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Technical Appendix: North Place and Portland Street Development Brief

2. Introduction

2.1. This Development Brief forms part of the Cheltenham Civic Pride Urban Design Framework (UDF) prepared for the South West Regional Development Agency (SWRDA), Cheltenham Borough Council (CBC) and Gloucestershire County Council (GCC). These three bodies are now partners in the Cheltenham Development Task Force, along with the Homes and Communities Agency.

2.2. Once approved, this development brief will form a Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) within Cheltenham's Local Development framework (LDF) and will be a material consideration when the Borough Council in its role as Local Planning Authority determines any planning applications for the site.

2.3. Cheltenham is a thriving town set at the foot of the Cotswold scarp. It grew significantly in the late 18th /early 19th centuries when it was a popular spa resort. It was developed as a number of set-piece estates to a masterplan. This left an extensive legacy of Regency buildings and formal gardens. However, the streets in its core are frequently dominated by vehicular traffic and the traffic management paraphernalia which accompanies it. Pedestrian access to, and in some cases within, the town centre is often difficult, with many routes being cut by the town's two ring roads. In addition a number of prominent sites are underused and have a negative impact on the quality of the street scene.

2.4. The principal aim of the Civic Pride project is to build on the regency heritage of the town by revitalising the street scene, including the buildings, streets and spaces in order to bolster the town's economy.

2.5. The UDF process has analysed transport, economic, environmental and land-use issues affecting the town in order to create strategies to achieve this aim. Part of the project focuses specifically on the redevelopment of council owned sites to be promoted as exemplars of sustainable development. North Place and Portland Street car parks form one of these sites.

2.6. The key Civic Pride documents set out below, establish the context for this Development Brief. Together with this brief and its companion for the Royal Well site they make up the UDF and development on this site must comply with their various proposals.

 

2.7.

  Masterplan Report       Halcrow Group Ltd   September 2007
  Public Realm Strategy    Halcrow Group Ltd   March/December 2007   
  Transport Strategy    Colin Buchanan   April 2007
  Phase 2 Scenario Testing    Halcrow Group Ltd, Nisbet LLP and King Sturge    December 2006
  Urban Design Strategy    Halcrow Group Ltd     October 2006
  Baseline Report    Halcrow Group Ltd     October 2006
 

 

 

 

2.8. The following key factors have impacted upon potential future uses:

a. An independent market re-appraisal by specialist property advisers which questions whether the Brief, as adopted in 2008 is deliverable in the current market conditions
b. The decreasing likelihood of the creation of a new build Civic Hub in the austere economic climate that we now find ourselves
c. Further site analysis including ground investigation work because of localised contamination resulting from the site's use as a coach station raises challenges for the medium density housing.
d. The opportunity for speculative office build is perceived as limited, however the Borough Council does not wish to rule it out if it is deliverable.  Furthermore, Joint Core Strategy's emerging Employment Land Review recognises the value to economic investment of area-specific regeneration which improves the quality of the environment.

 

2.9. Following recent detailed transport modelling work there has been an examination of opportunities to relocate Royal Well bus bays, currently serving the national coaches and rural services to the town. These bays, when relocated, will cater for services with a stopping time of no longer than 20 minutes. It is proposed that these bays are located at the southern end of the North Place/Portland St site, and will be in addition to the stops located along the proposed "bus spine" which will cater for the urban services.

2.10. The need to reappraise the development brief for this site is not unique and there is evidence that several sites across the Borough are being reconsidered as a result of the challenging financial circumstances being faced by landowners and developers alike.

2.11. This Development Brief sets out the Council's planning requirements for development of the site in order to secure high quality, sustainable, mixed-use development that will also preserve and enhance the special character of Cheltenham. The Brief aims to provide flexibility to enable developers to bring forward innovative design proposals for the site, once the basic design and sustainability parameters have been met.

2.12. The Council wants development on the site to satisfactorily resolve issues of design, layout, use, access, car parking and street scene. Proposals will be in accordance with the policies of the existing Local Plan together with national planning policy guidance (see Appendix). It will provide mixed use development which:

a. Is an exemplar of sustainable development and design quality in both building form and street scene
b. Creates a vibrant mixed-use hub acting as a catalyst for regeneration north of the High Street
c. Encourages the use of sustainable transport modes
d. Addresses pedestrian severance on St Margaret's Road between the site the town centre and the Brewery development
e. Maintains about 300 town centre public car parking spaces to support the retail attraction of the town centre
f. Creates town centre streets and spaces which are pleasant, safe and vibrant with their own sense of place
g. Creates a series of high quality public spaces which
     i. enhances the setting of Holy Trinity Church
    ii. link the towns two historic promenades (The Promenade and Pittville Park)
    iii. address the pedestrian severance between St Margart's Road and the Brewery by delivering clear pedestrian connections
    iv. Mark significant focal points within the site


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