Church Square Development Brief


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A personal attempt at a Development Brief for a large urban area of the town centre of Scunthorpe

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Church Square Development Brief

  1. 1. Church SquareDevelopment BriefA New Heart for ScunthorpeA development brief to realise the potential for the ChurchSquare area of ScunthorpeNLC12/15/2010
  2. 2. Dec. 15 Church Square Development Brief Church Square – The Heart of Scunthorpe Development Brief Summary • The entrance to Church Square and thus the Scunthorpe 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 city 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 a wider pavement, would allow for a more pleasant pedestrian experience. A lighting scheme would also allow for increased footfall at night, thereby increasing trade for the many businesses in Scunthorpe. • Consideration will also be given to opening up more connections across the A1077 or rationalising the existing ones, which as well as not creating a pleasant pedestrian experience are magnets for anti-social behaviour in the evenings. Ideas to explore involve the creation of surface crossings that minimise the disruption to vehicular traffic on what is an important road. • The brief is also intended to look at the possibility of creating a new urban park, possibly centred around St John’s Church. Analysis has shown that public space is centred around the northern edge of Church Square, therefore the site recently occupied by the former Club 2000 building could provide a new public park for people at the northern end of Church Square. • Finally it is considered that to give a coherent structure to the Church Square area that a design code be explored for the land. Analysis has shown a number of planned and completed developments which could be considered to cause considerable harm to the built environment due to their size, scale and massing. It is considered that a more measured approach is to the benefit of the area, creating developments that are more in keeping with the character of the area. The site and its surroundings In this section of the brief the site’s key characteristics including its location, its physical features, and its relationship with adjacent land uses are considered. This is set out under the following headings: • Site Location • The Site • The Site’s Surroundings • Accessibility • Land Ownership • Relevant Planning History Site Location The Church Square site is located within the Scunthorpe Town Centre Area, which forms the largest settlement in North Lincolnshire. With over half of North Lincolnshire’s population (around 76,500 people), Scunthorpe and Bottesford Urban Area is the location for 51% of the total number of dwellings in the sub-region. It also acts as a principal destination for commuters from other towns and villages for employment, shopping, leisure and health facilities. In addition, around 60% of all jobs in North Lincolnshire are located in the Scunthorpe urban area as it is the only major town in the local authority area with significant retail, leisure and service facilities. 2
  3. 3. Dec. 15 Church Square Development Brief Google Earth Image of site in context with Scunthorpe The site lies to the east of the defined town centre and is bordered on the eastern end by the A1077 orbital road. The A1077 is one of the busiest roads in Scunthorpe and provides an important route for the HGV’s and other vehicles to get to the various industrial estates and the TATA Steelworks around the edge of Scunthorpe. The A1077, together with the adjoining M181, form part of the orbital road around Scunthorpe. This offers a direct link to the M180 motorway. As part of the national road network this functions as a strategic east-west route between the South Humber ports and the M18 and Doncaster. To the south is Station Road, which is a predominantly residential road, which leads to Scunthorpe Train Station. To the west is Carlton Street, which acts as the main servicing route for deliveries to some of the shops in Scunthorpe and provides access to the Church Square Multi- Storey Car Park (MSCP) and the Carlton Street Surface Car Park (SCP). 3
  4. 4. Dec. 15 Church Square Development Brief The Site The site lies entirely within the North Lincolnshire District Council administrative boundary and is located in the Town ward area. Google Earth Image of site The site is broadly rectangular in shape, although it curves in line with adjacent streets. The site itself is flat. Existing buildings on site are generally of a poor quality, with relatively large areas cleared and in need of redevelopment such as the existing Carlton Street SCP. The site itself is dominated by large utilitarian buildings such as the Leisure Centre and Indoor Bowls Centre, with the Central Library located in the north-west corner of the site. The former Club 2000 has recently been demolished which has left Church Square wide open and allowing St John’s Church to be the dominant building in the area, with 20-21 being a relatively recent and subservient structure next to the only listed building in the centre of Scunthorpe. To the south of the site is a retail led development which is characterised by uniform structures which do little to promote a sense of arrival to the town centre. Within these buildings are a Netto, Brantano and Poundstretcher. 4
