Weston-super-Mare Town Centre Regeneration - Draft Supplementary Planning Document (SPD)

Weston-super-Mare town centre regeneration Draft SPD

Lower High Street

KEY EXISTING CHARACTERISTICS

1. Mixed-use area includes the former Dolphin Square site, the area around St James Street as well as the southern section of the High Street and block including the NCP car park.

2. Whilst the area does contains a few fine buildings it also has significant areas of poor quality which offer redevelopment and regeneration opportunities.

3. Part of the former Dolphin Square area is undergoing a major redevelopment to include a cinema, gym, and food and drink outlets. This will significantly change the character of the area in terms of foot-fall and uses. Architecturally it will bring modern, bold and large scale buildings.

4. The area from the seafront to St James Street is historically part of the mid-19th century expansion of Weston village, with the original north-south orientated grid of streets remaining intact. The original character of small scale commercial and residential terraces is significantly eroded by larger scale post – war redevelopment of consistently poor quality. Remnants of the older terrace buildings remain, concentrated in St James Street, including public houses and a few isolated cottages. There is a mix of town centre land uses including independent retail and food and drink outlets, especially along St James Street. Significant night-time economy uses with bars and clubs are found towards Regent Street. Some of the market traders from the former Dolphin Square have established in the area. Low quality residential accommodation is interspersed throughout with numerous empty buildings. The area will be liable to change once the Dolphin Square redevelopment is completed and new footfall patterns are established. Businesses will adapt to the new circumstances and customers. Building lines are generally closed and continuous with heights of ranging from 2-4 storeys. Though local colour and interest arises especially along St James Street, the area generally is in need of improvement, with potential for sympathetic re-development of individual plots and a need for comprehensive public realm improvements.

5. Regent Street links the St James area with the High street area and also the seafront with the town centre. This street is mainly a mix of bars and amusement arcades and a part of the night-time ’bright light’ economy spilling from the Pier and promenade into the town centre.

6. The southern section of High Street and the block to its east comprise mainly retail uses and a large scale concrete 60/70’s multi-storey car park. High Street south has been a significant retail area but the closure of TJ Hughes has left a conspicuous vacant post war building which fronts both St James Street and High Street. Coffee and charity shops dominate. Access to the NCP car park requires vehicles to uses the most southern section of the street. The area does include the fine Victorian stone curving Magdala Buildings terrace opposite the Odeon and listed building at 18-20 Walliscote Road. This entire block to the east of High Street south is dominated by ground floor retail uses, with frequent vacancies and use changes.

Lower-High-Street Legend

 

FUTURE CHARACTER STATEMENT

This area will see both redevelopment and refurbishment. The Dolphin Square cinema and leisure redevelopment will provide a new focus for both daytime and evening activity and provide impetus for the revival of the area. The final phase of the Dolphin Square redevelopment will be a high quality, mainly residential, development that forms a key part of this character area. The design will need to enhance the conservation area and surrounding public realm and terminate key views. It will manage the transition between the tall leisure building under construction, the hotel on the seafront and the existing 2-3 storey built form. It will bring a new vitality to the area as well as create greater demand for services. The establishment of a Station Boulevard will connect the area with the wider redevelopments happening at Walliscote Place and Station Approach.

The area from the seafront to St James Street will be recognised as a mixed use town centre quarter, providing a key link between the High Street retail area to the north and the Dolphin Square development. A vibrant mix of creative uses, small businesses, restaurants and cafes will be encouraged, alongside contemporary residential conversions, re-development and student housing. The general grain of the built form will be retained, with the opportunity for incremental appropriate redevelopment of lower quality buildings within the existing street pattern.

An improved coordinated public realm will unify the area’s character and act as a backdrop to the activities taking place within it. Whilst it is anticipated that the area will remain a nighttime destination, the control of associated noise and antisocial behaviour will be enforced to create a safe and attractive environment for a growing number of town centre residents and visitors. The pedestrianisation of Regent Street will encourage greater footfall from the seafront. Surface improvements will provide a clear and obvious route to and from the seafront and pier. High Street south’s retailing offer will be rejuvenated by the Dolphin Square development drawing people along this route. The upper storeys of properties will see residential uses add to the vibrancy of the area. In the longer term opportunities to redevelop some of the poor quality buildings in the block with the NCP car park will be explored.

 

DEVELOPMENT PRINCIPLES

  • Development of the Dolphin Square phase 4 site will need to establish a high quality place to live which can link the diverse adjacent developments creating a transition between the finer grain and lower urban form of St James Street and the larger mass of earlier development phases. It should make much of its seafront and conservation area location, establish Carlton Street as part of a new continuous and tree-lined east-west avenue linking the station to the seafront and deliver an informal north-south pedestrian route through the development, connecting Carlton Street and Oxford Street. The development should contribute to the quality of the surrounding public realm and overall greening of the town. Any development will need to make appropriate provision for associated car parking on site.
  • Development and regeneration within the existing built form should contribute to the quarter’s diverse character. Incremental, high quality re-development and refurbishments for independent business and meanwhile uses (temporary use of empty properties), mixed with existing and new independent retail, food and drink outlets, residential and student accommodation uses will be welcomed.
  • All land uses, including those supporting the night-time economy should ensure a safe and attractive environment can be maintained at all times, controlling noise and antisocial behaviour.
  • Creative re-use and sensitive contemporary re-development of existing buildings within the existing urban form will be encouraged
  • Retain vehicular access for access and servicing, including access to NCP car park off High Street.
  • Improve public realm to create a coherent identity, strengthen physical and visual connections between the primary shopping area, the seafront, Dolphin Square and Walliscote Place.
  • Where re-development of existing plots is appropriate, new development should respect the generally continuous building lines with occasional well-designed setbacks to increase spillout/sitting out space.
  • Development should respond to the environmental conditions/microclimate of the site, particularly close to the sea where sites are most exposed to the prevailing south-westerly winds, and where provision of shelter will be required.
  • Care should be taken to enhance the strong building line and frontage typical of the existing seafront development.

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