject to a viability assessment the development of the urban extension south-east of Weston-super-Mare must satisfy the following key requirements:

1) Development within the urban extension will be employment-led with the provision of 1.5 B use class jobs per dwelling in addition to jobs from non B uses. Detailed mechanisms for delivering employment-led development will be set out in the Weston Urban Extension SPD.

2) Provide 9,000 new homes in a mix of housing types, tenures, sizes and styles of which a target of 30% should be affordable. An average density of at least 40dph should be achieved across the area, with higher densities surrounding the district and local centres and lower densities on the edge of each neighbourhood.

3) Provide at least 42 ha of B use class employment land located within allocated employment sites, mixed-use development areas and at local and district centres.

4) Development within the urban extension will be phased prioritising the release of brownfield sites at Weston Airfield and Locking Parklands. If provision of strategic infrastructure is dependant on development on greenfield land then this will be taken into consideration as part of the phasing strategy.

5) The urban extension will be characterised by linked communities on the east and western sides of the A371. Each community will be anchored by a district centre which will provide necessary retail, health, children's services and educational and community facilities to serve the new housing development.

6) Site(s) for on-site renewable or low carbon energy production including associated infrastructure to facilitate site-wide renewable energy solutions will be provided.

7) Provision of a site to accommodate pitches for Gypsy and Traveller accommodation.

8) Provision of a network of green infrastructure across the whole urban extension including a 'Green Heart Park' as a central feature as well as playing fields, allotments, play areas, pocket and community parks, green corridors linking through development allowing wildlife movement and access to open space, wetlands and water corridors linking through development, including the retention of existing rhynes where appropriate.

9) Integrated transport infrastructure including:

  • The Cross Airfield Link
  • The Airfield Bridge Link
  • Junction 21 Relief Road
  • A371 to Wolvershill Road/Churchland Way Link
  • Potential park and ride subject to feasibility studies
  • Convenient and accessible bus routes
  • Accessible and safe cycle routes and public footpaths
  • Rail and bus improvements.

10) A clear hierarchy of roads (from distributor to home zones) producing discernable and distinctive neighbourhoods which are integrated and linked to existing areas.

11) A comprehensive flood management scheme is essential to facilitate the development of the urban extension. This will require off-site flood mitigation measures. Any development within the urban extension will be required to contribute towards these flood mitigation measures through the tariff approach.

12) Interim and long-term on-site flood mitigation measures, such as sustainable urban drainage systems, must be included as part of any development proposal. Any proposed development will need to be supported by a Flood Risk Assessment which will include a surface water drainage strategy.

13) The realignment and safeguarding of safety and noise corridors associated with the helicopter flights linked with the Helicopter Museum. Employment, open-space and uses that are least sensitive to helicopter disturbance will be located around the museum.

14) A development tariff approach will apply to all planning applications within the urban extension area. The tariff will contribute towards the strategic infrastructure that is necessary to achieve a comprehensive sustainable development. Details of the development tariff will be set out in a future SPD for the Weston-super-Mare urban extension and the Developer Contributions SPD.

15) Development must be of a high quality and locally distinctive to Weston enhancing the existing character and qualities that contribute to the town's identity. This should include a comprehensive approach to place-making including all the elements that make up an area including land uses, parking, movement and green spaces.

16) Strategic gaps between the urban extension and Hutton and Locking will protect their individual character and identity.

This policy contributes towards achieving Priority Objectives 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 8, 9, and 10.

Background

The draft RSS requires Weston-super-Mare to secure employment-led regeneration by significantly improving the employment offer of the town, reducing the impacts of car-based commuting, while requiring housing growth to be phased and linked directly to job growth. It proposes a well planned, mixed-use urban extension south east of Weston-super-Mare to accommodate 9,000 new homes. The RSS also requires planning for employment to provide about 10,000 jobs in the Weston-super-Mare Travel to Work Area including the provision of at least 34ha of employment land in the period to 2026.

In 2008 North Somerset commissioned consultants Broadway Malyan to undertake detailed master planning and design work to inform the Core Strategy. This work formed the basis for discussion with landowners and stakeholders in terms of formulating the policy for the Weston urban extension.

