Site Allocations Plan March 2016

Document Section Site Allocations Plan March 2016 PUT FORWARD A SITE OR MAKE GENERAL COMMENTS General comments for Nailsea [View all comments on this section]
Comment ID 14823809//23
Respondent Nailsea Action Group [View all comments by this respondent]
Response Date 28 Apr 2016
Comment

Housing Context

About Nailsea Action Group

Nailsea Action Group (NAG) provides a focus for Nailsea's residents to express unity in response to planning matters. It was formed on 20/01/2016 at a public meeting attended by at least 60 residents following a distribution of leaflets though letter boxes. A small committee was formed and a website (http://www.nailseaaction.org.uk/) has been set up to keep residents informed. The Group has subsequently held six public meetings. We are currently distribute over 1,500 leaflets per delivery. As a result of these meetings and leaflet drops we are directly in touch with over 200 residents across Nailsea by email and postal address. Residents local to all four of the largest sites are contributing to our responses to the consultation.

NAG's main objection

For the reasons given below The Nailsea Action Group say that the overall number of homes allocated to Nailsea is too high. To unblock the market for family sized homes in the town, homes are needed that are smaller than normally provided by volume house builders. Consequently the land area around Nailsea allocated for housing in the plan is too high as these smaller homes, particularly in retirement aprtments, each require less land. NAG is also principally concerned that the infrastructure to and from, in and around the town, which is already under pressure, will be far from equal to the impact of a significant increase in housing. NAG objects to the potential destruction of its intimate rural setting particularly at its interface with the countryside that surrounds it.

What Nailsea needs

Since Nailsea was first expanded as a dormitory town in the 1960s, the roads (notably the M5 motorway) and other infrastructure around other towns in the district have improved while the infrastructure around and in Nailsea has stagnated. This has progressively put Nailsea at a disadvantage in the competition for employment so that today the parlous state of its employment locations and the catalogue of employment sites that have been and are planned to become residential or recreational (see NAG response to the employment Land at NW Nailsea) is a testament to the failure of planning policy to maintain Nailsea as a suitable destination for employment development.

During Nailsea's growth as a dormitory town the residential development focussed on family sized homes with few, if any, smaller properties. The parents of families that moved into those family homes have put down roots here. Their children have now grown up and flown the nest and the parents have remained in the same homes because there is such a large shortfall of smaller homes to which they could downsize. This is blocking the housing market for family sized homes in Nailsea causing the town's population to fall by 9%, which has several adverse effects that are of concern including its contribution to the high house prices across the district that prevent first time buyers from getting on the housing ladder.

New homes that are suitable for downsizing have the potential to ease the housing market by releasing the family sized homes of existing Nailsea residents. Concentrating development in the town on homes like this would lead to increased population because larger families could occupy the vacated homes.

By easing the housing market in this way, homes for working families will become available as older people move into the more suitable housing that would be built. Given the unsuitability of Nailsea as a destination for employment development it is consequently inappropriate to consider developing more homes for working people.

Sites and Policies part 1 inquiry document ED14 (Nailsea Evidence Paper) shows that, of all the towns in the District, Nailsea aleady has the greatest proportion of 3 bedroom homes and that it and Portishead have the greatest proportion of 4 bedroom homes in the district. This indicates that, for a balanced housing market, Nailsea needs no more 3 and 4 bedroom homes.

Sites and Policies part 1 inquiry document ED5 gives the Council's response to the inspector's issues and questions. In it the Coucil states “Any policies or allocations which are potentially impacted by the revised housing target or how it is proposed to be spatially distributed over the plan period will be dealt with in the Sites and Allocations Plan (Part 2 – Site Allocations)”. Under the terms of that committment we now ask that DM35 (Nailsea Housing type and mix) is tightened up so that on sites where 5 or more homes are to be built:

  • Non terraced houses with No 4 bedroom homes are not permitted
  • The area within the curtilage of Non terraced houses, 3 bedroom homes is restricted

On the basis of the above, if it is homes for the 'downsizers' that are needed (in order to free up currently under occupied housing for larger, younger families), then developing property for them on the distant outskirts of the town at a time when they may prefer and need to be nearer central amenities, would be misplaced.

