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Technical Appendix: North Place and Portland Street Development Brief

3. Development Context

3.1. Since the adoption of the Brief in 2008, much of the contextual information has been up dated. This section contains information which is current as at July 2010.

3.2. The site consists of two extensive surface car parks on cleared sites about 250 metres north of the High Street (Plan 1). Together they total about 2.1 ha. Generally, to the north, west and east of the site are historic residential suburbs; to the south and east is town centre related development.

3.3. The site is allocated for mixed use development under Policy PR2 of the Cheltenham Borough Local Plan. The uses identified in the Plan are housing with a minimum 100 units, including 50 affordable dwellings; public car parking; public open space; and other possible public uses. Since the Plan's adoption in 2006 market conditions have changed significantly and there is detailed evidence to guide the most appropriate type of development, for example in the Housing Needs Assessment (2009).  The overarching housing issue to address on the site is the delivery of affordable housing and the Council now considers this is best reflected in Policy HS 4 a generic housing policy which requires 40% affordable housing.

3.4. The site is within the Central Conservation Area and is covered by the Old Town Character Appraisal and Management Plan, an adopted SPD.

3.5. Both of these documents form part of the statutory planning framework for the site. A list of the most relevant planning documents and policies is appended: they will be used to determine planning and related applications for the development of the site.

3.6. The land is owned by Cheltenham Borough Council (CBC), with a stopped up road (Warwick Place) in the south of the site owned by Gloucestershire County Council (GCC).

3.7. The location of the site within the Central Conservation Area gives the site a status as a designated heritage asset within Planning Policy Statement 5. This document requires all parties (potential developers and planning authority) to understand the significance of heritage assets both in terms of this particular site and the significance of nearby heritage assets and their settings. A separate heritage assessment for the site is being prepared independently to assist with the interpretation and assessment of any future proposals, to enable "the understanding of significance" requirements of PPS5 to be fulfilled. This analysis will assess the following characteristics:

The heritage significance of the site, being a site located with the conservation area
• The significance of nearby assets and the contribution of their setting;
• The general character and distinctiveness of the local buildings, spaces public realm and the landscape;
• Landmarks and other features that are key to a sense of place;
• The diversity or uniformity in style, construction, materials, detailing, decoration and period of existing buildings and spaces;
• The topography;
• Views both into and from the site and its surroundings;
• Green landscape;
• The current and historic uses in the area and the urban grain.


3.8. Historically the sites were principally dominated by two uses. The majority of the area of North Place car park was the site of a large detached 19th century house with large landscaped gardens until the construction of the Black & White coach station. The house was subsequently demolished and the garden used as coach parking and then a car park. The site of Portland Street car park was Victorian housing of mixed quality around an internal lane until demolished in the latter half of the 20th century. In terms of street layout - North Place and Portland Street existed on their current lines; St Margaret's Road extended only as far as North Street in the east, with the east-west route involving a dog-leg along Warwick Place until its extension as part of the construction of the northern relief road in the 1980's. The maps of 1884 and 1902 provide some helpful visual clues as to the historic layout.

3.9. The site lies within the Central Conservation Area and although it has no structures within the curtilage there are buildings within close proximity that are listed as II*, II or alternatively noted on the Index of Buildings of Local Interest.

3.10. The Gloucestershire County Council Archaeology area summary (a desk based survey) for the car parks carried out in 2001 identified the following potential for archaeological finds.

3.11. "The Desk Based Assessment identified a field boundary and trackway which may be pre-medieval, a probable medieval field system, a terrace of buildings dating to at least 1800, small scale building development covering a period between 1806 and 1855, and a C20 coach station and car parks. Any C19 buildings with cellars will have destroyed evidence of earlier activity. The Desk Based Assessment identified an area which appears to have remained largely undeveloped through the C19 and C20, where it is possible that earlier features and deposits will have survived. {Source Work 6468.}"

3.12. This analysis suggests that the likelihood of any earlier features surviving on Portland Street is remote given that this area was previously Victorian housing with cellars. However there are elements of North Place that may have survived relatively undisturbed and where further analysis and investigation would be appropriate.

3.13. Flood risk is recognised as a significant issue for Cheltenham residents following the events of 2007. As such this site will be considered as Stage 2 of the Strategic Flood Risk Assessment, the findings of which are expected in Autumn 2010. An extract from the Environment Agency in response to the initial brief is at Appendix 2. From the response analysis it is evident that with an appropriate approach and well developed strategy the site can realise a significant number of the strategic aims set out in the original Development Brief. The greening helps support the biodiversity, whilst underground car parking can be achieved so long as due regard is made to the water table and aquifer.