The Core Strategy approach

The site: The Weston urban extension includes a total of approximately 650 hectares of land bound by the A370 to the north, the A371 and open land to the Cross Rhyne to the south, the M5 motorway to the east and Winterstoke Road to the west. It comprises three main areas:

  • The disused Weston Airfield which forms a major part of the western half of the urban extension area.
  • RAF Locking which was in operation until 1998 as an RAF training facility and has now been cleared although some former features remain. This includes Flowerdown Park which is an area of housing at the former RAF Locking which is now in private ownership.
  • The eastern half of the site is primarily low-lying agricultural land and is characterised by a series of geometric rhynes.
  • Also within the urban extension area is the industrial estate on Winterstoke Road which contains a large number of former airfield buildings and is currently used for a variety of vehicle, transport and storage uses. Additionally, the Helicopter Museum is located at the heart of the urban extension and is an important tourist attraction for Weston.

Landownership: Within the urban extension area there are a number of individual land ownerships, of which there are six primary landowners which are central to the delivery of the urban extension:

  • The Housing and Communities Agency and South West Regional Development Agency own the RAF Locking site, renamed Locking Parklands in October 2006.
  • Persimmon Homes own the majority (175 ha) of the former Weston Airfield.
  • The Helicopter Museum, located between the Weston Airfield and the A371 has air experience, visitor, demonstration and maintenance/conservation flights as part of their attraction, the continued operation of which is a key factor in the development of the Airfield, as discussed further on in the text.
  • Mead Group Land control/promote land to the north east of the RAF Locking site.
  • Moss Land own an area of land to the west of RAF Locking adjacent to the A371.
  • North Somerset Council owns a large amount of land both within and immediately adjacent to the urban extension. Within the urban extension the primary land holdings are located to the north/northwest of RAF Locking. Adjacent to the urban extension, the council also owns land between Weston Airfield and Hutton village to the south.

Adjoining Land: Land adjacent to the urban extension is also needed for strategic infrastructure. Land south of Weston Airfield and land east of the M5 will be required for flood mitigation measures. Additionally land east of the M5 will be required for the junction 21 bypass and part of the Avoncrest site north west of the Weston Airfield will be needed for the Airfield Bridge Link Road which will connect the urban extension to the town centre.

RAF locking

Phasing: The Weston urban extension comprises two predominantly brownfield sites - Weston Airfield and the former RAF Locking site - with the remainder of the site being greenfield land. The development of these two sites will be prioritised ahead of green field land to the north east of the Weston urban extension.

Urban Design: The aim is to achieve a development that is not only exemplar in its design but is based on key sustainability principles such as low carbon use, less dominance of the car and a full range of local facilities and employment opportunities. The completed development must be an area which residents are proud of and respect and which will meet most of their day-to-day needs.

It is imperative that the urban extension at Weston-super-Mare is integrated fully with the existing development. This can be achieved through a series of direct and safe pedestrian/cycle routes as well as better road and public transport connections to Weston town centre. Notwithstanding this, the new development will be as self-contained as possible with key community facilities within walking distance of most dwellings.

Although a high density of development is proposed this will be broken up by the following four key areas of open space which will also function as pedestrian/cycle routes and wildlife havens:

  • The Green Heart at the junction of the A370/A371;
  • Open space link between Hutton village and Weston Airfield;
  • Green corridor based on the Grumplepill Rhyne north of Locking parklands
  • Open space based on the motte and bailey west of Locking Parklands.

Development should front onto these areas as much as possible so as to improve its setting and provide public surveillance.

The design of the road layout within the area should aim to eliminate 'rat running' and allow for safe and direct cycle/pedestrian access to key community facilities and employment areas. Densities will be varied throughout the development with a wide range of heights and styles. Key gateway sites at junctions, district centres and entrances will need to be occupied by landmark buildings that will act as focal points and generate a sense of identity for each neighbourhood area.

Hedges, trees and important viewpoints should be retained and enhanced. The character and identity of the surrounding villages of Hutton and Locking should be protected by appropriate green buffers

Residential: Policy HMA1 of the draft Regional Spatial Strategy states that Weston-super-Mare should secure employment-led regeneration including provision for sustainable housing growth of 9,000 dwellings. Policy H2 of the draft RSS states that local planning authorities should promote net densities of 50dph or more overall. However, North Somerset Council and other primary landowners in the Weston Urban Extension area have objected to the RSS density requirement on the basis that it is too high, particularly given the market saturation of flats. Accordingly, the Core Strategy policy assumes that residential development will have an average density of 40dph which would result in a total land take of 225ha.

