Skip to main content

North Place and Portland Street Sustainability Appraisal

2. Environmental Baseline and Context

2.1. Review of Plans and Programmes

A review has been undertaken of relevant policies, plans, programmes and sustainability objectives. This was done at an international, national, regional, and local level. A more detailed breakdown of the objectives for each of the documents and their likely implications for the Development Brief is included in Appendix 1.
 
Policies, plans and programmes reviewed at each level include: 
 

INTERNATIONAL PLANS, POLICIES AND PROGRAMMES

Johannesburg Declaration on Sustainable Development 

Kyoto Agreement

Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) Directive

EU Habitats Directive (92/43/EEC) & Birds Directive (79/409/EEC)

EU Water Framework Directive (2000/60/EC)

European Spatial Development Perspective

Red List of Threatened Species - A Global Species Assessment

Ambient Air Quality and Management Directive (1966/62/EC)

 

NATIONAL PLANS, POLICIES AND PROGRAMMES

PPS1: Sustainable Development and Climate Change (2005)

PPS1 Supplement: Planning and Climate Change (2007)

UK Climate Change Programme 2006

UKCIP08 Science Reports, The Climate of the UK and Recent Trends (2008)

UK Sustainable Development Strategy (2005)

One Future, Different Paths - UK's Shared Framework for Sustainable Development  (2005)

PPS 3: Housing (2010)

PPS4: Planning for Sustainable Economic Growth (2009)

Employment Land Reviews: Guidance Notes (2004)

Good Practice Guide on Planning for Tourism (2006)

PPS5: Planning for the Historic Environment (2010)

Heritage Counts: the state of the Historic Environment (2005)

PPG8: Telecommunications (2001)

PPS9: Biodiversity and Geological Conservation (2005)

UK Biodiversity Action Plan (1994)

The Changing Flora of the UK (2002)

Working With the Grain of Nature: A Biodiversity Action Plan for England (2002)

Horseshoe Bats (2003)

The State of the Natural Environment (2008)

The Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010

PPS10: Planning for Sustainable Waste and Management (1999)

PPS12: Local Spatial Planning (2008)

LDFs, Guidance on Sustainability Appraisals (2007)

Using Evidence in Spatial Planning (2007)

Diversity and Equality in Planning (2005)

PPG13: Transport (2001)

Future of Transport White Paper (2004)

National Cycling Strategy

PPG14: Unstable Land (1990)

PPG17: Sport and Recreation (2002)

'Bringing Communities Together Through Sport and Culture' - Sport England (2004)

Sport England - Creating Local Policy Guidance:

Spatial Planning for Sport: Creating Local Policy

Spatial Planning for Sport and Active Recreation: Sport and Recreation in SPDs (2009)

PPS22: Renewable Energy (2004)

Energy White Paper: 'Our energy future - creating a low carbon economy'

A Woodfuel Strategy for England (2007)

PPS23: Planning and Pollution Control (2004)

Air Quality Strategy for England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales (2007)

PPG24: Planning and Noise (1994)

PPS25: Development and Flood Risk (2010)

The Water Framework Directive and Planning ( 2006)

New Commitment to Neighbourhood Renewal: A National Strategy (2001)

Sustainable Communities: Building for the Future (2003)

A Programme to Create Cleaner, Safer, Greener Communities (2005)

Our Healthier Nation (1999)

Census 2001

Indices of Deprivation

Quality of Life Counts, 1999-2004

Local and Regional CO2 Emissions Estimates

 

REGIONAL PLANS, POLICIES AND PROGRAMMES

Regional Planning Guidance for the South West (RPG10, GOSW, 2001) REVOKED

Regional Spatial Strategy for the South West, 2006-2026 (Draft 2006) REVOKED

Revised SW RSS Incorporating Proposed Changes (2008) and accompanying evidence base REVOKED

Shaping the Future of Cheltenham and Gloucester to 2026 (SWRA, 2004) - evidence for the SW RSS

Just Connect! - the Integrated Regional Strategy for the South West, 2004-2026 (SWRA, 2004)

Now Connecting, 2005 - the Integrated Regional Strategy for the South West Delivery Plan (SWRA, Nov 2004)

South West Regional Economic Strategy, 2003-2012 (SWRDA) - REVOKED

State of the Key Sectors Reports (SWRDA, September 2004)

'A Sustainable Future for the South West' - The Regional Sustainable Development Framework for the South West (SWRA, 2001)

'Warming to the Idea' - South West Region Climate Change Impacts Scoping Study

South West Regional Housing Strategy, 2005-16 (SW Housing Body / SWRA)

Developing the Regional Transport Strategy in the South West (SWRA, 2004)

Regional Renewable Energy Strategy for the South West of England (2003-2010)

REvision 2020 - Empowering the Region (GOSW/SWRA, 2004)

REvision 2020 - South West Renewable Electricity, Heat and On-site Generation Targets for 2020 (GOSW/SWRA, 2005)

'Our Environment, Our Future' - Regional Environmental Strategy for the South West Environment, 2004-2014 (SWRA)

South West Regional Biodiversity Action Plan (1997) and Implementation Plan (2004)

South West Nature Map - A Planner's Guide (Biodiversity South West, 2007)

Strategy for the Historic Environment in the South West, 2004 (English Heritage, 2004)

A Guide to Sustainable Tourism in the South West (2000)

Towards 2015: Shaping Tomorrow's Tourism (SWRDA and SW Tourism, 2004)