1884 Map

1884 MAP


1902 Map

1902 MAP



3.14. Plan 2 gives an analysis of the site and its surroundings. The main points are:

a. The site is a flat cleared brownfield site, with little of aesthetic value - a few semi mature trees are set on the Portland Street and St Margaret's Road boundaries.

3.15. Movement

b. St. Margaret's Road is part of the orbital northern relief road and heavily trafficked at peak times. The considerable amount of paraphernalia associated with managing traffic on St Margaret's Road has a negative impact on the quality of the street;
c. Portland Street is historically the main northern approach to the town centre, though at this point it is currently one-way out of town with a contra-flow in-bound bus lane. It is heavily trafficked;
d. North Place splits the site;
e. Warwick Place is decommissioned highway used for parking as part of the neighbouring health club and is an unsightly edge to the site which should be incorporated into the redevelopment;
f. A number of important pedestrian routes come into and pass through the site - linking the town centre, the Brewery, Pittville Park and northern residential suburbs;
g. The site is well located for most bus routes in the town.

3.16. Neighbouring development

h. The site is addressed by the rear of predominantly residential buildings at Northfield Terrace and Clarence Square to the north, St Margaret's Terrace to the south and Dowty House to the west;
i. Across Portland Street to the east is a mix of building styles, heights and uses (residential, religious, commercial);
j. The Brewery, a recent retail development, is across St Margaret's Road to the south west;
k. A number of key neighbouring buildings are listed and the site is within the Central Conservation Area.


Plan 2

3.17. Plan 2 gives an analysis of the site and its surroundings. The main points are:

a. The amenity of adjacent residential uses needs to be protected
b. There is a requirement to consider the adjacent Listed Buildings and their settings, in particular Holy Trinity Church and St Margaret's Terrace rear elevation
c. There are a number of views across the site to Holy Trinity Church, St Mary's Church and to the Cotswolds
d. St Margaret's Road and Portland Street experience heavy traffic flows and have few opportunities for pedestrian crossing;
e. The site may contain archaeological remains
f. There is a need to retain about 300 public car parking spaces on the site in some form
g. The site has limited localised contamination resulting form former use as a coach station.

3.18. Plan 2 identifies some of the site's opportunities.

a. Public consultation on various elements of the Civic Pride Urban Design Framework, demonstrated significant support for the approaches outlined in this brief - notably support for mixed use development on North Place/Portland Street, addressing pedestrian severance from the town centre and delivering high quality streets and public spaces. The redevelopment of this site offers an opportunity to build on that support.
b. The site is in a strategically important location on the edge of Cheltenham's town centre on two major routes. It provides a key opportunity to form a new northern gateway to the town centre. Redevelopment of this site also provides an excellent opportunity to expand the core of the town centre, by creating a new focus for the town north of the High Street.
c. As a cleared brownfield site, with few redeeming features, the site is a blank canvas for a major new development, with its own sense of place and the opportunity to create bespoke spaces and streets.
d. The site has the potential for the development of blocks on a strong east-west orientation, providing a good opportunity for an environmentally sustainable development with a low carbon footprint.
e. The location within the historic fabric of the town and its well developed block structure establishes a strong framework with the potential to build a network of urban blocks, streets and spaces - see PPS5 historic context statement
f. The site offers the opportunity to provide a mix of suitable town centre  and edge of centre uses, including:
   i. Residential development which reflects the findings of the Housing Needs Study (2009)- with a minimum of 40% affordable units
  ii. Employment uses
  iii. A 6 bay bus node for local and national buses
  iv. Public car park for about 300 cars - here, there is an opportunity to consider placing parking underground as one of a number of options.
g. The site should realise Civic Pride Urban Design Strategy objectives around the provision of new public space and pedestrian linkages between the Promenade and Pittville Park
h. The site also offers an opportunity to create internal linkages and viewing corridors and a series of high quality public spaces which
    i. enhances the setting of Holy Trinity Church
   ii. provides high quality public spaces
  iii. link the towns two historic promenades (The Promenade and Pittville Park) 
  iv. addresses the pedestrian severance between St Margaret's Road and the Brewery by delivering clear pedestrian connections
  v.  mark significant focal points within the site
i. There is a further opportunity to provide strong active building frontages and space along St Margaret's Road and Portland Street
j. There are wider views of the Cotswold Scarp and town centre churches which, if retained, could enhance the structure and layout of the development.
k. There is the potential to radically re-consider traffic management arrangements and to enhance of the road corridor in St Margaret's Road. This would help to address the problem of pedestrian severance, improving linkages to the town centre and creating a pleasant street in line with the various strategic objectives of the Civic Pride Urban Design Framework.

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