Scunthorpe Delivery Framework (SDF) Paper

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Personal Project. A critique of the current guidance in place and the opportunities to improve upon it to ensure that Scunthorpe is able to thrive in a competitive economy, defining the steps that need to be taken, upto and including the development of an Urban Design Framework in order to develop a vision for the town centre.

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Scunthorpe Delivery Framework (SDF) Paper

  1. 1. Scunthorpe Delivery Framework Improving the offering of the town centre A critique of the current guidance in place and the opportunities to improve upon it to ensure that Scunthorpe is able to thrive in a competitive economy 13/10/2011
  2. 2. Scunthorpe Delivery FrameworkOct 13 2 Scunthorpe Delivery Framework – Improving the offering of the town centre Summary of report • The entrance to Church Square and Scunthorpe High Street is tired and over engineered. Here we see a dominance of guard rails and crash barriers which do little to enhance the pedestrian experience of the area. It is time for the main routes into and out of the town centre to benefit from a sustained programme of works to improve the pedestrian experience in the town centre. • Creating a greener route with the introduction of trees and climbing plants, would allow for a more pleasant pedestrian experience and help to reduce the levels of PM10’s in the town centre. • A lighting scheme would also allow for increased footfall at night, thereby increasing trade for the many businesses in Scunthorpe. • There are a number of documents that have been produced over the years dealing with Scunthorpe Town Centre – these need to be refined and focused on current objectives. • Current guidance carries little / no weight in the planning process, with documents giving a series of ‘recommendations’ rather than specifying policy requirements. • Current best practice would suggest an approach which sets out specific policy requirements. • The Scunthorpe Urban Public Realm Guidance (SUPRDG) and the Scunthorpe Development Framework (SDF) are important starting points for developing a new strategy. • Note: Further information can be found in the accompanying Reshaping Urban Spaces paper to this report on the economic benefits of investing in the public realm. The current situation There are a number of documents that have been created dealing with Scunthorpe Town Centre (STC), originally this started with the Scunthorpe Development Framework (SDF) which was created as part of the Renaissance Towns initiative funded by Yorkshire Forward, the Regional Development Agency at the time. Following on from the SDF a Urban Public Realm Guide was produced, along with a Public Art Strategy for STC. In late 2009 the council in partnership with Yorkshire Forward employed Taylor Young to develop a masterplan for the town centre – this was however an abortive work, which was not taken forward. Currently, there is no specific policy requirement in terms of the public realm or the built environment for Scunthorpe. It is noted that the current documents, merely suggests a series of ‘recommendations’ or ‘ideas’ rather than setting out in clear policy terms what is required of developers. For instance the only recommendations taken from the SDF were the Lincolnshire Lakes. However the recommendations made make some clear and important points, which have not been taken forward, proposals such as Percent for Art and a Public Art Strategy which were in included in the SUPRDG are still relevant, whilst the proposals outlined in the SDF for the town centre are still relevant, although they may not meet the council’s/public’s current aspirations. One of the key recommendations of the guidance contained within the SUPRDG is the selection of a palette of materials that are simple and help to co-ordinate the public realm (including street furniture, lighting etc.), to date this has not been pursued, whilst recommendations for wayfinding etc. as outlined in the SDF were not explored further. It should also be noted that the SUPRDG and SDF are guidance. It would for instance carry no weight in the event of a planning appeal whereby the council considered it to be contrary to the recommendations contained within it.
  3. 3. Scunthorpe Delivery FrameworkOct 13 3 Added Value of Good Design in a Challenging Economic Climate In a report commissioned by the North West Regional Development Agency (RENEW NorthWest) about the economic benefits of good design a series of questions were asked of various market experts such as letting agents for commercial schemes. The importance of good design was highlighted in the responses received overall; the majority of respondents (68%) believed that good design was either very important or important. In terms of the impact of good design, more than 74% of agents that responded stated that good design adds economic value in terms of increased rents and capital values, the same response was given in relation to occupancy and take-up rates in that 74% of the agents contacted stated that good design would be a determining factor in attracting companies to an area. Finally in relation to the overall market attractiveness of an area 71% of the agents contacted stated that good design is very important in order for the market to be considered attractive, whilst 48% of the agents contacted stated that good design would be a very important factor in attracting funding or investment to an area. The role of Public Art The Public Art Appendix contained within the SUPRDG could essentially be established as a separate Supplementary Planning Document, with some revisions to the text to make it more relevant to the current circumstances of today. On the whole, it is perfectly relevant for what is needed in Scunthorpe and North Lincolnshire. The existing public art appendix explains the benefits that public art can bring to the town centre and the wider region of North Lincolnshire therefore it should be supported. The proposal It is considered that on the whole, the existing SUPRDG and SDF documents retain some salient points that should be taken forward in any revised document. The Streetscape document that has been produced as part of the MA in Urban Design that I completed in 2010, is in essence an innovation from the original guidance, in that it does specify a palette of materials, that subject to public consultation could be revised and implemented