  5. 5. Dec. 15 Church Square Development Brief 5
  6. 6. Dec. 15 Church Square Development Brief The Sites Surroundings The site is as mentioned previously bordered to the north by the high street and one of the main council buildings in Church Square House, adjacent to that is an existing car sales business, to the south by the existing retail sheds, to the east and west you have Carlton Street and Brigg Road respectively. Across Brigg Road, is the Corus / Tata Steelworks, whereas bordering Carlton Street is the defined town centre. To the east there is the listed St John’s Church and 20-21 Visual Arts Centre. Images of site surroundings 6
  7. 7. Dec. 15 Church Square Development Brief Accessibility The site lies on the border of the town centre and although it has poor pedestrian connections to areas outside of the town centre, it is very well connected to the town centre and surrounding areas. 7
  8. 8. Dec. 15 Church Square Development Brief Land Ownership The map below details the known land ownership of the site at this current moment in time and the adjacent buildings. 8
  9. 9. Dec. 15 Church Square Development Brief Relevant Planning History There are no extant planning permissions which affect the identified site, however there are a number of other considerations, such as the fact that Carlton Street SCP is often used by travelling fairs and Church Square has often been used in the past as a venue for speciality markets, therefore proposals will have to consider whether these events can be incorporated into the final design. Planning Policy North Lincolnshire Local Plan The site is identified as being suitable for mixed use development under policy MX1. Policy MX1 states: “North Lincolnshire Council is committed to achieving sustainable development and prosperous communities. In large towns and urban areas the vitality and health of such communities is often dependent upon creating and maintaining thriving and diverse town centres which accommodate a multiplicity of retail, employment, leisure, cultural and other service activities. Town centres are also highly accessible by public transport and means other than the private car. Mixed uses can generate a significant number of trips and are most suitably located in town centres where major transport infrastructure is located and where they are also within close proximity to resident populations thus maximising opportunities for travel by walking, cycling and public transport. The importance of promoting mixed use developments is acknowledged in PPG1 which states that such proposals can help create vitality and diversity and reduce the need to travel. It also advises that local plans should identify individual sites where development should incorporate a mixture of uses and also include a list of those uses which are considered appropriate. Town centres, in particular, are capable of absorbing a variety of development often at greater densities, if sensitively designed, without detrimental impact upon local amenity or the environment. The identification of town centre sites, which have often been previously developed, for mixed use developments can also promote the sustainable regeneration of town centres and improve the quality of the built environment. The sites proposed for mixed uses can accommodate one or a variety of uses which would both contribute towards promoting the vitality and viability of centres and are in locations where appropriate development would not create any adverse impact upon the surrounding amenity or environment of the area. The sites identified are well served by public transport and are located close to large residential populations. Mixed use sites which are closely related to town centres may be capable of accommodating an increased density of development. Where mixed use development is considered appropriate it will be necessary to ensure that the quality of design of the development contributes to and improves the appearance and character of the environment. In order to provide guidance for the design and development of such sites, development briefs will be prepared. Planning conditions and/or planning obligations will be utilised to secure an appropriate mixture of uses on certain sites and, where necessary, suitable open space provision may be required.” North Lincolnshire Development Framework – Core Strategy Although not formally adopted, the Core Strategy will be undergoing examination in January 2011, there it is considered diligent to include the policies from the Core Strategy that will have an impact on any proposals put forward for the site. The site itself is not designated for any particular use at this stage. The policies listed below are considered to have an impact on any proposals that are put forward for the site: 9
