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North Place and Portland Street Sustainability Appraisal

4. Consultation

4.1. Introduction

In order to comply with the SEA Regulations, Part 3 Section 13, the Scoping Report was circulated to the statutory consultees (English Heritage, Environment Agency and Natural England) for comment. Following this consultation, the comments were received and recorded. Abridged versions of the comments and corresponding responses are produced below (these comments reflect the position at the time of the original SA report for the whole of the Civic Pride SPD). Appropriate sections of the SA Report, including the SA Framework were refined based on these comments, and based on further understanding of site issues.
Table EA
Table EA2

 

Following the proposals to revise the Development Brief, the statutory consultees were consulted on whether a new scoping report was required. It was agreed that a new scoping report would 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.

4.2. Testing the Objectives

The project brief establishes a set of five over-arching objectives for the project and eleven sub-objectives, which are detailed below:
 
Environment
 
1.  To provide a context for decisions on urban design, planning, transportation, street scene and maintenance issues which will produce a high quality and imaginative public realm.
 
2.  To establish a reputation in the town for environmental excellence and provide a context for the implementation of public art, cultural and heritage projects.
 
3.  To conserve energy and reduce Carbon Dioxide production to the minimum.
 
Economy
 
4.  To stimulate economic development within the town centre and contribute to regional competitiveness.
 
5.  To link economic growth and town centre regeneration with skills retention and development.
 
6.  To enhance the town's reputation as a national centre of culture and encourage investment in the leisure, tourism, and retail sectors.
 
Transport
 
7.  To set the context for reducing traffic impact, improving accessibility for walkers, cyclists, disabled people, public transport users, businesses and their service requirements.
 
8.  To provide a context for the provision of accessible and safe off-street public car parking and for integrating local, regional and national bus and coach nodes.
 
Sustainability
 
9.  To deliver a safe, innovative, leading edge or 'beacon' sustainable solution to provide benefits for people living, visiting and working in the town.
 
10. Set high standards of sustainable construction.
 
Property Management
11. To provide a context for decisions on the management of the site within on the context of the Council's property portfolio.
 
Table 4.1 summarises the results of a compatibility assessment of the above projects sub-objectives with the SA Objectives. There are no outright areas of conflict between the two sets of objectives although there are a number of areas of uncertainty. Most areas of uncertainty are derived from assessing the 'economic' project sub-objectives against the 'environmental' SA Objectives. Reasons for uncertainty are described in each case. However, it is perceived that when taken in conjunction with the 'environmental' and particularly the 'sustainability' project sub-objectives, these uncertainties are minimised and that no incompatibilities should occur during project implementation.
 
In most cases the objectives are either complementary, or have no relationship to each other.  Some of the SA Objectives complement a large number of the project sub-objectives, particularly those relating to townscape, cultural heritage, sustainable economic growth, healthy lifestyles, access to amenities and building on previously developed land.
 
Project sub-objective 8 (to provide off-street car parking) does have potential significant conflicts with a number of SA Objectives if it leads to increased car usage. However, as long as sub-objectives and 7 and 9 are taken into account, then any provision of car parking should not actually increase private car usage in Cheltenham. New parking spaces could be managed and reserved for those who must use the parking out of necessity or for those willing to pay a premium (funds from which can then be ring-fenced for improving public transport services).
 
Project sub-objective 11 is not in a form that allows it to be assessed against the SA Objectives; hence all scoring is left as 'no direct relationship'.
Table 4.1  Comparison between the Revised Plan Objectives and SA Objectives
 
Scoring System
Scoring system

 

Table to A3table to A5

table to A7Table to A9

table to A14

Table to A17

4.3. Developing and Appraising Development Brief Options

Evolution of Options
The previous development brief for North Place followed consultation with stakeholders and through an iterative process a set of initial options were produced for the site. These options were articulated in the Civic Pride Phase 3 Emerging Site Development Options report produced in May 2007.
 
Further refinements were made to the options at North Place based on stakeholder and public consultations and a set of options were produced in the Cheltenham Civic Pride Phase 3 Master Plan Report, September 2007. Consultations on these options led to refinement and preparation of a preferred option for the site as described in the development brief. 
 
Following the economic slump and other factors as set out earlier, Cheltenham Development Taskforce has questioned the prospect of the development brief being delivered in its current format. Therefore, it has been deemed necessary to look to revise the development brief. Given the previous options looked at are also no longer viable, the council has created a revised brief that shall become the preferred option from the SA appraisal perspective. Given the above, there are only two realistic options this time around and these are;
 
Option 1: Implement the new development brief for a mixed use development with bus node

 

Option 2: 'Do Nothing' scenarioa (Adopted Development Brief - Relocation of the Municipal Offices)
 
The paragraphs below provide a summary of the two options.
 
Option 1: Implement the new development brief for a mixed use development with bus node
 
This option would be very similar to the adopted option in terms of the mix of land uses. The main difference is that there would not be a civic building as the council is currently not in a position to relocate to purpose built premises. Furthermore, there would be the inclusion of a 6-bay bus-node for local and national buses. A number of other things remain similar such as; there being a variety of uses including residential, employment, car parking and a high quality public realm which is usable both in terms of providing amenity and access within and beyond the site, providing excellent linkages to the brewery, town centre and Pitville, for instance. Within the site an element of the ground floor use could be given over to retail units to ensure that the street level is animated. The proposals would also feature a number of sustainable features such as renewable energy systems and green walls and roofs adding interest and biodiversity to the urban landscape.
 
