North Somerset Council
That the Strategic Planning and Economic Development Policy and Scrutiny Panel consider the policies and proposals in the Weston Town Centre Area Action Plan Preferred Options document, which is due to be considered by Executive in June 2009 as a basis for public consultation.
1. Summary of Report
The Town Centre Area Action Plan Preferred Options document identifies the Councils preferred planning policy approach to the regeneration of Weston-super-Mare town centre.
The plan identifies a number of priority sites and sets out the Council’s Preferred Option for the development or improvement of each site. The plan also identifies alternative options that have been considered for each site, and why those options have not been pursued.
The plan identifies the possible phasing of the priority sites throughout the plan period and delivery mechanisms that can be used to help deliver development on the sites.
North Somerset’s Local Development Framework (LDF) will replace the existing Local Plan and will provide a strategic planning framework for the district, guiding change to 2026 and beyond. When adopted, the relevant LDF documents, together with the Regional Spatial Strategy, will form the statutory development plan for North Somerset.
The LDF is made up of a portfolio of documents. The Weston-super-Mare Town Centre Area Action Plan is one of these documents and once adopted will have the legal status of “development plan” and will be afforded statutory weight in guiding decisions on planning applications.
The Area Action Plan will provide detailed planning guidance, and be an important mechanism for ensuring development of an appropriate scale, mix and quality is delivered in Weston town centre.
The Weston Town Centre Area Action Plan Preferred Options document sets out North Somerset Council’s preferred policies and proposals for the regeneration of Weston-super-Mare over the next twenty years. The plan area is divided into three broad areas where certain uses would be appropriate, and identifies “priority sites” within these areas for development, setting out specific uses for each site and principles for how the sites should be developed or improved.
The main objectives of the AAP are to:
The Area Action Plan boundary extends along the seafront from Birnbeck Island down to Royal Sands, and inland along the A370 to Flowerdown Bridge. Appendix 1 shows a map of the Area Action Plan boundary and the three sub areas. The sub-areas and the priority sites within them are:
Seafront where the focus will be on leisure and tourist led uses. Priority sites identified in this area are:
Ř Birnbeck Area – Leisure-led mixed use schemes appropriate on the island and other sites within the identified area. Other appropriate uses include hotels and residential uses.
Ř Melrose Car Park – Remain as car park, but seek to increase car parking capacity along with environmental enhancements.
Ř Grand Pier – Major new year round leisure and tourist attraction. Planning permission granted in March 2009.
Ř Tropicana – Major new year round leisure attraction. Planning permission granted in October 2008.
Retail Core where the focus will be on retail-led mixed use schemes. Priority sites identified in this area are:
Ř Victoria Square – Retail-led mixed use scheme including approximately 6,800sqm retail.
Ř NCP Car Park Site – Retail-led mixed use scheme including approximately 7,000sqm retail.
Ř Dolphin Square – Retail led mixed use scheme including approximately 8,000sqm retail.
Ř Tesco – Retain food store on this site, but reconfigure the site with a new extended store which includes design and environmental enhancements to improve the appearance and connectivity of the site.
Ř St James Street Area – Public realm improvements and potential to redevelop some blocks within this area, particularly buildings fronting the seafront.
Gateway area and A370 Corridor where the focus will be on employment-led mixed use schemes. Priority sites identified in this area are:
Ř Locking Road Car Park – Approximately 16,500m2 of office uses, plus some residential and a multi-storey public car park. The provision of a long stay multi-storey car park on this site may need to be reassessed if Park and Ride proposals were to become a viable option.
Ř Train Station car park sites – Approximately 11,500m2 of office development on sites fronting Station Road roundabout. Retain commuter parking to the rear of the site.
Ř Sunnyside Road Site – Approximately 17,000m2 of office development, plus some residential and community uses.
Ř Rugby Club site – Redevelopment dependant on Club finding a new site. Approximately 19,000m2 office uses, plus residential uses.