  10. 10. Dec. 15 Church Square Development Brief This policy sets out the major transformational projects which are aimed at delivering area wide renaissance in North Lincolnshire. Implementation of these schemes will be dependent on working closely with partners such as Yorkshire Forward, other public sector bodies and the private sector as well as ensuring that the local community are involved throughout the process. The design of The Pods and Central Park project was commissioned through an international design competition to ensure the building and surrounding parkland is modern, iconic, state of the art to drive forward the Urban Renaissance of the town. Work has commenced and is due to be completed in 2011. The work on Central Park also forms a key part of the creation of the New Century Garden Town. The Knowledge Campus is dependent on partnership working between the council and education and skills providers to provide opportunities for education and the development of skilled and talented people and develop a lifelong learning culture. To deliver the Lincolnshire Lakes scheme, feasibility studies have been undertaken which considered economic, transport, legal, environmental, and planning issues. The feasibility studies outlined potential development scenarios for housing, employment, sustainable power generation, recreation and tourism, and the creation of a significant body of water. The next stage will be the development of a masterplan for the Lakes area which will form part of the Lincolnshire Lakes Area Action Plan. The Area Action Plan will ensure that the planning and delivery of the uses set out in the masterplan is co-ordinated and phased appropriately. It will also be the key document which will guide developers and decision makers on what form development should take and the levels of infrastructure to be provided to support that development. Crowle Market Place improvements are being co-ordinated via the Crowle Market Place Delivery Group. Designs have already been prepared and the council has purchased or is in the process of purchasing a number of properties in and around the Market Place for demolition to allow the project to be implemented. A three phase approach is being adopted to implement this project. Funding for phase 1 was secured from Yorkshire Forward and completion is expected by March 2010. As of yet funding has not been secured for phase 2 and 3. 10
  11. 11. Dec. 15 Church Square Development Brief This policy sets out the key design principles for all new development in North Lincolnshire. Its aim is to ensure that development supports the creation of a high quality built environment which is attractive to residents, investors and visitors. However, it is not just about the architecture of a building. The same principles apply to the spaces 11
  12. 12. Dec. 15 Church Square Development Brief between buildings, particularly within built up areas, that make an important contribution to people’s lives. Parks, gardens, playing fields, amenity areas and town and village squares offer pleasant settings to live, work and play as well as providing social meeting places and important breaks in built up areas. To ensure that development proposals meet this policy requirement, a Design and Access Statement should accompany planning applications in accordance with the guidance set out in DCLG Circular 01/2006: Guidance On Changes To The Development Control System and CABE guidance. Design and Access Statements should provide a site analysis describing how the proposal has evolved, how the proposal responds to its context and how it connects with surrounding areas. The applicant will need to demonstrate how issues relating to access to the development have been dealt with. It is likely that large-scale developments or areas which are covered by Area Action Plans (AAP) will take place over a number of years. It will be important to ensure a design strategy is prepared as part of the application or AAP to provide a clear steer for the design of new developments as they are implemented. As design is a major part of creating sustainable communities, it will have an important role with regard to landscape protection, biodiversity, natural resource use, energy efficiency, flood risk and pollution. When considering proposals for future developments, applicants should give close attention to other policies in the Core Strategy covering the natural environment and resource use as part of the design process. The Building Regulations help to ensure that all new dwellings are constructed to mobility standards, taking into account the characteristics of each site. New dwellings should also be built to, or be easily adaptable to, lifetime standards. Lifetime homes incorporate features which make the dwellings easily adaptable to changing family needs and enable everyone to live independently. The council advises developers to consult a specialist in this field, such as the Joseph Rowntree Foundation to discuss development proposals. The government’s Code for Sustainable Homes and Building for Life Criteria provides national standards for the construction industry and incorporates a requirement for new homes to be built to lifetime homes standards. The policy will mainly be implemented through the development control process. Further information and advice on how to design buildings and spaces sustainably will be provided in a Supplementary Planning Document (SPD). This policy aims to support the sustainable development of a vibrant Scunthorpe town centre, Market Towns and other centres in the retail hierarchy at a scale and function proportionate to the standing of the centre. This policy will be implemented through the normal planning process. 12