Option 2: Relocation of the Municipal Offices
 
This option which was the original and adopted option assumes that the Municipal Offices will be relocated to a new purpose built facility at North Place. Under this option, the new civic building is located to the north of the proposed new square, with frontage onto Portland Street, the square and North Place. There would be no bus-node as part of this proposal.
 
Appraisal of Options:
 
These options are evaluated against the SA/SEA Framework objectives set out in the Scoping Report and scored against a seven point scale listed below.
Page 69 table
It should be noted that the scoring was based on available information in respect to each of the options and on the SEA/SA team's judgment, substantiated by quantitative data where possible.
 
Sustainability Matrices
This section summarises key messages from the options appraisal process. In accordance with the SEA Directive 2004 and SA Guidance, the new option is tested along with a 'do-nothing' scenario (which is option 2 here) to provide a comparator and aid in judgement. The detailed appraisal of the options is set out in Table 4.2.
 
Both options share a number of key sustainability features
 
  • They require sustainable design and construction
  • They require appropriate flood defence and water management measures
  • They promote mixed uses and high standard of design which respects and enhances local character and distinctiveness
  • They promote traffic calming and traffic management and encourage a shift to walking, cycling and public transport usage
     
Both options provide similar amounts of new floorspace which is likely to attract inward investment and create new jobs and employment. The main differences emerge in terms of the mix of land uses proposed.
 
Table 4.2.1
Table 4.2.2
Table 4.2.3
Table 4.2.4
Table 4.2.5

North Place
Both options retain broadly the same features in terms of physical layout, including the creation of a diagonal link between North Place Road and the Brewery and a new civic square opposite Trinity Church, which would link the towns two historic Promenades (The Promenade and Pittville Park). They also offer a good mix of land-use which will contribute to the vitality and vibrancy of North Place and act as a catalyst for regeneration north of the High Street. In both options the entire redevelopment is on previously developed land.
 
The options therefore perform similarly in terms of the Sustainability Appraisal. The main variations relate to slight differences in land use mix; Option 1 does not contain a proposed civic building but contains a bus node with the potential for further enhancing the site's sustainability. Option 1 has a lower affordable housing requirement however, 40% is in line with policy requirements and can still deliver a well balanced community. Differences tend to be relatively minor and the positives and negatives of one option are offset by those of the alternate option.

4.4. Predicting the effects of the draft Development Brief

The revised draft Development Brief options were tested against the SA Framework. It was evaluated for compliance with sustainability objectives, and the predicted impacts and assumptions used in the appraisal process are explained in the commentary column. The detailed appraisal matrices are contained in Table 4.3. The SEA Directive includes a requirement to examine the duration (short/medium/long), frequency, cumulative and synergistic effects of the predicted impacts. The performance of the preferred option (revised draft Development Brief) against the SA objectives was scored using the following seven point scale:
 
table Page 75
 
table 4.3.1
table 4.3.2
table 4.3.3
table 4.3.4
table 4.3.5
table 4.3.6
table 4.3.7

 

This section provides a summary of key issues identified in the appraisal framework.
 
North Place
The revised draft Development Brief would convert the uninteresting landscape of a car park into a vibrant space with a varied mixture of commercial and residential units, and act as a catalyst for regeneration north of the High Street.
 
The regeneration of the area should provide a stimulus to other retail and service functions in the vicinity.
 
The new square near Portland Street will comprise a major new civic space civic and focus for activity hub. This will help to stimulate inward investment and to promote civic pride and participation.
 
The public realm improvements and urban design qualities of the new development will make a significant contribution to the enhancement of townscape character and the conservation of cultural heritage. This will have a positive synergistic effect on economic and social objectives by helping to attract inward investment and encourage community interaction.
 
The Development Brief includes a significant element of new housing provision, including an element of affordable housing, which will support housing and social objectives.
 
All of the redevelopment is proposed on previously developed land, which supports a wide range of sustainability objectives.
 
The Development Brief will significantly improve the attractiveness of walking and cycling and enhance accessibility across the town centre. The additional inclusion of the bus node under the revised option could help to achieve a modal shift in transportation if planned carefully and successfully. This will result in positive synergistic effects between transport, health and air quality objectives
 
However the inclusion of significant amounts of office/commercial and residential floorspace will potentially increase travel demands and it is recommended that a green travel plan should be produced at site development stage to encourage sustainable transport initiatives, such as car sharing and car pooling, and to minimise parking provision.
 
Overall the Development Brief is considered to have a positive effect on sustainability objectives with no negative effects. It is recognised that increased economic activity could lead to traffic growth and car emissions with negative cumulative impacts on human health. The proposed bus-node can help to tackle this. However, strategic transport measures will be required across the town centre as a whole to de-couple economic and transport growth and to promote sustainable transport choices.


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