Employment: Policy HMA1 of the draft Regional Spatial Strategy requires that Weston-super-Mare secures concerted employment-led regeneration and more specifically states that Weston-super-Mare will provide for about 10,000 jobs. North Somerset Council is determined to deliver two primary objectives which accord with the RSS employment objectives:

i. Increase self-containment and therefore a higher ratio of jobs to homes;

ii. Increase Class B1 employment provision to attract a different type of employment to the area.

With these objectives in mind the following level of employment provision is proposed within the urban extension:

Class B1 Offices = 16ha

Class B2 General Industrial = 13ha

Class B8 Distribution/Warehousing = 13ha.

This results in a total of 42ha of land to be allocated for B Class employment uses. The employment uses will be identified as specific allocations on Weston Airfield, but dispersed as part of mixed-use developments on the Locking Parklands site.

It is recognised that achieving an employment-led strategy relies on the timely delivery of infrastructure to 'unlock' employment potential; the enhancing of the image of the town through recognising and building upon the characteristics and qualities that underpin the town; delivering high quality building and urban design; and addressing skills and training.

In the urban extension the emphasis is on a comprehensive development, including the majority of employment development, with the provision of 1.5 B use class jobs per dwelling in addition to jobs from non B uses. This will deliver significantly more jobs than the RSS target. The mechanisms for delivering the employment-led strategy will be set out in detail within the Supplementary Planning Document and/or other LDF Documents. It will also set out a mechanism for monitoring and reviewing the employment-led strategy throughout the plan period.

Strategic Infrastructure Requirements:

Highways/Transportation: In terms of essential infrastructure required within the urban extension there are four main transport routes. These are:

i. A cross-airfield road linking Winterstoke Road with the A371.

ii. A371 to Wolvershill Road/Churchland Way link.

iii. Airfield Bridge Link from Weston Airfield to Winterstoke Road roundabout.

iv. Junction 21 Relief Road.

v. Contributions to rail and bus improvements.

The exact alignment of these routes will be fixed in the Weston Urban Extension Supplementary Planning Document.

In addition there may be a longer term requirement for a park and ride facility. A site adjacent to the Helicopter Museum meets all the requirements in terms of accessibility, but its detailed implementation will be subject to feasibility studies.

Rhyne

Flood mitigation Measures: As all of the urban extension is within the floodplain the focus is on avoiding development areas most liable to flooding as set out in the sequential approach in PPS 25. The Environment Agency has confirmed that no development would be allowed in the functional floodplain at the centre of the urban extension, on the corner of A370 and the A371. Given the development requirements for the urban extension as identified by the emerging Regional Spatial Strategy, it is clear that the majority of the remaining land within the urban extension, in flood zones 2 and 3a, would need to be developed.

Given the flood risk issues relevant to Weston-super-Mare as a town, a holistic approach has been advocated by the Environment Agency to promote a comprehensive flood management scheme. North Somerset Council commissioned a Weston-super-Mare Flood Management Study for the urban extension which was completed in March 2007. The study recommended the creation of a lake and wetland area to the south of the Weston Airfield, and improvements to the River Banwell, and this is the agreed flood management solution to development at the Weston urban extension. Any proposed development will, however, need to be supported by a Flood Risk Assessment which will include a surface water drainage strategy.

Renewable Energy: On-site energy generation is anticipated to be required in order to meet the aspirations of a low carbon development. Site-wide solutions will be encouraged with necessary infrastructure delivered from the outset.

Parks/Green Spaces/Allotments: There is a requirement for certain forms of green spaces within the urban extension. These include formal parks and gardens, community parks and neighbourhood parks as well as allotments. The amount and location of the green infrastructure is shown on the key diagram, but will be set out in detail in the SPD.

There is a long established and documented requirement for the provision of a 'Green Heart' within the urban extension. The Green Heart which was first identified in the Weston Development Framework is proposed to be a significant strategic open space and recreational resource for Weston-super-Mare. The provision of the Green Heart is fundamental to the redevelopment of the urban extension and the key diagram identifies land on the south eastern corner of the Airport Roundabout to serve as the Green Heart. The specific role and function of this space will be identified in more detail through the Weston Urban Extension SPD.

Social Infrastructure Requirements:

Children's Services: Schools will play a vital role and be a key focus of the community. Having regard to the population created by the new development six 420 place Primary Schools, two 1,500 place secondary schools and one special school will be needed to serve the new population.