  13. 13. Dec. 15 Church Square Development Brief Town centre boundaries and primary shopping frontages will be identified through the Housing and Employment Land Allocations DPD. New retail development is an important part of the continued growth in North Lincolnshire. In particular it will have an important role to play in helping to regenerate Scunthorpe town centre. In choosing the location of new retail development, it should be undertaken in line with the sequential test as set out in PPS4, which is as follows: • Existing centres, where the development is appropriate in relation to the role and function of the centre, then • Edge of centre locations, which are well-connected to the existing centre and where the development is appropriate to the role and function of the centre, and then • Out of centre sites that are well serviced by a choice of means of transport. New developments for tourism/leisure related shopping may also be appropriate in other locations where tourism and leisure activities already exist or are proposed. Retail facilities are now recognised as a leisure activity in their own right, and therefore provide an added attraction to leisure and tourism location, increasing the appeal of North Lincolnshire as a tourism and leisure destination. 1This policy aims to support the development of a vibrant Scunthorpe town centre and Market Towns to ensure the development of a balanced evening economy throughout North Lincolnshire. It also seeks to support the continuing development of sustainable tourism in North Lincolnshire by focusing on the area’s natural and built assets. This policy will be implemented through the normal planning process . North Lincolnshire District Council considers that these policies will enable the sound and proper planning of the area. The policies allow for a wide variety of uses, with residential and business uses allowing for a possibly thriving mixed use community. Participation Participation is key to the buy-in of the scheme from the public. Without the public’s support any masterplan or development proposal is likely to fail, in the case of Scunthorpe there is an active social group campaigning in the interests of the people of Scunthorpe called the Scunthorpe Town Team, the “Scunthorpe Development Framework” is one such document which has come out work done by the group. However it is also important to involve shop owners, larger commercial developers, and regular visitors to the area so as to ensure as broad a range of opinions as possible. It is the intention of the council to promote the notion that any design team has an artist embedded within them to help with creatively engaging with the general public. 13
  14. 14. Dec. 15 Church Square Development Brief Once initial proposals are developed, the next stage would be to test these ideas with the general public. As the proposal progresses further talks could be arranged with events held throughout the life of the project to ensure that there is a track record of public involvement. More information about participation techniques can be found at Development Considerations A general description of the site has been provided, alongside a discussion of the site’s location within the built-up area, and its accessibility to local facilities and services The purpose of this section is to identify in more detail those physical characteristics of the site which raise issues which need to be considered alongside the policy requirements set out in the following section. These matters are as follows: • Existing Land Uses; • Flood Risk; • Foul and Surface Water Drainage; • Other Existing Infrastructure; • Contaminated Land; Existing Land Uses As confirmed earlier in the brief, the site is made up of a mix of uses, with business, residential and commercial elements either on site or directly adjacent to it. Any proposed development will have to take this into account when determining the appropriate type of development that it is proposed to replace. LDF policies support a number of uses on the site, but it will be important to consider whether or not the loss of existing businesses etc. in the area will be beneficial or detrimental. Flood Risk Although there is no history of flooding in the area, due to the size of the development area, a Flood Risk Assessment will have to be submitted with all applications in the defined area. Foul and Surface Water Drainage It is considered that any proposed redevelopment of the site, take advantage of advances in Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems (SUDS) and grey water recycling, to help prevent surface water runoff. An example of a SUDS at Upton, Northampton Existing Infrastructure Preliminary investigations show that there are no main gas pipes etc. located on site, other than that which is required to provide infrastructure to the existing buildings on site. 14
  15. 15. Dec. 15 Church Square Development Brief Contaminated Land Although no record of contaminated land has been found in preliminary investigations, the sites history with various industrial buildings etc. being located on or near to the site, would mean that a contaminated land survey would in all likelihood be required. 15