Culture and the Regional Spatial Strategy for the South West (SWRA, 2005)

People, Places and Spaces (Culture South West, 2007)

A Better Place to Be - A Cultural Strategy for the South West (Culture South West, 2008)

Regional Quality of Life Counts (DEFRA)

State of the South West Report, (SW Observatory, 2010)

 

COUNTY LEVEL PLANS, POLICIES AND PROGRAMMES

Gloucestershire Structure Plan Second Review (Gloucestershire County Council, 1999)

Gloucestershire Structure Plan Third Review (Gloucestershire County Council, 2004)

Gloucestershire County Council Corporate Strategy, 2006 onwards (GCC, 2006)

Our Place, Our Future - Gloucestershire Sustainable Communities Strategy (Gloucs Conference, 2007)

Local Agenda 21 Strategy for a Sustainable Gloucestershire (GCC, 2000)

Sustainable Gloucestershire - the Vision 21 handbook for creating a brighter future (1996)

Sustainable Gloucestershire - An agenda for urgent action for Local Authorities

Gloucestershire Community Strategy, 2004-14 (Gloucestershire Strategic Partnership, 2004)

Gloucestershire Local Transport Plan 2000

Gloucestershire Local Transport Plan 2, 2006-11 (LTP2)

Gloucestershire Local Transport Plan 3, 2011-26 (LTP3)

Gloucestershire Economic Strategy 2003-14 (GCC, 2004)

The Economy of Gloucestershire (Glos First, 2008)

Gloucestershire Urban Economic Strategy 2007-15 (GCC, 2008)

Gloucestershire Rural Economic Strategy 2007-15 (GCC, 2008)

Gloucestershire Workspace Strategy (Glosfirst, 2005)

Labour Force Projection to 2026 (GCC, 2007)

Migrant Workers in Gloucestershire (GCC, 2007)

Gloucestershire Children and Young People's Plan 2006-09 (GCC)

Gloucestershire Housing Needs Assessment (GCC, 2009)

Gloucestershire and Districts Strategic Housing Market Assessment (GCC, 2009)

Gloucestershire & Districts Affordable Housing Site Viability Study, Final Report (GCC & Districts, 2009)

Gloucestershire Housing Monitor (GCC, 2010)

Housing and Household s in Gloucestershire (GCC, 2006)

Gloucestershire Local Projections 2010 (GCC, 2010)

Gloucestershire Renewable Energy Action Plan (2005)

Gloucestershire Energy Strategy  2007-17 (GCC)

Gloucestershire Biodiversity Action Plan (Gloucestershire County Council, 2000)

Gloucestershire Nature Map (Glos Biodiversity Partnership, 2008)

Gloucestershire Historic Landscape Characterisation (GCC, 2006)

Gloucestershire Character Landscape Assessment (GCC, 2006)

A County-wide Air Quality Strategy for Gloucestershire (GCC, 2004)

Gloucestershire Minerals Local Plan (Gloucestershire County Council, 2003)

Minerals Core Strategy Preferred Option (GCC, 2008)

Gloucestershire Waste Local Plan 2002-12 (GCC, 2004)

Gloucestershire Waste Core Strategy, Preferred Options and Site Options (GCC, 2009)

Report of the Director of Public Health (2005)

Local Area Agreement (GCC, 2007)

Gloucestershire Compact (GCC, 2005)

The Gloucestershire Story 2009 (GCC, 2009)

Gloucestershire Archaeology Survey 2002-07 (GCC, 2002)

 

CHELTENHAM PLANS, POLICIES AND PROGRAMMES

Cheltenham Borough Council's Local Agenda 21 Position Statement

Cheltenham's Community Plan - Our Future, Our Choice (2008 -  2011)

DRAFT Cheltenham Community Safety Partnership 2008 - 2011

Cheltenham's Cultural Strategy 2002 to 2006 (Background only)

Cheltenham Economic Development Strategy (2007 - 2011)

Cheltenham Homelessness Strategy (2008 - 2013)

Cheltenham Housing Strategy (2005 - 2010)

Cheltenham Local Plan Second Review 1991 - 2011 (Adopted 2006)

Climate Change: A Strategy for Cheltenham (May 2005)

Corporate Strategy 2010 - 2015

Environmental Management Strategy (1997)

'Improving Our Sustainability Performance' - A review of Cheltenham Borough Council's existing performance

Nottingham Declaration

Supplementary Planning Guidance: Affordable Housing

Supplementary Planning Guidance: Amenity Space in Residential Development

Supplementary Planning Guidance: Landscaping in new development

Supplementary Planning Guidance: Planning Obligations

Supplementary Planning Guidance: Planning Obligations - Transport

Supplementary Planning Guidance: Play Space in Residential Development

Supplementary Planning Guidance: Public Art

Supplementary Planning Guidance: Submission of Planning Applications

Supplementary Planning Guidance: Security and Crime Prevention

Supplementary Planning Guidance: Sustainable Buildings

Supplementary Planning Guidance: Sustainable Developments

Supplementary Planning Guidance: Sustainable Drainage Systems 

Supplementary Planning Guidance: Travel Plans

Sustainable Construction Action Plan

Green Space Strategy (July 2009)

2.2. Summary of Conflicts and Implications

Some key points arising from the review are listed below. These have been taken account of in the SA Framework.
 
Climate Change and Risk of Flooding
Potential options for development should take into account the need to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases within their design, so as to help achieve national greenhouse gas emission targets and the objectives of Cheltenham's Climate Change Strategy.
 