Retail: The assumptions for retail provision within the urban extension have been based upon the conclusions of the North Somerset Retail and Leisure Study (April 2006) and its Addendum (August 2006). Floorspace figures from the study have been factored upwards by 20% to produce a figure to 2026. This then equates to the need for approximately 32,000m2 of comparison retail space and 6,500m2 of convenience retail floor space in non-central locations in Weston-super-Mare. It is assumed that the majority of this need will be met in the urban extension at the three district centres.

Based on an assumed plot ratio of 40% this equates to a requirement of 8ha for comparison retail and 1.6ha for convenience retail equalling a total of 9.6ha.

Community Facilities: There is a requirement for a number of multi-purpose community facilities within the Weston urban extension to cater for a range of community use, including community halls, libraries and health centres. Some of these community facilities, particularly community halls, could be co-located on the primary school sites and a land allowance should be made for this dual use within the allocation for the primary schools. Alternative mechanisms for delivery and ongoing maintenance will be explored as part of the Delivery Plan.

Sports and Recreation: The key sports and recreation requirements for the urban extension are a leisure centre which should be combined with the proposed secondary school at Locking Parklands enabling dual use of facilities. The dual use of this facility would reduce the need for the secondary school to provide the usual amount of playing pitches, and therefore, the land area for the secondary school could be reduced.

There is also a requirement for a range of sports pitch provision including adult grass pitches, rugby pitches, cricket pitches and junior/mini football pitches. It is assumed that these will all be provided at the proposed leisure centre, primary schools, secondary schools and parks and therefore additional land would not be required. Alternative mechanisms for delivery and ongoing maintenance will be explored as part of the Delivery Plan.

Helicopter Flights: The ancillary helicopter flights associated with the Helicopter Museum, located on the eastern edge of Weston Airfield, currently result in a constraint to achieving the housing and employment figures identified in the emerging RSS due to the alignment of the helicopter flight path, and noise and safety issues associated with the flights.

Discussions between the Helicopter Museum Trustees and the relevant landowners of Weston Airfield to try and resolve this situation are ongoing and this policy requires that land uses that are least sensitive to helicopter disturbance will be located nearest the museum and that the helicopter flight path is realigned to enable the comprehensive and compatible development of Weston Airfield. The helicopter flights and the impact of new development on helicopter flights will be kept under review in particular in relation to noise nuisance and safety considerations.

The detailed land use arrangements around the Helicopter Museum will be determined through work on the Weston Urban Extension SPD once the detailed realignments are agreed on.

How and where the policy will be delivered

The Weston urban extension draft key diagram inset shows the indicative distribution of land uses. This will be refined as part of the masterplanning work to be finalised through the Supplementary Planning Document. This and the Developer Contribution SPD will guide development, set out the exact requirements for social infrastructure and put forward mechanisms for the contributions to strategic infrastructure.

The urban extension is a strategic requirement and the council is actively working with key partners and landowners to ensure its delivery. This includes key landowners and other partners such as the Environment Agency, Highways Agency, Primary Care Trust, Weston College, Regional Development Agency, Homes and Communities Agency, as well as other local stakeholders.

Alternative options and contingency planning

The proposed strategic framework for the delivery of the Weston urban extension has emerged as a result of discussions with landowners and stakeholders and taking account of advice prepared by Broadway Malyan on masterplanning, design codes and delivery. The principal alternative options are:

  • Develop land immediately to the east of M5 to support J21 improvements and encourage employment.
  • No priority phasing of brownfield sites.
  • Allocate two district centres instead of three.
  • Increase the housing density to 50dph in accordance with the emerging RSS.

Further discussion and testing will be required before the Core Strategy diagram is confirmed.

Delivery in relation to the employment-led objective and infrastructure provision will be regularly monitored, and if necessary, adjustments made to the timing or phasing of the development. If development is not going to be completed by 2026, then alternative allocations will not be made; instead development will continue post-2026.

Monitoring and review

The principal objective of the monitoring strategy is to ensure that the employment-led strategy is effective, and that a range of job opportunities is delivered and that self-containment is enhanced. If not, then the strategy may need to be adjusted in the future. Monitoring will also need to ensure that essential infrastructure, particularly for transport and flood mitigation, is delivered in step with development.

Weston Urban Extension Key Diagram

WRA Key

Weston Urban Extension key diagram