  16. 16. Dec. 15 Church Square Development Brief DEVELOPMENT PROPOSALS The purpose of this section of brief is to set out the broad requirements of any development proposals on site. Accordingly the section draws upon the relevant guidance in the planning policy – existing and emerging. The requirements are presented under the following headings: • Sustainable Development • Housing • Community Facilities • Business/Employment Development • Movement and Accessibility • Water and Hydrology • Public Art & Culture Sustainable Development The need for sustainability to be at the forefront of decision making in the planning process is enshrined at planning policy guidance at all levels. PPS1 and its companion PPS1 – Planning and Climate Change place sustainability at the heart of the planning system. In relation to housing, PPS3 – Housing advises that sustainable development is to be achieved by prioritising housing development on previously developed land, avoiding unnecessary development of ‘greenfield’ land and directing development to sites within the urban area which can contribute to sustainable patterns of development. PPS3 also calls for improvements in housing design and layout, whilst also championing raising building standards to reduce C02 levels. Proposed development on site should give consideration to achieving the highest possible BREEAM rating and in the case of dwellings, Code for Sustainable Homes. It is considered that to help achieve the aims of PPS1 and PPS3 coupled with existing local planning policy that any housing development proposed on the site is built to high standards of the Code for Sustainable Development, coupled with the use of Building for Life and Lifetime Homes Standard. Housing PPS3 states that all housing developments should have a density of at least 30 dwellings per hectare, however in a edge of city centre location, these densities can be increased to as much as 70 – in accordance with local policy. For the purposes of this brief it is recommended that dwellings are proposed to be at a density of no more than 70 dwellings per hectare. Consideration should also be given to matters of layout, design, privacy and the desirability of retaining existing features or spaces on the site. The location of the site on the edge of defined town centre mean that there is significant pressure to boost the density, however it is important to consider the existing character of Scunthorpe when thinking about density and layout. Scunthorpe is characterised by two/three storey buildings and some retail and council buildings which can go up to 6 storeys. Therefore it is considered that there is significant scope to boost the building heights in this area to around 4-6 storeys depending on location. Suggested heights are shown in the map below, however these are not ‘set in stone’ and if a developer believes there are more suitable solutions then the council will actively assess them and there impact. The site also forms part of a gateway into the Scunthorpe town centre and will therefore be highly visible which will have an impact on people’s first impressions, therefore design and layout should be of the highest quality. An important consideration is the lack of a sense of arrival into the centre of Scunthorpe; therefore it is felt that the corner of Brigg Road and Station Road should be an important area of consideration for design teams to address. 16
  17. 17. Dec. 15 Church Square Development Brief Suggested Building Heights The map below shows the suggested building heights for the area, ranging from 2 to 6 stories in height in order to accentuate the sense of arrival into the town centre. 17
  18. 18. Dec. 15 Church Square Development Brief Building Design It is considered that it is extremely important to achieve high quality design on site and it will be essential to push the boundaries of what is normal. Materials wise, it considered that the use of brick or stone is not a pre-requisite and different methods of cladding buildings should be explored in order to differentiate this area from the rest of the town. Recent examples in Sheffield show the willingness to create exceptional development and it is considered that tools such as Building for Life will help create a good well designed development. Any design code that is drawn up for the site, will not specify materials to be used on the site. The council believes it is the responsibility of the developer to choose appropriate materials, as at the end of the day the council retains the ability to refuse proposals that are inappropriate in terms of materials. In terms of massing, scale and height, it is considered appropriate that any proposals attempt to “stitch” back together the town centre in the Victorian character that it was first built. Therefore any proposal should actively consider the use of perimeter blocks and subject to satisfactory service access they should be retained as such with the courtyards ether being used for public space or service yards, as appropriate. Below are some examples of existing contemporary developments: From left to right – Old Post Office, Newcastle, Peckham Library, London and The Forum, Norwich Community Facilities Consideration will be given in terms of existing capacity etc. to see whether or not there is scope for new community facilities in the shape of doctors/dentists or schools/nurseries in the development area. It is noted in the town centre streetscape guide that there is a distinct lack of high quality public open space in the town centre of Scunthorpe. The council would therefore like to see proposals for at least one large area of high quality public open space in the development area, the initial masterplan indicates two areas of high quality public open space, but the council are open to suggestions that will help improve the provision of high quality open spaces in the development brief area. Below are examples of exemplar public open spaces that have been created in recent years in the UK. Picadilly Gardens, Manchester and The Peace Gardens, Sheffield 18
