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North Place and Portland Street Sustainability Appraisal

1. Introduction

1.1. Context

The Cheltenham Development Task Force consisting of Cheltenham Borough Council (CBC), Gloucestershire County Council (GCC), the South West of England Regional Development Agency (SWRDA) and the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) has been tasked with delivering the Cheltenham Civic Pride Urban Design Framework (UDF). Part of this comprises the North Place Development Brief.
 
The North Place Development Brief was previously adopted as a Technical Appendix to the Urban Design Framework SPD produced in 2008. However, due to the economic slump and other factors, questions have been raised as to whether the Brief, as adopted, can effectively be delivered. This is a conclusion which has been reached by the Cheltenham Development Task Force which was set up by the council and its partners to drive forward the Civic Pride programme and bring key regeneration sites forward for Cheltenham.
 
The Task Force has now generated a revised option for the North Place Development Brief and upon considering the changes; it has been decided to revise the Sustainability Appraisal accordingly. This document is purely an appraisal of the revised North Place Development Brief; the remaining sections of the original SPD remain as they were. If successful and following consultation, the revised brief shall be re-adopted as part of the SPD for the Civic Pride UDF, thereby replacing the current development brief.

1.2. Purpose of Civic Pride

The aim of the project is to preserve the regency heritage of the town whilst at the same time revitalising the street scene, including the buildings, roads and open spaces. This will help Cheltenham work towards its objective of becoming the most beautiful town in England. The scheme will also seek to attract investment from the private sector to add more leading retailers and other commercial users as well as smaller independent traders to the vibrant mix of shops and services already present in the town.
 
A Development Brief was prepared for the North Place site and adopted in 2008.   The site is publicly owned in the main, and has been previously identified as a site that can be taken forward for development.
 
This site offers a wonderful opportunity for maximum impact in terms of urban design / public realm priorities and assist in the delivery of a local plan allocation. It is high profile, both in terms of its visibility / position on approaches into the town centre, and in terms of public aspirations for Cheltenham. In regard to its size, it offers a significant opportunity for large scale redevelopment. The revised Development Brief for North Place is to be re-adopted as a Supplementary Planning Document (SPD), and therefore will be subjected to a Sustainability Appraisal (SA). The following report documents the original scoping and options appraisal stages of the SA of the original SPD as it has been agreed with the statutory consultees that a new scoping report is not required for the revised Development Brief. However, this revised SA report provides an update of the Policies, Plans and Programmes (PPPs) and the Baseline so that an up to date picture is painted. It has also been possible to identify some additional trends that were not possible at the time of the original SA, thereby improving the robustness of the assessment.
 
This report presents a detailed appraisal of the revised preferred option against the previous preferred option for North Place with mitigation measures and recommendations.

1.3. Preparation of Development Briefs

The council intends to re-adopt a revised Development Brief for North Place as part of the Civic Pride UDF.
 
PPS12; 'Local Development Frameworks' outlines the status and function of SPDs which the Development Brief will become part of. SPDs are not DPDs and do not have statutory status but are material considerations in planning applications and they must relate to DPD policies. The role of SPDs is to expand and supplement policies set out in the DPDs or saved policies in the existing Local Plan.
  
There are statutory procedures, which must be followed in preparing SPDs. Although not subject to independent examination by a Planning Inspector, they are subject to Sustainability Appraisal (incorporating Strategic Environmental Assessment) and consultation requirements of the Statement of Community Involvement (SCI) as well as Regulations of the Town and Country Planning (Local Development) (England) Regulations 2004 which relate to public participation. The 2008 Planning Act removed the requirement for certain SPDs to be subject to the SA process where they do not have significant environmental implications. However, as this is an area based document which could potentially have significant environmental implications it is deemed appropriate to carry out a revised SA.

1.4. Cheltenham Borough Council's LDF

During 2006 work began on Cheltenham's LDF which was the emerging development plan for Cheltenham. Under the Government's planning reforms introduced by the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act (2004), LDFs are to replace existing Local Plans. In 2008, Cheltenham Borough Council agreed to produce a Joint Core Strategy (JCS) with Gloucester City and Tewkesbury Borough Councils. The JCS will form part of the new LDF and will set out the strategy for the way in which land is used and will guide new development in the three authorities for a 10 to 15 year period.
 
The LDF will consist of a number of other Local Development Documents including a number of non-statutory Supplementary Planning Documents (SPDs), setting out detailed guidance at a more specific level.
 