Potential options should reduce the need to travel and promote a modal shift from the private car to public transport, walking and cycling.
 
Proposals should explore opportunities for renewable energy use and generation within their proposals.
 
Potential options for development should, where appropriate, make use of Sustainable Drainage Systems (SUDS) to control water run-off.
 
The Development Brief should not propose development in areas at unacceptable risk from flooding and must consider potential mitigation and management of flood risk
 
A Joint Core Strategy-wide Strategic Flood Risk Assessment (SFRA) level 2 is expected to be completed in autumn 2010. The assessment will provide detailed flooding data and mapping for the Borough and will further inform the Development Briefs. Until then, SFRA level 1 shall continue to be used to make initial assessments.
 
Air Quality
Commitments and obligations to improving air quality within Cheltenham Town Centre should be taken into consideration when developing options.
 
Water Quality
The water quality in the River Chelt, downstream of Cheltenham is poor due to sewerage inputs. Future development should not further decrease water quality and, where possible, should improve it.
 
Biodiversity
Proposals should pay due consideration to the biodiversity recommendations of the 'Urban Habitats' Action Plan contained within Gloucestershire's Biodiversity Action Plan.
 
Townscape and Urban Renaissance
Priority should be given to previously developed land and buildings when considering new development.
 
Proposals should revitalise and enhance the urban area. 
 
Cultural Heritage
All options should take account of the need to preserve and enhance Cheltenham's historic environment.
 
Economic Issues
Potential options should help enhance Cheltenham's reputation as a tourist destination.
 
Resource Usage and Material Assets
Proposals should consider the importance of layout and design of developments in terms of opportunities for waste minimisation and encouraging recycling (contributing to the achievement of Waste Local Plan targets).
 
Any new buildings should be developed using materials and methods that have a reduced impact on the environment (this includes consideration of the whole 'lifecycle' of a building, from construction to demolition).
 
Population and Social Issues
Potential options should consider the need to encourage social cohesion within Cheltenham Town Centre.
 
Levels of social deprivation in certain areas (particularly St Paul's), should not be exacerbated by proposals, and should be improved where possible. 
 
Proposals should help improve the health and sense of well-being of residents and visitors, through cutting pollution and accident levels whilst encouraging cycling and walking activities.
 
Proposals should consider the need to provide and protect open spaces and recreation areas within the Borough.
 
Proposed developments should be seen as an opportunity to address the need for high quality, low cost housing available to all.
 
Options developed should take account of the multicultural nature of Cheltenham Town Centre and should provide/maintain space and buildings for cultural activities.
 
All options should recognise the importance of reducing actual crime and fear of crime within their proposals.

 

2.3. Existing and Future Baseline Condition

The Strategic Environmental Assessment Directive requires a significant level of understanding of the baseline environment, as defined in Annex 1 (b), 1 (c) and 1 (d), in order to inform both the appraised plans and future stages of the SEA/SA.
  
Baseline information was taken from the previous SA report but has been updated where possible and appropriate as part of this revised SA.
 
This data was collated into a Baseline Table (Appendix 2) which illustrates:
 
  • Appropriate indicators by which progress against the SA Objectives can be measured;
  • The latest data for the study area;
  • Comparators: regional or national level data against which Cheltenham's status can be compared;
  • Targets where they exist;
  • Trends: local/regional level data for past years (where it exists), along with a short, qualitative statement indicating whether things are getting better or worse over time.
 Gaps in data encountered at this stage are highlighted for consideration in monitoring proposals.

2.4. Summary of Existing Condition

The baseline review starts with a general characterisation of the North Place site and the wider context. It should be noted that not all information is currently available but the data will continue to be refined and updated over time. Additional data has been provided since the previous SA report published in 2008. Full referencing of information can be found within the full SA Baseline Table within the Appendices of this document (section 2).
 
Baseline data was largely obtained from the following sources:
 
  • Numerical or statistical format - largely downloaded from government or agency websites, e.g.,  www.statistics.gov.uk, www. defra.gov.uk
  • Previous SA report

2.5. Area Characterisation

Cheltenham's built environment is highly regarded. The town centre contains many fine examples of Regency architecture and is justly famous for its public squares and gardens. The town contains 7 distinct conservation areas and has over 2600 listed buildings. Cheltenham's objective is to become the most beautiful town in England.
 
The North Place site is located at the northern edge of the town centre, and is approximately 2.1ha in size. This site is primarily bound by Northfield Passage/Northfield Terrace to the north, by Portland Street to the east, by St. Margaret's Road to the south and Monson Avenue to the west.
 
The site is currently in use as a surface public car park, split into two areas by North Place. North Place is a two-way street which forms part of the wider network as well as an access to the two car parks, whilst through traffic runs along Portland Street and St. Margaret's Road. The site is virtually flat, with limited distinguishing features. There is little in terms of vegetation on the site, with a few semi-mature trees located on the periphery of the car park, along St. Margaret's Road and Portland Street.

2.6. Environmental Conditions

Biodiversity
With the site being urban in nature, no designated sites of Biodiversity interest are found here, however Gloucestershire County Council has adopted a Biodiversity Action Plan (2000) which includes a Habitat Action Plan that covers 'Urban Habitats'.
  
