Local Plan 2036: Issues and Options Stage

Comment ID 21482657//7
Document Section 1. North Somerset Local Plan 2036: Issues and Options Document Nailsea Q24. Do you agree with the principles set out for Nailsea and would you suggest any changes to these? View all on this section
Respondent Nailsea Unit Trust (c/o Elland… View all by this respondent
Response Date 10 Dec 2018
Comment

We support the Council’s clear commitment that the proposed local centre should not detract from Nailsea town centre. This is important because a significant amount of investment has been made within the town centre by Nailsea Unit Trust and other key stakeholders and there are substantial further investment opportunities which are being pursued. These investment opportunities will secure the introduction of additional space for new town centre uses, including services that will meet a proportion of the expenditure generated by new residents.

Key opportunity sites include the Weston College at Somerset Square alongside the Station Road Car Park which could deliver a substantial leisure and retail offer with consolidated car parking (albeit the Metrolink should positively improve accessibility to the town centre thereby reducing local reliance on cars and improvements to walking / cycling routes to the town centre should be a key infrastructure requirement of the sustainable urban extension).

To ensure that the proposed local centre does not undermine the vitality and viability of Nailsea town centre, it will be appropriate and necessary to define the parameters of a Local Centre within the emerging Local Plan. This is in terms of both the types of uses and overall floorspace which should be in line with its position in the settlement hierarchy and should also be subject to sequential and impact test during the plan making process (as required by the NPPF).

The NPPF does not include a definition of local centres, nor does the accompanying Planning Practice Guidance. However, Planning Policy Statement 4: Planning for Sustainable Economic Growth (which was superseded by the NPPF) did contain the following definition at Annex B:

“Local centres include a range of small shops of a local nature, serving a small catchment. Typically, local centres might include, amongst other shops, a small supermarket, a newsagent, a sub-post office and a pharmacy. Other facilities could include a hot-food takeaway and launderette. In rural areas, large villages may perform the role of a local centre.”

Whilst PPS4 is no longer technically in force the make-up of local centres nationally has not changed substantially as the retail and leisure industry evolves. This is because the nature of local centres is one of meeting top-up needs or access to smaller scale services leaving larger civic, retailing, leisure and service functions to higher order centres as defined by the Local Plan. The above definition therefore provides a helpful starting point for determining the form and nature of a local centre within the proposed strategic residential-led extension to the south west of Nailsea.

Our recommendation would be that the proposed local centre is defined as follows:

“Land to the south west of Nailsea will include a new Local Centre which will serve the immediate locality. The uses of the local centre will typically include a small supermarket below 280 Sqm (A1 Use Class), a limited range of other small shops / services A1-A5 (each below 100 Sqm and up to 700 Sqm of total floorspace) and community facilities (D1/D2 uses, each unit below 200 Sqm per unit and up to 420 Sqm of total floorspace). The services could include a surgery, post office, hair dresser and / or nursery. The total floorspace of the local centre should not exceed 1,400 Sqm. All floorspace figures relate to Gross Internal Area. Proposals for the amalgamation of units which breach the above unit thresholds or for the introduction of additional floorspace through mezzanine floors which breaches the total floorspace for the local centre will need to be assessed against the sequential and impact test as defined by the NPPF (this policy overrides the 2,500 Sqm threshold for impact assessment as set by the NPPF)”.

In addition to the inclusion of the above definition within the relevant policy of the emerging Local Plan, we would also request that the plan identifies a phasing strategy for the urban extension, including limiting the development / operation of the local centre until sufficient residential development has been delivered to support its turnover. This will reduce the likelihood of trade being diverted from the existing town centre.

The key features objectives should include improving vehicular, cycling and walking routes from the urban extension through to Nailsea town centre. The phasing of these should be such that they are in place prior to occupation of the local centre i.e. at the point a reasonable number of homes have been completed.

New employment land should be well connected to the existing town centre and also the new residential community through cycle and pedestrian links as well as the Metrobus link. It should also be made clear in the accompanying policy that employment land refers to traditional employment use classes or sui-generis uses which have a similar employment generating function (B1-B8).

For the avoidance of doubt it should also be made clear that town centre uses including retail and leisure uses do not constitute ‘employment uses’ for the purposes of the employment allocation(s).

The proposed development will require the preparation of a costed Masterplan for review at the next stage of consultation. This will allow consultees to comment on likely phasing options and also proposals for how the scheme will link through to existing communities in Nailsea. Links will need to be enhanced through improving off-site pedestrian and cycle routes to the town centre and also the railway station. This is in addition to identifying when the Metrobus route requirement will be triggered and implemented.

As with any large sustainable urban extension, a greater degree of community support will be achieved where there is realism from the outset about what infrastructure is viable and at what stage in the phasing of development it will be delivered. For Nailsea, the existing community would, in our view, benefit most from a closely integrated scheme that identifies and secures early delivery of key sustainable walking and cycling infrastructure to existing facilities in the town.

The development must not be a standalone, self-serving development otherwise it misses a substantial opportunity to support and enhance a well performing existing town and town centre. Indeed, a standalone development is likely to be counter-productive to the future of Nailsea.

As stated in response to preceding questions, key walking and cycling routes to existing facilities need to be identified from the outset, designed and costed and then included within a phased delivery strategy for the development.

 

Summary
We support the Council’s clear commitment that the proposed local centre should not detract from Nailsea town centre. This is important because a significant amount of investment has been made within the town centre by Nailsea Unit Trust and other key stakeholders and there are substantial further investment opportunities which are being pursued. These investment opportunities will secure the introduction of additional space for new town centre uses.
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