In addition to these LDDs, CBC is also required to prepare a number of further documents as part of the LDF process, including:
 
  • Local Development Scheme (LDS) - 3 year project plan for the preparation of the LDF, setting out key milestones in DPD production and the resources required in producing these documents.
  • Statement of Community Involvement (SCI) - outlines how CBC aims to involve local communities and stakeholders in the DPD and SPD preparation process.
  • Proposals Map - shows the areas to which the DPD policies relate. The existing Local Plan Proposals Map will be updated as new policies materialise.
  • Annual Monitoring Report - this report will outline and monitor progress made with the preparation of Cheltenham's LDF.

1.5. Sustainability Appraisal (Incorporating SEA) of Development Briefs

Notwithstanding the specific circumstances in the aforementioned 2008 Planning Act, the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act (2004) requires a Sustainability Appraisal (SA) of all LDDs. Sustainability Appraisals help planning authorities to fulfil the objective of contributing to the achievement of sustainable development in preparing their plans through a structured assessment of options and policies against key sustainability issues for their area.  
 
The requirement to undertake Strategic Environmental Assessments is established in the EU by the European Directive 2001/42/EC, 'the Assessment of the Effects of Certain Plans and Programmes on the Environment'.
 
The EU SEA Directive is transposed into English law by the SEA Regulations, Statutory Instrument SI 2004 No.1633 (HMSO).
 
The SA for the this Development Brief referred back to the original SA Scoping Report of the Core Strategy (Consultation version) which were aligned to the objectives of the Core Strategy. These objectives still remain accurate and relevant as the Joint Core Strategy develops and, therefore, do not need to be changed.
 
The preparation of this SA Report is the third stage of the appraisal process. In the first stage the aim is to present the baseline, identify sustainability issues and build the SA Framework. The next stage identifies and documents the predicted effects of the options developed. The results of this appraisal aids in the decision making process to identify the preferred Development Brief option. The third stage comprises the sustainability appraisal of the preferred option and identifies mitigation measures and recommendations. This report will accompany the revised draft Development Brief for consultation and refinement.

1.6. Key SA/SEA Stages

Sustainability Appraisal, incorporating Strategic Environmental Assessment has a number of process stages which have been formalised in England through the following guidance:
 
'A Practical Guide to the Strategic Environmental Assessment Directive' (ODPM, 2005).
 
'Sustainability Appraisal of Regional Spatial Strategies and Local Development Documents' (ODPM, 2005).
 
These stages are detailed below:
 
Stage A: Setting the context and objectives, establishing the baseline and deciding on the scope.
 
A1) Identifying other policies, plans and programmes, and carrying out a review of any environmental protection objectives within them. The relationships between the Development Brief and these policies, plans and programmes should be examined to allow synergies to be exploited and inconsistencies/constraints to be addressed.
 
A2) Collating baseline information in order to help identify environmental issues and opportunities relevant to the Development Brief site. This information will also provide the evidence base against which potential effects can be measured and assessed along with identifying any gaps in data which can then be addressed through the monitoring section of the SA/SEA.
 
A3) Identification of key sustainability issues and opportunities for the Development Brief. This will involve collating and documenting the outputs from Tasks A1 and A2 above in terms of potential environmental issues and opportunities that have been highlighted. Issues identified in the original Cheltenham SA LDF Scoping Report are also considered for their relevance to the Development Brief. This section will be added to throughout the SA/SEA process as more issues and opportunities become apparent; particularly during the consultation on the scope of the SA/SEA.
 
A4) Developing the Sustainability Appraisal Framework. The environmental protection objectives identified in A1, and the environmental issues and opportunities identified in A3 should assist in the development of a number of sustainability objectives, indicators and targets. Input from relevant stakeholders during the consultation on the scope of the SA is important for the formation of this framework.
 
A5) A 5 week consultation period on the scope of the SA/SEA should be allowed by the LPA in order to satisfy the requirements of the SEA Directive. Those consulted must include the three statutory environmental consultation bodies (Natural England, English Heritage and the Environment Agency).
The original scoping report has been deemed to still be valid as the issues are the same as before. However, in the interests of completeness, an update to the PPPs and baseline has been agreed with the three statutory consultees.
 
Stage B: Developing and refining options and assessing effects.
 
B1) Testing the Development Brief objectives against the sustainability appraisal framework. Assessing the compatibility of the objectives will allow them to be refined and will also provide a good base from which Task B2 can be commenced.
 
B2) Developing the Development Brief options. Taking into account the requirements of Regulation 17 of the Local Development Regulations, the LPAs or their representatives will need to develop options. These options will be further refined as a result of the findings of Task B3 and B4. It may be possible to drop some alternatives at an early stage if they are not viable - but reasons for elimination must be documented in the SA Report (Stage C).
 