Whilst recognising the difficulty in estimating areas within the urban habitat the Habitat Action Plan lists a number of priority species requiring protection within the County. These species include - Stag beetle, Song thrush, buttoned snout moth, pipistrelle bat and great crested newt. The plan anticipates that increasing development demands will impose pressure on native protected species.
  
The BAP identifies pollution in the River Chelt (downstream of Cheltenham), primarily caused by industrial, domestic and agricultural sources, and recognises it as an issue to be addressed immediately.
  
A number of green and open spaces are situated beyond the site but are not well linked. There is an opportunity to link some of these green spaces together through the provision of green spaces as part of the redevelopment of this site.
 
Water Quality and Usage
Although data specific to the site is not available, chemical and biological water quality from the River Chelt will be relevant to the study area in so far as drainage and infiltration from the site into the main watercourse is possible. 
 
Table 2.2 below shows the Chemical and Biological water quality of Cheltenham and the South West Region Rivers.
 
Table 2.2 Surface water quality in Cheltenham and the South West

 

 

%  length of river (km)

Biological Quality

Cheltenham

South West

Quality/Year

2000

2006

2000

2006

Good

12.4

19.7

89

91

Fair

87.6

80.3

9

8

Poor

0

0

0.9

0.5

Bad

0

0

0.1

0.5

Chemical Quality

 

 

 

 

Good

73

73

82

83

Fair

11.9

27

16

14

Poor

15.2

0

2

3

Bad

0

0

0

0

Source: Environment Agency (Totals may not sum due to rounding)
 
It would appear that river quality in the south west region has improved in the six-year period given above. There are some anomalies but it may be attributable to adverse weather conditions in any one year causing excessive flooding and therefore, higher pollution levels. In Cheltenham there has been a slight improvement but mainly from poor to fair. The town lags behind the region but that is most likely due to the urban nature of the area compared with the south west as a whole. The Gloucestershire BAP (2000) raises concerns over water quality levels of the Chelt downstream of Cheltenham, which have been affected by sewage inputs.
 
Groundwater
From the Environment Agency's data on ground water abstraction rates in the South West, a decline in the abstraction rates suggest a positive trend towards protection of the ground water resources. The rates were at 720 ML/Day in 1995 and 726 ML/D in 2000 which has been gradually reducing and reached 565 ML/D in 2003.
  
Cheltenham is situated on the Chelt Sands, a minor aquifer. Parts of the Borough also rest on Jurassic Limestone aquifer which is found to have fissures and cracks in some places. These cracks, especially in the centre of the town can potentially be a path to leachate/ pollutants, particularly on contaminated land (Contaminated land Strategy, 2001).
 
Nitrate concentration in ground water is the listed indicator by the Environment Agency to assess ground water quality as time series data is available. From the Agency's Nitrate Vulnerability Zone (NVZ) map, it is evident that parts of Cheltenham are close to the NVZ.
 
Issues/Trend/Data Gaps:
 
The surface water quality of the River Chelt is declining rapidly and needs serious consideration in order to reverse the trend. Any new development should ensure that it would not add to pressure on the resource and its quality at any point in time. Water conservation and reuse techniques should also be promoted among the public as a good practice.
 
Data on ground water quality and data on local sources of pollution into the River Chelt will aid in identifying the cause and thus address the issue, if any.
 
Soil resources and quality
In an urban area, erosion and land contamination are relevant issues to examine with respect to soil resources, as well as the degree of protection afforded greenfield land from development. The soils in Cheltenham are identified to be of high leaching potential.
 
Contaminated Land
The Contaminated Land Strategy Report[1] identifies a number of sites in the town centre where previous usage might suggest the existence of potential contaminants. Although it is suspected that the central parts of the town could be contaminated, the report suggests that detailed local study will be required to ascertain the location of these areas.
 
As part of the original work carried out by Halcrow for this development brief, its preliminary risk assessment of North place and Portland Street indicated that the site was likely to have been exposed to some level of contamination in the past, related to its previous use as a bus station. However, the sites have been previously developed and therefore subject to some level of remediation and it is believed that the residual risk is low to very low. Nevertheless, redevelopment could create new pathways for contamination and therefore detailed site investigations and, if necessary, remediation, should be undertaken prior to re-development to ensure the sites are fit for the proposed use.
 
Protection of Soil Resources
In order to encourage new developments to utilise already developed sites, and to protect Greenfield sites (soil resources), there is a presumption in favour of new housing development being located on Brownfield sites locally and nationally. The  national target set by PPS3 is for 60% of new housing to be on brownfield land. According to the Residential Land Availability Report (Cheltenham Borough Council, August 2010) in 2009/10 Cheltenham delivered 100% of its 300 new dwellings on Brownfield sites.
 
Climate Change
CO2 emissions per capita in Cheltenham are impressively lower than the national average, however, with no time series data, trends cannot be established. Vehicular sources are believed to be the main non-point sources of CO2 emissions, and in Cheltenham only 5% of the population utilise public transport to travel to work, indicating high dependency on private transport. This trend should be reversed to reduce vehicular emissions.

 

Energy Efficiency
Local Authority (LA) buildings set good practice examples for energy efficiency. From Audit Commission data, the percentage change in CO2 emissions from these buildings show a reduction of 5.36% between 2002-03 and 2003-04. Although time series data is not available for trend analysis, this is an encouraging feature and it is recommended that the LA should encourage energy efficiency in all public buildings as well as in private buildings to reduce contributions towards climate change.
 
The data gathered also shows that both electricity and gas usage has fallen in Cheltenham each year since 2005. Whilst no reason is given for this fall, it is still a positive trend.
 
