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Technical Appendix: North Place and Portland Street Development Brief

4. Development Principles

4.1. This section details the land use and design requirements for the development of the North Place and Portland Street sites. They emerge not only from the analysis of the sites, but from the principles established in the other parts of the Civic Pride Urban Design Framework. As such this section needs to be read in conjunction with the Civic Pride Urban Design Strategy, Transport Strategy and Public Realm Strategy. Plan 4 illustrates the broad principles.

Land Use
 

4.2. The site is suitable for a range of mixed town centre and edge of centre uses which will help to secure the sustainability of the wider site. This Brief does not specify the full range of acceptable uses; it will be for the developer to justify proposed uses in terms of an ability to deliver the various objectives of the Brief and the wider Civic Pride documentation. However, the following are the explicit requirements of the Council:

a. Residential units - with 40% affordable housing (see policy HS4 of the Local Plan)
b. Commercial development that enhances the economic offer of the town centre particularly where it provides significant job creation and training opportunities, local supply chains, a reduction in travel miles for goods and/or the potential to secure organisations with a demonstrable commitment to corporate social and environmental responsibility
c. Six bay bus node with facilities for local and national services with ancillary services including toilets, refreshments and, possibly ticket and management space. There is not likely to be a long-stay lay-over requirement for coaches
d. About 300 public car parking spaces - potentially underground
e. New landscaped public squares and spaces
Design Principles
 

4.3. The site will require sensitive planning and design. Set out below are a series of headline design principles which are detailed in turn in the boxes which follow.

A. "Beacon" sustainability solutions are a key Civic Pride objective and public ownership of this site presents a unique opportunity to secure exemplar standards of sustainability.
B. The site requires the creation of a coherent and cohesive block structure, street hierarchy and design philosophy.
C. High quality design is essential. Proposals will respond positively to the site's historic context, avoiding pastiche and delivering a style which is clearly "of its time". They will establish a sense of place. Sustainable movement links and important views through and beyond the site will integrate with the rest of the town. Design processes will contribute positively to placemaking and the creation of an attractive and distinct place.
D. Sustainable movement choices will be maximised including the integration of enhanced pedestrian linkages between the town centre, the site itself and other parts of the town to the north
E. The site will deliver a series of vibrant streets and spaces bounded by active building frontages in order to ensure an interesting and safe public realm. They will enhance the setting of Holy Trinity Church; link the towns two historic promenades (The Promenade and Pittville Park); link the site and the Brewery development; and mark significant focal points within the site.
Design Principle A - Sustainability
 
a. Development will incorporate a range of sustainable design and construction techniques, for example;
    i. passive solar design
    ii. heat exchange and natural ventilation systems
   iii. utilisation of high thermal mass construction techniques
   iv. high standards of insulation
    v. low-carbon or renewable energy systems
   vi. measures to reduce water consumption and promote water re-use
b. Roof gardens and green walls will announce the area's sustainability credentials and may become a public viewing gallery, with views across the town, and to Cleeve Hill. Green walls will soften any blank or inactive elevations (such as a decked car park, or end wall).
c. Any development should be designed to a minimum Level 4 Code for Sustainable Homes as a minimum with a commitment to increase this across the site where viable or BREEAM Very Good as a minimum.
d. Surface water runoff will be minimised (current levels of runoff will not be increased) using sustainable urban drainage systems - for example landscaped areas, permeable surface, green roofs etc
e. Materials should be sourced locally wherever possible and procured from sustainable sources.
f. Sustainable waste management is required and must be a basic principle of the design. Developers will be required to submit a waste minimisation statement.

 

Design Principle B - Stucture
 
a. The current split of the site along North Street offers an opportunity to consider the creation of two distinct character zones - though there may be other contextually sensitive layouts.
b. New streets should be aligned along important view corridors. There is an opportunity to create a focus with views to the Brewery and Dowty House tower to the west; church spires to the south (St Mary's and St Gregory's in particular); and Holy Trinity to the west.  Any opportunities to retain glimpsed views of the Cotswold scarp should be retained. 
c. A perimeter block approach to new development on the site, which builds on the surrounding historic form, will help to create a clear hierarchy of spaces and a clear distinction between private and public space. It will also present an opportunity to complete currently fractured building lines along Portland Street and North Place.
d. Housing densities will demonstrate efficient use of land and respect impacts on neighbours.
e. Buildings of up to 5 storeys in height may be acceptable on main streets. However, heights are likely to be a maximum of 3 storeys on the northern and western edges in order to minimise the impact on neighbouring development.
Design Principle C - Design Quality
 
a. The new development will take cues from, and respond positively to, the site's historic context in a manner which delivers a set of buildings, streets and spaces which are clearly of their time. Pastiche building designs will not be permitted.
b. As a publically owned site, the design process will bring together private and public sector professionals from a range of skills working as a team from concept to implementation. Engagement with stakeholders will be key. A quality audit system will ensure Civic Pride objectives are being met.
c. The design process will be based on placemaking - developing the vision for the site envisaged through the other Civic Pride Strategies before moving to detailed design of buildings and traffic management regimes.
d. Streets and spaces will establish the structure for the development of the site and they must be well considered both strategically and in detail using a landscape-led approach. Detailed landscape plans will be required with planning applications.
e. In order to help create an identity and sense of place the materials used in buildings, streets and spaces will be high quality and long lasting. For streets and spaces, the Public Realm Strategy sets out a set of requirements for street furniture, surface materials, lighting and other elements.
f. With a few notable exceptions, Cheltenham is not a town of individual iconic buildings and, in the main, proposals for the site should avoid such approaches. However, the detailed layout may offer opportunities to use distinct building forms and elements to mark an important corner or approach.
g. The quality of detailing will be important to the success of the proposals. The submission of detailed plans, sections and elevations will be required for selected elements as part of detailed planning applications.
Design Principle D - Movement
 