  19. 19. Dec. 15 Church Square Development Brief Business/Employment Development Scunthorpe has a long running association with industry, indeed the majority of the site has in some form or another been part of large scale industrial works in the past. Current planning policy dictates that subject to detailed assessment the development area is suitable for mixed use developments that include workshops. There is considered to be significant scope for the development of a creative industries unit, whereby new creative businesses could rent a flexible amount of space in a purpose built building. Therefore consideration should be given as to the amount, type and mix of business/employment uses and residential development in the area. Movement & Accessibility The entrances to Church Square and thus the Scunthorpe are 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. Places such as Sheffield have a reputation for spectacular improvements to the public realm in the city centre – the council consider that now is time for the main routes into and out of the town centre of Scunthorpe to benefit from the same treatment. Below there are examples from the Sheffield Gold Route a RIBA/RTPI award winning scheme to improve the entrance to the city centre from the train station: Consideration will also be given to opening up more connections across Brigg Road or rationalising the existing ones, which as well as not creating a pleasant pedestrian experience are magnets for anti-social behaviour in the evenings. Ideas to explore involve the creation of surface crossings that minimise the disruption to vehicular traffic on what is an important road. Water & Hydrology Water is used in hotter climates as a microclimate ameliorant. The sound of running water is as much a part of this as the evaporative heat transfer effect. Streets and courtyards can help to accommodate this resource as part of the wider green infrastructure network. Of vital importance in maximising the role of green spaces is the supply of water for irrigation. Native plants are crucial to cooling the local microclimate through evapotranspiration, a role which drought tolerant plants cannot fulfil. However, to survive in future climates native plants will require a supply of water for irrigation. This supply should be planned and integrated at the outset to ensure long term maintenance and optimum operation. In Australia the cooling impact of urban vegetation has been found to reduce building energy consumption by between 7 and 47%, with associated financial savings as well as environmental benefits. 19
  20. 20. Dec. 15 Church Square Development Brief At a detailed and materials scale, designers should seek to: • use porous materials in new surfaces; • use appropriate vegetation that aids drainage, especially in areas that are prone to flooding; and • provide for irrigation to support vegetation’s critical role in cooling the microclimate. The use of water in the Church Square area is considered vital if it is to introduce a new area of public open space. Apart from the environmental benefits, water features have an important role to play in relation to social interaction. Rivers, lakes and existing water features in our towns and cities are always important meeting points for people and draw people to them in warmer weather as a place to sit and relax. As part of a wider water and hydrology strategy, it is expected that the use of SUDS will enable a long term green strategy to be implemented in the area, introducing a variety of fauna rather than isolated trees, such as the Green Streets initiative in Portland, USA shown below: Historic Environment The development brief area contains one building that is considered to be of architectural and historical interest, this being St John’s Church, located in Church Square itself. The current setting of St John’s Church is one that leaves it relatively isolated in its surroundings, the 20-21 Visual Arts Centre extension connects well with what is the only listed building in Scunthorpe Town Centre, but Church Square itself lacks a sense of atmosphere and is too large to function properly as a square. Preliminary investigations has suggested that the notion of ‘framing’ the church in an attempt to entice views of what is Scunthorpe’s most important building, whilst creating an important vista and enticing public spaces, could provide an interesting and innovative design approach to the site. 20
  21. 21. Dec. 15 Church Square Development Brief As the pictures above and below show, the idea of framing the church improves its setting. In the case of Reims Cathderal (as showsn above), all other buildings and public realm is subservient to the cathedral due to its importance. However in the case of the Bullring (below) here we see the buildings around the church dominating it, but in the context of it being framed which enhances its setting. 21
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  23. 23. Dec. 15 Church Square Development Brief Bibliography Documents used in the formulation of this brief: Urban Design Compendium 1 Urban Design Compendium 2 Public Places, Urban Spaces The Urban Design Handbook CABE – The Value of Good Design CABE – Building for Life CABE – Does Money Grow on Trees CABE – The Value Handbook CABE – Paved with Gold, The Real Value of Street Design CABE – Design Coding, Testing it use in England Sheffield City Council – City Centre Masterplan 23