Ecological Footprint:
An Ecological Footprint is a way of quantifying how a community's lifestyle impacts upon the environment and other people. In the case of Cheltenham, the footprint takes into account the following characteristics:
 
  • emissions generated from oil, coal and gas;
  • amount of land required to absorb waste produced;
  • amount of productive land and sea needed to feed a community;
  • amount of productive land and sea needed to feed and provide all the energy, water and materials that the people of Cheltenham use in their everyday lives.
The Stockholm Environmental Institute calculates the Ecological Footprint of Cheltenham to be at 5.39 global ha per capita, which is more than twice the world's average of 2.2 global ha per capita; whereas the budget for sustainable living, which is derived by dividing the available biologically productive area by current population, is only 1.8 ha per capita.
 
Processed food consumption, procurement of food outside local resources and increased use of domestic fuel including gas, electricity and other fuels, are identified to be the major cause for the large footprint. Although data for the study area is unavailable it is presumed that the area average would be comparable to that for the whole urban area and that there is a need to encourage consumption of locally available resources, promote recycling and reuse and bring about a change in the attitudes of people towards maximising the utility of resources.
 
Issues/Trends/Data gaps:
 
With more than twice the consumption of natural resources than the world average, Cheltenham and the study area pose pressure to natural resources elsewhere in the world and there is a need to reverse this trend by prioritising use of local resources and encouraging reuse and recycling.
 
Flood Risk
Cheltenham has over 4000 properties at risk from flooding and many existing urban drainage systems cause further problems of flooding, pollution or damage to the environment.  As the climate changes serious flooding is likely to become a more frequent event and the current 1 in 100 yr flood risk will occur more often.  Information is not available from the Environment Agency regarding surface water runoff and groundwater flooding but recent experience shows that existing drainage systems and flood attenuation schemes will not be able to cope.
 
Current mapping of areas at risk of flooding is based on Strategic Flood Risk Assessment (SFRA) level 1 which indicates that North Place lies within Zone 1 of the Environment Agency's flood risk zones, the lowest risk category. However, this only provides a rudimentary assessment of fluvial flood risk. An SFRA level 2 assessment is currently being carried out but the report is not due until the autumn of 2010.  The outcomes of SFRA level 2 will be fed into any future pre application discussions arising in respect of the development brief area.
 
Issues/Trends/Data gaps:
 
The level 2 Strategic Flood Risk Assessment (SFRA) will provide further detail of flood risk and mitigation and assist in the determination of specific requirements for a site specific Flood Risk Assessment (FRA). Promotion of SUDS to address increased run off would help to mitigate some of the effects of climate change.
 
Traffic and Transport  
The Cheltenham Spa Urban Design Strategy, 2001, contains an analysis of the scale and quality of the Regency streets in the town and calls for new development to respect this quality. The transport and traffic situation in the six prominent approach roads i.e., Gloucester Road, Shurdington Road, Tewkesbury Road, London Road, Evesham Road, Cirencester Road and Station Approach are examined. The first three roads were included in the Three Approach studies, 2001 and the rest included in the UDF Approach Studies Report, 2006. Prominent issues identified by both the studies include; gateway features and landmarks improvements, provision of traffic control, aesthetics, functionality of the routes, inclusion and provisions for pedestrians and cyclists and cluttered signage. The Civic Pride Report[2] identifies poor approaches to Regency Cheltenham, on street parking clutter and poor lighting in some areas.
 
The UDF Draft Baseline Report (2006) identifies opportunities for better connectivity to the town centre for cyclists and pedestrians. North Place is well served by public transport and has good pedestrian access routes; however public transport stops have a skewed location on the southern side of the ring road and therefore the site appears segregated. Facilities for pedestrians and cyclists are mixed.
 
The North Place car park and Portland Street car park jointly have a capacity of 813 spaces, which currently are conveniently located for traffic to arrive; however it is considered that an increasing concentration of these car parks to the north of the Town Centre will eventually add to the existing traffic problem on this section of the ring road.
 
The Cheltenham Urban Design Framework Baseline Report (July, 2006), reveals that during the preparation of the Cheltenham Transport Plan 2000/1 to 2005/6, the Borough recorded the highest level of cycling accidents of all districts in England, which was partly due to the high levels of usage (7% cycling to work).
 
Cheltenham is served by the National Cycle Network which runs through the town centre, and this is supplemented by the Cheltenham Cycle Network, however cycle lane provision within the town centre is not particularly extensive. Despite this, walking and cycling became more popular for people who both lived and worked in the district, rising from 33% to 36% (1991/2001 Census).
 
A higher percentage of work journeys within Cheltenham were made by driving a car in 2001 compared to 1991. Accompanying this trend is a decline in the use of public transport over the same period (from 7% to 6% of trips to work for those living and working in Cheltenham). The exceptions to this rule are the Cheltenham residents travelling out of the county to work (4% to 9%) (1991/2001 Census).
 
This decline in public transport use within Cheltenham comes despite 67% of the population benefiting from a level of proximity to a service of at least a 15 minute frequency, to 93% of the population to a service of at least a 30 minute frequency (Cheltenham Urban Design Framework Baseline Report, 2006).
 
Issues/Trends/Data gaps:
 
Traffic in and around the site is congested which cause traffic to divert to other routes which affect the wider town centre area. The large number of parking spaces in the north of the town is likely to contribute to added traffic and congestion in the area in the future.
 