Contrary to CS20

The proposals for so many homes in Nailsea will damage operation of Core Strategy policy CS20 for Nailsea “Within Clevedon, Nailsea and Portishead new employment development will be supported primarily on allocated land with a key objective of improving self containment, and reducing out-commuting”. The sites allocated to Nailsea will have the opposite effect by aggravating the existing excess of homes relative to the dismal employment opportunities in the town.

Schools

There are four primary schools in Nailsea: Kingshill (Church of England), Golden Valley, St Francis (Catholic) and the Grove and Hannah More Federation. All were built (respectively circa 1963, 1980, 1980 and 1964) at the time when the population was responding to a massive increase in housing in the town. Kingshill is significantly undersubscribed and the only primary school in the town to be so, but its capacity is only half that of either Golden Valley or the of the Federation. St Francis is not quite full, but has significantly more first preference choices for September 2016 than it has room for, but its 'catchment' as a Catholic school extends well beyond the town of Nailsea and the school is only half the size of Golden Valley and of the Federation. Golden Valley and the Federation have a few places available. If the proposed site allocations by Engine Lane and The Uplands are developed, even without taking account of the, as yet, unallocated site by Youngwood Lane, the nearest school, the Federation, would be significantly over subscribed and pupils would be directed to Kingshill. If the Causeway View site is developed as well, then Kingshill would be significantly oversubscribed too.

Nailsea Town Council is concerned that a number of schools in the town are undersubscribed, the secondary school significantly so. The need to increase the roll there is immediate, i.e in September 2016, well before any building will have taken place on the proposed sites and certainly very well before any occupants arrive (probably no earlier than for the September 2018 intake at the very earliest). Furthermore, to restore the fortunes of the undersubscribed secondary school would take a massive housing development, far beyond the aspirations of the Town or unitary authority Council or the nationally set targets. Therefore developing the proposed sites would only go a relatively small way to re-populating the secondary school which needs to look more deeply into the reason why so many, (49, for example, for 2016) Nailsea resident pupils have stated a first preference for neighbouring Backwell Secondary School, and why others are prepared to go even further afield rather than express the local school as their first choice. Even if those forty-nine pupils had registered with Nailsea, there will still be forty-one places unfilled in Year 7 in September 2016 unless the school picks up pupils' second, third and subsequent choices from other oversubscribed areas.

Health

There are two health centres in Nailsea. Both are very busy. One is particularly so where it is well known that it is very difficult to obtain a doctor's appointment without a significant wait sometimes of several weeks. An increase in the town's population will clearly make this even more likely. The town is well served by chemists, pharmacies and other outlets for general medical and cosmetic supplies. As the percentage of the total population of the town of older people increases, it is likely that there will be corresponding need for more medical services in Nailsea. Nailsea is home to a wide range of sports and healthy activities clubs and groups from rugby, football, cricket, hockey, and badminton to skateboarding, running, walking, fitness, yoga, zumba and so on. There are floodlit pitches at either end of the town, and a sports and leisure centre at Scotch Horn. The nearest full size swimming pool is in neighbouring Backwell and there are plans for a smaller one to be built in Nailsea

Local Traffic and Transport

The District Council’s Transport Planning Department has provided the following assistance to Nailsea Action Group. This dialogue with the Traffic department was facilitated by a councillor:

  • loan of click counters
  • Information on publicly available algorithms for modelling the effect of development on traffic flows
  • Guidance on patterns of commuting from Nailsea
  • The results of relevant traffic counts that the Council have already carried out

The Transport Planning Department’s assistance has enabled Nailsea Action Group to come to an informed view of the likely impact of the proposed development on traffic flows in and around Nailsea by undertaking the following activities:

  • The group’s volunteers have carried out rush hour traffic counts on two days at 5 junctions in the town suggested by the Council’s Transport Planning Department.
  • Using the traffic modelling information, and with the benefit of its members’ local knowledge, the group has analysed the impact of the proposed development on the traffic flows observed by the group’s traffic count volunteers and the counts undertaken by the Council.
  • One of the group’s members has prepared a report on the results of these traffic counts and traffic modelling and uploaded it to the Council’s consultation response web site as an appendix to this Housing Context response.
  • The Group's Counts have also been sent to the Council's Transport Policy Department as information to help them (see attached)

The roads around Nailsea and employment opportunities have not been improved in line with the housing growth since the 1960s leading to high levels of car based commuting. Increasing prosperity nationally has resulted in greater car use. These things have led to increasing congestion in Nailsea and on the commuting routes to employment elsewhere. The results of our traffic surveys and analysis indicates that the increased congestion from the proposed developments will be significant and that, before any major development takes place in or around Nailsea, the local transport infrastructure should be improved to avoid that congestion.

Poor road infrastructure will lead to highway safety issues and reduce the amenity value of the surrounding lanes for walkers, cyclists and horse riders.

Public Transport

The allocation plan recognizes that the majority of employment opportunities will be outside of Nailsea thereby putting a higher demand on the transport infrastructure for commuters into Bristol and Weston-super-Mare.

http://www.ukroads.org/webfiles/LTN%201-04%20Policy,%20Planning%20and%20Design%20for%20Walking%20and%20Cycling.pdf

Trains

Whilst the bus service both within Nailsea and to Bristol is good and serves the whole town, (but it is much less good to neighbouring towns such as Clevedon and Portishead), the current Network Rail Route and Network specifications for the main rail line serving North Somerset makes no provision for increased passenger capacity on the route. Given that the majority of employment opportunities for people in North Somerset lie in Bristol and it's immediate surrounds, or Weston-super-Mare, it is likely that a reasonable proportion of those will commute by rail. The rail services during the main commuter periods are already at near capacity and the cumulative effect of proposed development in Yatton, Congresbury, Clevedon and Nailsea is likely to take these services beyond their capacity.

Car Park

  • Whilst having been recently expanded the Nailsea and Backwell station Car Park is already close to capacity at peak times. A survey of the car parking at Nailsea and Backwell station shows that it is at 87% full.
  • Survey conducted between ~08:45 and 09:15 on 21/04/2016
  • see attached picture of car park

Distance from housing

  • The location of the majority of the housing sites in the allocation plan are too far from the station to allow commuters to walk easily to the station (see table 3.2 below from the Chartered Institute of Highways and Transportation (CIHT).

Table 3.2: Suggested Acceptable Walking Distance. 1)

    Town centres(m) Commuting/School/Sight–seeing (m) Elsewhere (m)
  Desirable 200 500 400
  Acceptable 400 1000 800
  Preferred maximum 800 2000 1200

 

  • The majority of sites exceed the preferred maximum walking distance as set out in these guidelines from The Institution of Highways and Transportation.
  • Poor integration between bus and rail services mean that it is impractical to use buses as an alternative option to using the car.
  • Cycle parking at the station is also limited and the secluded location of the station car park makes bicycles more susceptible to vandalism.

Buses

The bus service both within Nailsea and to Bristol is good at four an hour for most of the day, and serves most of the town. It is much less good to neighbouring towns such as Clevedon and Portishead though a better service is planned. There are occasional services to the nearby airport and to educational establishments in Weston at the start and end of the working day. During the day those wishing to reach Weston would take the local bus to Bristol alighting at Backwell, and then cross the road to board the next bus to Weston. The assumption that most local residents shopping in Nailsea would automatically take the bus is questionable particularly if they have small children in tow, have a lot of shopping to do, or the weather is bad. There will therefore be consequential pressure on car parking in Nailsea.

Attachments