4.4. The Civic Pride Transport Strategy sets a structure for strategic movement throughout the town. St Margaret's Road will take orbital traffic; Portland Street is a radial approach to the town centre. This establishes the context for movement within and around the site. The Strategy is currently under-going further modelling, the results of which are not yet available - potential developers are advised to check the latest situation with the Borough Council.

a. The development of the site will encourage sustainable transport choices by adopting a hierarchy where ease of movement by pedestrians and disabled people is a first priority, then cyclists, public transport users, essential service vehicles and finally private cars.
b. An improved pedestrian environment is required on St. Margaret's Road and Portland Street - addressing areas of pedestrian severance and improving links between the town centre (Boots Corner, Pittville Street, Lower High Street and the Brewery), the site and the north of Cheltenham. Each street will be given a strong landscape structure with spaces and tree planting. The design will help to calm traffic speeds and ease congestion - the current traffic light regime will be reviewed. These treatments will facilitate the pedestrian link between the town's two traditional promenades (The Promenade and Pittville Park).
c. All streets will provide access for pedestrians and disabled people in a safe and attractive environment with plenty of seating so that the less able can rest en route. Shared surface streets in particular will be designed so that the visually impaired can use them safely and confidently.
d. Routes through the site will accommodate calmed cycling movement - providing convenient and safe links to the emerging wider network of cycle routes and addressing severance by major roads around the site. Cycle parking will be well overlooked, easily accessible and some will be covered.
e. Portland Street will accommodate a 6-bay bus node for local and national services, to include appropriate interchange and support facilities. It may include supporting taxi provision.
f. It is envisaged that the main vehicular access will be from North Place, but any access proposals will be subject to modelling. All streets within the site will be designed to a maximum of 20mph.
g. The site needs to provide for car parking as follows:
    i. Residential parking will be provided at 0.8 spaces per unit
   ii. About 300 public car parking spaces will be provided
   iii. Other commercial and retail uses will be provided with limited parking to meet their essential operational and service requirements only
h. There are a variety of options for the location of parking.
    i. On-street - in secure, overlooked locations, suitably integrated in an attractive street-scene
   ii. Undercroft - subject to the creation of active frontages on ground floors
  iii. Underground - subject to suitable ground conditions
   iv. Multi-storey - subject to suitable screening with green walls or single aspect development to activate edges.

 

4.5. Rear parking courts in residential and general commercial areas are not acceptable as they create insecure intrusions into the core of blocks and are inefficient in use of space.

i. Residential cycle parking will be at 2 spaces per unit in convenient, secure, dry locations.
Design Principle E - Streets and Spaces
 

4.6. Other parts of the Civic Pride Urban Design Framework establish a vision and principles for the design and layout of streets which are attractive, avoid clutter and accommodate a variety of functions - including movement, social and recreational activity. The design and implementation of streets and spaces this site will comply with the all elements of the Urban Design Framework.

a. The site offers an opportunity to create a striking contemporary northern extension to the town centre using high quality materials and the integration of public art.  The continuation of a green corridor from the Promenade up to Pittville Park is required through new tree planting combined with an integrated public art and lighting design.
b. The new buildings enclosing the streets and spaces will take their cue from surrounding historic development and make a positive contribution to on-street activity and passive surveillance. Street frontages will include main entrances at regular intervals and active rooms. In order to help activate frontages and protect amenity, private rooms, such as bedrooms and bathrooms will not be permitted on ground floor street frontages.
c. To encourage safe streets, cafes will be encouraged to spill out onto streets and spaces and residential development will have opportunities for personalised space on street frontage (balconies, front gardens etc).
d. Boundary treatments will be clear and identifiable and should demarcate private areas from those accessible to the public. For residential buildings, the treatment should provide privacy and security whilst maintaining natural surveillance. Commercial uses should front directly onto public space where possible, with little requirement for boundary or threshold treatment.
e. To engender a strong sense of place and community cohesion, streets should be designed as outdoor rooms accommodating variety activity (variously - movement, parking, quiet relaxation, children's play and social activity). As indicated earlier, a strong landscape structure is required to create attractive streets and spaces. There will be abundant tree and shrub planting, opportunities for public art and high quality  surface materials
f. Within the site, North Place and any new streets will be designed as shared streets allowing easy movement of pedestrians, cyclists and vehicles.
g. There is an aspiration that St Margaret's Road will see the introduction of structural tree planting, new surfacing and the creation of a series of landscaped spaces. Street clutter in the form of highway infrastructure will be minimised as part of the design process. The street will be humanised - accommodating orbital traffic, but delivering a strong pedestrian presence to calm traffic movement. Designs should reflect this aspiration as they meet this edge.
h. A new public space will mark the northern gateway into Cheltenham and connect the historic Regency promenades of Montpellier and Pittville. The square will:
    i. establish a suitable setting for buildings including the bus node
    ii. establish an enhanced setting for Holy Trinity Church - taking a cohesive surface treatment across Portland Street which accommodates through vehicular traffic but leaves open opportunity for the extension of the main square's activities at appropriate times
   iii. incorporate robust hard and soft landscaping, providing areas of sun and shade and enabling flexibility of use (including quiet space, performance, meetings, social activity, play, and through pedestrian movement).


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