Trends between 1991 and 2001 show increasing private car usage and a general decline in public transport usage. However, the already high rate of cycling to work within Cheltenham (33%) rose to 36% (Office for National Statistics, 2001). 
 
Air Quality
 
The Environment Act 1995 places a statutory duty on local authorities to review air quality in their areas to assess whether the air quality standards and objectives of the National Air Quality Strategy (NAQS) are likely to be achieved by a series of set dates.
 
At the town level the ambient air quality exceeded limits for 2004, especially NOx and PM10 concentrations, whereas around the site, the average concentration of SOx and PM10 are within limits and NOx concentration slightly exceeded EU limits. However, whilst there was an apparent increase in limits between 2004 and 2007 for a number of these emissions, they have generally fallen back in 2008 except for the PM10 emissions. Notwithstanding this, only one Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) exists in Cheltenham. This was designated in December 2008 for lower Bath Road/High Street but is some way from North Place. However from a sustainability perspective it is important to ensure that the existing condition is maintained and/or enhanced.

 

Table 2.3 Pollution emission intensity in the UDF area (extract from previous SA report)

Table 2.3

Source: Office for National Statistics
 
Mean level of SO2= 7.3 t/km2
 
Mean level of NOx = 30.9 t/km2
 
Mean level of PM10= 2.6 t/km2
 
Vehicle sources contribute to air pollution substantially, particularly in urban areas. Traffic congestion has been observed around the site and is noticeably high on St.Margaret's Road abutting North Place.
 
About 61% of the population in Cheltenham travel to work in a private car and car ownership levels are high. There is a need to integrate sustainable transport policies with all relevant policy sectors to achieve sustainability objectives.
 
Townscape and Cultural Heritage
The North Place site lies within the Central Conservation Area and there are a number of important historic and Listed Buildings nearby. The majority of the buildings in Clarence Square and Northfield Terrace are grade II listed and St. Margaret's Terrace is a 4 storey grade II* listed regency terrace on the southern edge of the site. On the corner of Portland Street and St. Margaret's Road lies the grade II listed Portland Chapel, now in use as a health spa and restaurant.
 
Other notable buildings in the immediate vicinity of the site are the Brewery retail and leisure complex in the south east and Holy Trinity Church across Portland Street to the west, which has a landmark tower. There are also Listed Buildings on Portland Street, opposite the site. Clarence House, a grade II listed 3 storey regency building with a modern apartment complex attached at the rear, backs onto the site on the northern boundary.
 
Issues/ Trends/Data gaps:
 
There is a need for any development to respect and enhance the context and historic setting of the town. All new building will need to be of a high quality and contextually sympathetic, without being a pastiche.
Listed buildings have management issues, particularly in terms of ensuring they are resilient to climate change and remain habitable environments.
 
Cheltenham suffers from saturated light pollution, which can be an issue for local residents and interest groups as well as adding to energy use and carbon emissions.
 
Waste Minimisation and Material Assets
This section deals with waste at the Borough level due to the non availability of data at the ward level. The National Indicators (NI) for Cheltenham indicate the positive movement of the Borough towards recycling and composting. Development within the town centre must ensure that it contributes to increasing this trend. Only 56% (NI, Office of National Statistics, 2001) of the residents in Cheltenham however are satisfied with street cleanliness.
  
A considerable shift from non-renewable to renewable energy usage is recorded in public office buildings within Cheltenham; an encouraging trend which should be promoted in all public buildings.

2.7. Social Conditions

 
Population and health
Cheltenham is a medium sized market town with an estimated population of 116,370 (2010 Population Estimate, Gloucestershire County Council). The population age profile of Cheltenham is such that 16.2% of the population is 65 or older. This compares with 17.6% for the county; probably reflecting the urban nature of the authority. However, the latest population projections from the County Council (2010) indicate that this percentage figure is going to grow to 23.4% of the population of Cheltenham by 2033.
   
The general health of the population within the study area is good when compared to the South West and the rest of England. 71.22% of the population within the study area assess themselves to be in good health as compared to only 68.86% in the South West and 68.55% in the rest of England (Office of National Statistics, 2001). Mortality rates due to cancer and circulatory diseases in Cheltenham have reduced by about 15% between 2002-03 and 2004-05 (Cheltenham LDF SA Scoping Report, 2006) and are both better than the national averages.
 
Green Space
The Study Area has a relatively high percentage (13.4%) of green spaces (includes non-accessible spaces), which is a typical feature of the Regency era. Cheltenham's green spaces are an integral part of the streetscape and architecture, and are recognised as a key element of the public realm in the town.
 
As part of the original development brief work, the Halcrow Team undertook an assessment on the green space in the study area to understand the availability, utility and general condition of the green spaces. This was undertaken in parallel with the initial work on the emerging green space strategy being prepared by Cheltenham Borough Council. The Green Space Strategy has since been published (July 2009). A regular sequence of green spaces exists in a north-south direction starting from Pitville Park in the north, and continuing via; Pitville Lawns and the Squares, St.Mary's churchyard, the Promenade, Imperial and Montpellier Gardens, and Suffolk Square. The east-west sequence of provision follows the line of the River Chelt, with Sandford Park forming a key part.
 
Issues/Trends/Data Gaps:
 
There are opportunities to appreciate and enhance green spaces. However, these need to be accompanied by steps to improve management and safety.
 
