BSCF's further comments on Solum's public exhibition outlining their Goods Yard redevelopment proposals
||27 January 2016|
GOODS YARD SITE REGENERATION
I am writing to you following your presentation on 11 January with further feedback from our members on your plans for the goods yard site. I should say at the outset that we were disappointed that relatively few of our previous comments had been taken on board and so I shall list briefly the issues which concern us rather than repeating at length the points we have already made.
Our concerns are as follows
Traffic and Parking
- It was not clear from the presentation whether you still intend to include the southern access road in the first phase of the development. In our view this is an essential precondition of any development taking place on the site.
- You appear have ruled out the use of the road system on the site as a through road without explaining why, and this conclusion needs to be justified, since it forms part of the approved SDG transport strategy for the town. If is the correct conclusion, however, you do not appear to have any effective measures in place to prevent it being used as a rat run. An effective measure would be a physical barrier whose release could only be triggered by public service and emergency vehicles and taxis. But this would mean that residents could only gain access to their own parking spaces from one end of the site or the other rather than both.
- Your plans appear to create a large number of conflicting and potentially dangerous movements between pedestrians, buses and pick up/drop off traffic in the station forecourt area. You need to explain how the area can be laid out so as to manage these flows safely.
- You appear to have no plans for creating safe pedestrian access from the development site to the eastern part of the town. In this context I should mention that, in addition to the flows arising from the location of four schools and the Herts and Essex Hospital east of the railway, the Herts and Essex School currently uses the bus station as its collection point for dedicated school transport. The changes to traffic management on the Station Road bridge over the railway may have made it safer for vehicular traffic, but it has become more dangerous for pedestrians.
- We were unclear about how many additional parking spaces were to be provided for the various separate uses – commuters, residents and hotel guests, and whether these would be sufficient for the demands created by the separate uses.
- Overall, the modelling of the traffic impacts did not seem to have advanced since your presentation to us in October.
Quantum and Scale of Development
- We agree that it is preferable for the tallest buildings to be located by the station rather than at the southern end of the site but think that 7 storeys is too high.
- We would like to see a reduced number of flats and some family homes included in the dwelling mix.
- We were not persuaded by your estimate of the demand for school places which the development would generate and wondered what its source was and whether the County Council had agreed with it. We also wondered where you expected those children would receive their education – our schools are full.
- It will have been apparent from comments made at the meeting that you have much further work to do to make the building styles attractive to those who will have to live with and in them.
- Could you please make available at the forthcoming public exhibition the various themes or architectural styles you have considered together with an explanation of the reasons for your preferred approach?
- You have not taken up our suggestion that the millennium bridge might be a more suitable location for the hotel, but we were disappointed not to see any proposals to complement activity on the other side of the river, such as a café or pub and some serviced moorings.
Gateway to the Town
- See above for our comments on the quality of design. Could we also suggest that when your plans are further advanced you build a physical architectural model of the planned development. Such models convey a far better impression of the plans than computer generated images which can be quite misleading about dimensions and scale.
- Pedestrian facilities on the Station Road bridge over the River Stort need to be improved but we saw no reference to this at the meeting.
- We also saw no reference to other potential public realm improvements such as a medical centre.
- I have received no answer to my suggestion that the railway should be used for spoil removal and delivery of materials. This is what Network Rail use the siding for at present, and their use of it is very infrequent.
I am sorry if this response seems rather negative but it seems to us that you have a great deal more work to do. As a result, you may well find that a further public exhibition will be needed after the one to be held on 2 and 3 February, before your planning application is submitted.
I am copying this email to Kevin Steptoe, Head of Planning and Building Control at EHDC.