as planning policy (subject to the agreement with Highways and Neighbourhood Services). The streetscape document needs to be refined however. Principally, because the document was created with little participation in its creation. The key to any transformational agenda for the town centre is public / political “buy-in”, without their support any proposal is likely to fail. Moreover the costs involved mean that it is important that there is a concerted campaign – to political leaders at least of the economic gains to be considered by implementing a programme of public realm works. Additionally, work needs to be done in order to ascertain the level of works the council would be prepared to accept in the town centre itself and within the Church Square area of Scunthorpe (referred to as the Scunthorpe Key Development Area – SKDA), in the form of a Urban Design Framework (UDF). Further work could also be undertaken to widen the scope of the document to make into what could be referred to as the Scunthorpe Delivery Framework, a document that would condense, and focus on what the council’s priorities are for the town centre, in relation to the public realm, built environment, shop front design, business support etc. To get to this point a programme has been set out below: The Programme of Works 1. Take members and senior officers to inspiring places such as Sheffield and Manchester City Centre’s. Whilst not on a comparable scale in terms of cost and size etc. It is important to consider the issues raised that places such as Sheffield and Manchester went through to get to where they are today. For instance in Sheffield’s case, they wanted to re-invigorate the retail and office offering in the city centre to make it comparable with Manchester and Leeds. Find out what lessons can be learned from these two exemplar cities. On a more comparable level, but further afield, it may be worthwhile visiting the towns of Darlington, Cleveland and Workington, Cumbria. These towns are both of a comparable size to Scunthorpe with
  4. 4. Scunthorpe Delivery FrameworkOct 13 4 Workington being slightly smaller in population and Darlington being larger. However, again it should be noted that the processes that these towns went through in order to re-invigorate the respective town centres – for instance in Workington this was public art led, with various pieces of public art installed in the town centre, the majority of which were interactive such as the Hub. More information can be found within the attached public realm briefing paper. 2. Prepare an engagement strategy that uses design to engage widely with people across the authority. It is important that design is used creatively, the purpose of the engagement strategy is to re- invigorate people’s attention on the town centre. If the engagement strategy does not effectively engage with the public then it is likely that there will be a element of resentment that they are not participating in the design and thus will not take ownership of any proposals or look after them, from there; 3. Hold visioning workshops with the public a la the Crucible type event that was held under the Yorkshire Forward/ SDF days. These visioning workshops could be held in one the empty shopping units in the Foundry or the Parishes. The visioning workshops need to engage with the public in line with the approved engagement strategy. Methods such as charettes could be utilised, asking people which bit of Scunthorpe is their favourite/least favourite, engage creatively with children in schools by asking them to draw what they would like to see in the town centre/what they think of it. Lastly as part of a online / written consultation exercise it would useful to utilise the Placecheck method (www.placecheck.info) - asking 3 simple questions - What Do You Like? What Do You Not Like? and What Do You Think Needs To Be Improved? The opinions expressed could be collated and then fed into the review process below: 4. Review the natural and built assets of the Town Centre and map what needs to change and what should stay the same; The format of this could be like a Townscape Heritage Assessment, using the feedback gained from the visioning exercises. Looking at the existing buildings in the town centre, what could be realistically retained/demolished/modified? Analyse how the town centre has developed since the 1920’s and see whether or not it is possible to re-establish old streets that have been lost, should the town centre be shrunk in size? etc. 5. Develop a vision for the Town Centre - there would need to be a review of the existing documents that deal with the Town Centre, for instance in the past 10 years there has been the SSDF, SUPRDG, and the aborted Town Centre Masterplan. All of these documents had something important to say and should not be discarded without first seeing what is relevant to the councils/public aspirations for the town centre, see what can be taken forward as part of the new vision. Does the council for instance believe that the creation of a ‘cultural’ quarter is no longer viable and a ‘civic; quarter is more appropriate in Church Square; 6. Do design based workshops to map and draw our proposals with stakeholders and test if they will meet our design aspirations – this will involve workshops with members, stakeholders and the public in order to test the proposals; 7. Articulate the vision into a physical plan for the future - ;
  5. 5. Scunthorpe Delivery FrameworkOct 13 5 8. Develop the plan into a well designed document so that it is easy to read - along the lines of the Streetscape guide that I produced as part of the MA. Other successful examples to look at are the Sheffield City Centre Masterplan 2008, Sheffield Urban Design Compendium, Lincolnshire County Council – Every Street Matters and the Havant Town Centre Urban Design Framework. All of the documents mentioned work at a different scale, from the citywide in Sheffield to a town centre such as the Havant UDF, this should give a thorough understanding of what is required in any document dealing with Scunthorpe Town Centre; 9. As part of the document, design criteria/policies should be prepared to ensure that developers etc. understand the principles and vision for the town centre - i.e. a Urban Design Framework. Project timetable Subject to consultation with service heads, members and the public a project timetable would be drawn up detailing timescales for delivery.

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