Access to Services and Employment
North Place is well connected to public transport services, however, the existing pedestrian and cyclist routes in the locality are not clearly defined, whilst the large amount of car parking space and car traffic along the inner ring road conflict with the cyclist and pedestrian traffic and create an unattractive environment for sustainable transport users.
 
Crime and anti-social activity 
NI indicators and records of crime from Gloucestershire Police indicate a reduction in all types of crime (e.g., domestic, burglaries, violent offences, vehicle crime) between 2002-03 and 2005-06. There are also small pockets within the town centre with reported incidents of vandalism (e.g. St. Mary's Churchyard), although these incidences are low.
 
The 'Your Vision -Cheltenham 2020' consultation indicates people attribute high priority to crime reduction. This fear can be attributed to the negative impacts of the night time economy of Cheltenham.
 
Access to affordable housing
The number of affordable homes is decreasing, largely due to the right to buy. There has been a drop of nearly 800 units between 2001 and 2005, with a smaller loss of a further 8 dwellings by 2008/09. House prices have risen dramatically coupled with a low rise of annual income, creating issues of affordability for first time buyers. Property prices doubled in the space of five years (2000-6) with the average house price to average income ratio rising from 4.88 in 2000 to a peak of 7.5 in 2005. This has since fallen to 6.04 in 2009 due to the impact of the recession but has started to increase from the lows in between (statistics from CLG). This also causes increased levels of in-commuting from areas with lower house prices which brings with it the associated problems of traffic congestion and its impact on climate change. It may also have consequences for the local economy as businesses may find it increasingly difficult to recruit staff.
 
Education and Skills
The percentage of 16-19 year olds with NVQ4+ qualification is higher in Cheltenham than the South West and the rest of the country.  Children with no qualifications in this age group are also significantly lower in Cheltenham (12.28%) than the rest of the region (17.07%) and the country (19.8%). A higher percentage of the population within the UDF area hold a NVQ4+ qualification than in Cheltenham or the rest of the region / country. The percentage of 15 year-olds achieving five or more GCSEs grade A-C continues to increase in line with the national trend but continues to far exceed the national average; in 2008-09 61.5% of pupils in Cheltenham achieved this up from 59.7 in 2007-08. This compares with 48.4% and 50.9% respectively (http://neighbourhood.statistics.gov.uk).
 
The skills base has been improving steadily but this needs to be maintained.
 
Poverty, Social Exclusion and Deprivation
Cheltenham is a relatively affluent town. However, as with many other towns and cities, general levels of affluence and prosperity can mask pockets of persistent deprivation. According to the 2004 Indices of Multiple Deprivation (IMD), Cheltenham has one Super Output Area (SOA) which is ranked in the 10% most deprived in the country (St. Paul's Ward - in which part of the site is located with the remainder of the ward laying to the north and west of the site ranks 2138 out of 32482).
 
About 23.2% of the population feel discriminated against due to their ethnic or religious background, indicating an issue with social exclusion (Audit Commission, 2003-4).
 
Community Identity and Participation
Individuals' willingness to be involved in their community can make a significant difference to the level of community cohesion. Town level data indicates 92% of the population are satisfied with their local area as a place to live (Cheltenham LDF SA Scoping Report (Appendix 2), 2006). This fell to 84.5% in 2008-09 but is still nearly 5% higher than the national average. However, the level of participation in local community activities from residents is considerably low, at 22%. Electoral turnout has also fallen from 39.13% in 2004 to 35% in 2008-09.
 
Although there is no available data specific to the site, it is considered that the town level data is broadly representative of the site.
 
Cultural Facilities
Cheltenham has a regional role as a centre for the arts and culture and a vibrant and stimulating cultural life. Continuing investment will be required to ensure this is maintained.

2.8. Economic Conditions

Economic Activity, Employment, Growth and Prosperity
Cheltenham's economy experienced significant growth throughout the 1990s and early 2000s and remains one of the key drivers in the regional economy. The town is a major sub-regional employment centre, with more than 62,000 jobs recorded in 2004 (NOMIS). Unemployment has risen locally just as it has nationally since the onset of the recession. However, Cheltenham has improved relative to the national position both in terms of the amount of people unemployed and those claiming Job Seekers Allowance. The increase in both statistics has been far more marked nationally.
 
Table 2.4 Economic data for study area and comparator data
 

Table 2.4

Source: Office for National Statistics

 

Employment trends over the period 1998-2004 (Annual Business Inquiry) indicate declining dependence on traditional construction and manufacturing industries and significant growth in the distribution / hospitality and public administration / education and health sectors. Overall the number of jobs in all sectors increased by 8% in the period 1998-2004. The same trend is confirmed by the Cheltenham Employment Land Review July 2007 (Nathaniel Lichfield & Partners).
 
The economy of Cheltenham has witnessed a shift from the manufacturing sector to the services sector, and the Council encourages and supports investment to further growth in the services sector. However, data indicates a decline in low skilled employment.
 
Small and medium size enterprises are the lifeblood of an areas economy and are indicative of its dynamism and entrepreneurial spirit. Some 96% of Cheltenham businesses employ fewer than 50 people and 67% employ less than 4. These firms are important to Cheltenham and the wider sub-region, in supporting the local labour market, generating wealth and economic activity and improving external perceptions of Cheltenham as a place to do business.
 