B3) and B4) Prediction and evaluation of the effects of the draft Development Brief. The options being considered as part of the process should be appraised using a matrix based approach combined with a well presented qualitative representation of the evidence base and thought process behind each decision. This approach will be used to both predict and evaluate the effects of the Development Brief options and present the results in a way that they can be compared both with each other and the 'business as usual' scenario.
 
One output of tasks B3 and B4 is likely to be the identification of further sustainability issues and opportunities relevant to the Development Brief. These should be used to update those previously proposed during task A3.
 
B5) Mitigation of adverse effects and maximisation of beneficial effects of the Development Brief. Measures to prevent, reduce or offset significant adverse effects of implementing the Development Brief, along with measures for enhancing the beneficial effects, should be included in the SA Report.
 
B6) Proposing measures to monitor the significant effects of implementing the Development Brief. The indicators first proposed within task A4 (which themselves will be based on those used in the baseline for the original LDF SA Framework) shall be used as a basis. Information gaps identified during baseline collation can also be tackled by suggesting appropriate indicators which would require collection of that particular data. This monitoring framework shall be revisited and extended later in the SA/SEA process.
 
Stage C: Preparing the Sustainability Appraisal Report.
 
C1) The SA Report records the outputs of Stages A and B in a document upon which formal consultation is carried out.
 
Stage D: Consulting on the draft Development Brief and SA Report.
 
D1) Public participation on the draft Development Brief and the Sustainability Appraisal Report.
 
D2) Any significant changes needed as a result of consultation should be appraised. If changes are not significant, they should still be documented and any changes in appraisal scores made apparent.
 
D3) Preparation of  SA Statement. Following the adoption of the Development Brief, a statement must be prepared to show how it was changed as a result of the SA process (or indeed why there were no changes made, or why options were rejected). At this stage the monitoring measures can be confirmed or further modified in light of consultation responses and made available to the public (Stage E).
 
Stage E: Finalising the SA Monitoring Framework
 
E1) Finalising aims, methods and responsibilities for monitoring.
 
E2) Consideration of contingencies in light of adverse effects.
 
Table 1.1 demonstrates how the revised SA process will run alongside the development of the revised Development Brief.
 
Table 1.1 - SA/SEA and Development Brief Timetable
table 1.1

1.7. Links with the SA of Cheltenham's LDF

The Sustainability Appraisal Scoping Report for the previous Core Strategy LDF[1], prepared by CBC, provided some key inputs to the SPD SA Framework. This was important, to align the objectives of the Core Strategy SA with that of the Development Brief SA and in order to establish a direction for the Brief SA. As set out earlier, whilst the proposed core strategy for Cheltenham has been superseded by the proposed JCS, the framework and objectives are still fit for purpose.
 
To ensure that the guiding principles and objectives of the LDF SA were adopted within the SA carried out for the Development Brief; the following sections of the Scoping Report were taken into consideration during the scoping exercise for the SA of the Development Brief:
 
The revised SA has provided an update of the review of relevant plans, programmes and sustainability objectives from the original SA and has provided the SA of the Development Brief with a comprehensive list of international, national, regional and local plans / programmes that needed to be considered in the development of the SA Framework. This table was adapted so as to remove any plans / programmes that were not relevant to the Development Brief in question (e.g. rural development strategies), and also to consider the implications of the objectives and requirements of the different plans / programmes on the Development Brief (and its SA) instead of on the LDF.
 
SEA / SA Baseline Information - provided the SA of the Development Brief with a number of key indicators and relevant baseline trend data to satisfy the majority of the objectives identified in the SA Framework for the Brief. These have also been updated as part of the revised SA.
 
SA Framework - the SA Framework for the LDF (as previously set out) provided the base of the SA Framework developed for the Development Brief. The SA objectives themselves are adapted so as to be more relevant to the Brief, however, all relevant objectives from the SA Framework for the LDF have been considered and their linkages with the SA Framework for the Brief have been signposted.
 
Identification and Key Sustainability Issues and Opportunities - provided foresight on a number of sustainability issues and opportunities in Cheltenham. Those relevant to this Development Brief have been taken forward into the SA process.

 

1.8. Purpose of the Sustainability Appraisal

This Report comprises the revised draft Sustainability Appraisal (SA) Report and supersedes the parts of the SA Report from 2008 relevant to North Place. This Draft Sustainability Report will be submitted with the Preferred Options Development Brief for public consultation. The final Development Brief and Sustainability Report will then be formally adopted by the Council.
 
This Scoping Report documents tasks A1 to D2 of the SA process, outlined in the latest DCLG guidance, as reproduced in the following table;
pink table


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