Ř Gas Works Site – Approximately 19,000m2 of office uses and 600 residential units.
Ř Avoncrest – Approximately 600 dwellings,10 hectares of employment uses and 5 hectares of open space/playing fields linked with relocation of Rugby Club.
Consultation on the Weston Town Centre Area Action Plan Issues and Options Stage was carried out in October 2007. North Somerset Council received 35 responses to the consultation equalling 167 representations on various issues. The details of the consultation process and the findings are setting out in a Consultation Statement, along with a Schedule of Comments, which were published in February 2008 following the consultation.
The comments received as part of the Issues and Options consultation have been considered and where appropriate the Preferred Options document has been changed or adapted accordingly to take account of these comments.
A Town Centre Landowners Group was established in March 2007 and has been closely involved in the production of this document through regular meetings with officers. The Chair of this group also sits on the Weston Advisory Group. A Weston Town Centre Members Steering Group was also established consisting of councillors from the various wards within the Area Action Plan boundary, and has group has met several time during the plan preparation process. There has also been internal officer consultation with Housing, Economic Development, Asset Management Team, Children and Young Peoples Services, Development Control, Strategic Projects Group, Transport Policy and the Destination Management Team.
It is anticipated that the consultation will involve a series of exhibitions which will be advertised in North Somerset Life, in the local press, as well as on the Council website.
An e-mail or letter will also be sent to all consultees from the Local Development Framework database informing them that the consultation is happening. The Weston Town Centre AAP will be made available to the public by request and in local libraries, as well as being available for download from the Council’s website. The consultation will last for eight weeks commencing the middle of July.
5. Financial Implications
At this stage the only financial implications are the consultation costs which will be met within the approved budget.
6. RISK MANAGEMENT
The preparation of the Local Development Framework is a statutory requirement with the details set out in the Local Development Scheme. The Weston Town Centre Area Action Plan Preferred Options document is timetabled into the Local Development Scheme for publication and consultation in June 2009. Failure to carry out this stage of the consultation could result in a failure to meet Government and Council identified planning priorities and adversely affect opportunities to stimulate investment and regeneration within the town centre. Failure to produce the Area Action Plan and stimulate investment and regeneration within the town centre could adversely affect the role, function and attractiveness of Weston to serve the needs of existing and future residents and potentially lead to additional out-commuting and congestion on the road network particularly at J21 of the M5.
7. Equality Implications
Consultation will be in accordance with the Statement of Community Involvement.
8. Corporate Implications
The Local Development Framework is prepared in line with the Sustainable Community Strategy and sets out the context for delivering sustainable development in the future. It is important that all documents within the Local Development Framework are progressed within the timescales identified in the Local Development Scheme to ensure delivery of sustainable development.
9. Options considered
The Weston Town Centre Area Action Plan has been scheduled into the Local Development Scheme and as such there is a government expectation to produce the Area Action Plan. Its preparation is essential to progress the Local Development Framework, and deliver town centre regeneration for Weston-super-Mare. Not to produce the Area Action Plan would undermine the comprehensive approach to the regeneration of Weston town centre resulting in the failure of Weston to take advantage of its position as a strategically significant town to meet its full potential.
Claire Brennan – Principal Planning Policy Officer
Tel: 01934 42 6816
Weston Town Centre Area Action Plan Issues and Options Document (October 2007).
Weston Town Centre AAP Issues and Options Consultation Statement (February 2008)
Weston Town Centre AAP Issues and Options Consultation Schedule of Comments (February 2008)
North Somerset Local Development Scheme (March 2009)
Weston Area Development Framework (June 2005)
North Somerset Replacement Local Plan (March 2007)
Weston Area Action Plan (December 2006) including:
· Baseline Evidence Review Overarching Report
· Consultation – Statement of Compliance
· Vision and Options Report
· Preferred Options Report.
Appendix 1: Weston Town Centre Area Action Plan boundary, sub-areas and priority sites.