Indigenous and Inward Investment
Cheltenham is a key settlement within the county and region and acts as a centre for tourism and retailing in these areas. Cheltenham has consistently been ranked higher in the national retail hierarchy than its population would suggest despite falling in the latest rankings. Cheltenham's festivals make a significant contribution to annual business turnover and have wider positive impacts, enhancing the image of Cheltenham and helping to attract and retain new investment and employment 
 
The UDF Draft Baseline Report (2006) identifies the need to strengthen Cheltenham's unique retail centre, creating a total quality approach which includes culture, heritage and leisure. Key issues include:
  • The need for improved access
  • A need to identify initiatives which correspond to and strengthen the    environmental and social characteristics and aspirations of the town, such as the farmer's market, which is held twice a month and has proven very popular.
  • Cheltenham is a well established leisure and entertainment centre offering a wide selection of cultural and sporting facilities as well as eating and drinking venues which are popular with local residents and visitors. The town is also known for its night time economy, the negative impacts of which are associated with the occurrence of a few crime incidents.
Issues/Trends/data gaps:
 
Cheltenham's role as a destination for retail should be encouraged but could lead to unsustainable traffic patterns if public transport is not improved in parallel.
 
Issues relating to inward investment are similar for both the development brief site and the town. Cheltenham's status as a tourist attraction does not generate the level of tourism related employment that might be expected. There is a lack of hotel accommodation, both quantity and quality which has been confirmed and addressed, in part, by the JCS Hotel Capacity Study (2009). The town's tourism offer should be maximised to benefit the local economy and translate into more jobs for Cheltenham's residents.

 

 

2.9. Environmental Issues and Opportunities

By looking at the outputs of the review of plans and programmes, and the baseline data collation exercise, it is possible to identify particular sustainability issues affecting the site. Opportunities for environmental/social/economic enhancements arise from the identification of these sustainability issues. These also help to refine the SA Objectives, Criteria and Indicators.
 
This is one area of the SA where the consideration of cumulative effects and inter-relationships between effects can be incorporated. In Table 2.5 below, for each SA topic impacted upon by a sustainability issue, a short qualitative explanation follows, detailing the secondary, indirect or cumulative nature of the impact.
 
Table 2.5 also identifies opportunities for environmental, social and economic enhancement highlighted by the early stages of the SA process.
 

Table 2.5 - Sustainability Issues and Opportunities Identified by SA Topic for North Place

SA/SEA Topics Affected

Sustainability Issue

Opportunity for Enhancement

Environmental Issues

 

 

Biodiversity

The North Place site is a large area of hardstanding with negligible biodiversity value at present.

Enhancement of biodiversity through development design e.g., green roofs, creation of green grid providing a link to the wider green network beyond the boundaries of the site.

Water Quality

Hardstanding on the site could potentially contribute to surface water flooding increasing the possibility of the sewage and drainage systems over-filling.

Decrease quantity and increase quality of urban runoff from the site, e.g. SUDS and Vegetative Treatment Systems.

Soil

North Place is a brownfield site

Increased use of brownfield sites avoids the need to develop greenfield sites

Climate Change

Hardstanding on the site could potentially contribute to surface water flooding

Incorporation of SUDS into new developments

Require Flood Risk Assessments as part of detailed development proposals

Tree planting assists the minimisation of the urban heat island effect

Promote sustainable design and construction and use of renewable energy

Adoption of maximum parking standards for new developments and consideration of car free developments.

Air Quality

Traffic congestion around the site and particularly St Margaret's Road.

Tree planting to offset air quality impacts and Carbon Dioxide emissions.

Retention of existing trees.

 

Townscape

Congestion on St Margaret's Road

Creation of gateway into town centre and public square.

Current under-utilisation of Brownfield sites within Cheltenham Borough.

Use of Brownfield sites.

Cheltenham is a Regency Town of high value townscape. Impact on listed buildings on site periphery.

Protection and enhancement of historic environment

Promote high quality urban design and architecture

 

Incorporate public art within the site where possible.

Residential amenity to areas north of the site i.e. whatever development occurs should not visually intrude upon the residential areas adjacent

Development designed taking into account neighbouring uses.

 

 

Noise and Vibration

High traffic in and around the site

Traffic management and traffic calming

Improving pedestrian and cycle links to the Town Centre.

Cultural Heritage

Cheltenham has the finest collection of Regency buildings in the UK.

Enhancement and encouragement of contemporary design on the site. but based on Regency design principles

Cheltenham has the largest Conservation Area in the UK.

Material Assets and Resource Usage

Increasing consumption of finite and depleting resources

Opportunities for encouraging recycling and increasing access to recycling facilities should be built into the design of the site.

Encourage sustainable design and construction

Waste minimisation and recycling

Social Issues

 

 

Population

Social and economic disparities and pockets of relative deprivation

New development on the site should contribute towards opportunities for regeneration including creating new areas of employment and skills together with delivering affordable housing

Human Health

Perceived high levels of crime

Create mixed use environment and promote a managed evening economy.

Re-invention of 'promenading' for the 20th Century.

Increase accessibility through the site to open up areas

and increase permeability of Cheltenham Town Centre.

Economic Issues

 

 

 

Housing affordability

Opportunity to provide affordable housing on site.

Lack of modern office accommodation in town centre (results in out of town development).

Provision of modern office accommodation on the site.

Skills gaps

Public realm improvements on the site could help attract investment to Cheltenham Town Centre.

Lack of hotel accommodation (both quantity and quality).

Redevelopment of the site offers an opportunity for introducing quality hotel accommodation.



Powered by INOVEM Consult™ - Online Consultation Software