1. Why are you looking to build in this part of Taunton?
Taunton Deane Borough Council needs to build 13,000 new houses across the Borough between 2011-2028 and maintain a rolling five year supply of housing land. The Council undertook extensive investigations to find the most suitable and sustainable locations that could support new housing delivery and identified the area around Staplegrove as one such location. Further details can be found in Taunton Deane’s 2012 adopted Core Strategy.
2. Why are you proposing more than the 500-1500 houses identified in the Core Strategy and the Site Allocations Plan?
The 500-1500 homes range given in the Plans is indicative and not precise subject to further masterplanning through a planning application. The extra 128 homes can easily be accommodated on the site, whilst still leaving approximately half of the site green. The contributions from the developers will help pay for the improved infrastructure that will help make this a quality scheme, such as the open space, play areas, school and spine road.
3. The economic climate has changed since the Core Strategy was adopted and it therefore needs to be updated doesn’t it?
Whilst the local employment figures may be lower than had been forecast in 2012, there still remains an urgent need for new housing and employment land in the area and this development will help relieve this.
Design and Use
4. What kind of housing are you proposing?
There will be a wide range of new homes provided that meet with the demands of the local market including young families, couples and downsizers. The majority of the new homes will be three and four bed houses with a small portion of apartments. A mix of tenures will be provided including private homes, affordable housing and starter homes.
5. Will it be high quality housing and how will it reflect the character of Staplegrove?
Since the very start we have been determined to deliver a high quality scheme, appropriate to this unique location. Staplegrove is a desirable area and therefore the housing demand will dictate that a good quality product is delivered.
A distinctive sense of place will be delivered that has been informed by the surrounding character, including: landscape, heritage, ecology, accessibility, and topography. The design quality will be secured through preparing a Design Code which will be a requirement of the outline planning consent.
6. With up to 1628 houses expected to be built, how will the road network cope?
A huge amount of work has been carried out on this in consultation with the Highway Authority (Somerset County Council) in order to identify a strategy and measures that would accommodate the development. A number of highway improvements have been identified that would improve the local road network:
7. When will the Spine Road be built?
The aim is for the spine road to be built during phase 1, as requested by residents and stakeholders during the consultation events in order to achieve the traffic reduction benefits as soon as possible.
8. What will the impact be on traffic on Corkscrew Lane and Manor Road?
The traffic modelling shows there will be a 62% reduction in traffic coming through Staplegrove after the spine road is complete. This is because the spine Road will provide an alternative route between Silk Mills Roundabout and Kingston Road. A temporary access drop down road is essential for the western site if it is to deliver the spine road in phase 1. This access will enable up to 200 houses to be built on the western site, the sale of which will help to fund the construction of the Spine road. Without this temporary access, there would not be an early revenue stream that could deliver the spine road in phase 1 and would instead not be completed until the end of the development.
9. Why does the western end of the Spine Road not start at Silk Mills roundabout?
The existing Silk Mills roundabout unfortunately does not have enough capacity to accommodate a fourth arm to it which could be used to access this development. In order for the roundabout to do this its size would need to be increased considerably, potentially making it the biggest roundabout in Somerset. This was ruled out at the outset by Somerset County Council. It should also be noted that the Silk Mills roundabout will be overcapacity in the future regardless of whether this development comes forward or not. A long term solution is therefore required which can not only accommodate this development, but also the capacity issues it is currently experiencing. A staggered junction is considered by the Highway Authority as being the best solution to improve traffic flow.
10. When could construction start and how will it last?
It is difficult to say how long the planning process will take but at the very earliest, work on site would probably not start until early 2018. The development will be built in phases and is likely to take up to 10 years to complete.
11. Why is it necessary to build some of the houses before the spine road is completed?
The spine road will be built in Phase 1. In order to do this, and to help meet the high cost of the road (which must be met by the developer), a limited number of homes will need to be built to help fund this work.
12. What is being done to minimise the impact on Corkscrew Lane and Manor Road during construction?
During construction minimising the impact on local roads, particularly Corkscrew Lane and Manor Road, will be a key priority. We will be trying to complete the spine road as quickly as possible so that it can take traffic off the roads but to do this we will also need to open a temporary access off Corkscrew Lane that will be used during the first phase. A number of alternative locations were considered for this access point however this was deemed the best solution.
Construction traffic for the spine road will not be able to use this temporary access road and instead it will be restricted to only those vehicles associated with building the houses in Phase 1. These vehicles will be prevented from using this access road during peak times and a range of traffic management measures are currently being explored with the Highway Authority to prevent construction traffic from travelling through Staplegrove Village. A Construction Environmental Management Plan will be a requirement which will contain details of all of the measures that will be used to manage construction impacts on local roads. This will be consulted on as part of the detailed planning process.
13. How many houses will you be building each year?
We are planning on delivering 100-150 houses per year once the initial infrastructure has been constructed.
Ecology and Landscape
14. You are building on a green field site, how will this affect wildlife?
This has been an ecological and landscape-led scheme and we have worked with some of the leading authorities in this area to ensure that local ecology and wildlife habitats are protected and wherever possible enhanced. In addition, extensive consultation has been carried out with Natural England, the Local Council and County Council to ensure impacts on wildlife are minimised and appropriate enhancement measures put in place.
Much of the historic parkland will be reinstated. There will be approximately 15 hectares of tree planting and wide buffer zones of native planting around the site's boundary providing a rich resource for local wildlife, including foraging bats. In addition, a range of new habitats will be created including allotments and public orchards.
The strategy will also include the provision of two new bat roosts, bat and bird boxes; measures to protect nesting birds, badgers, great crested newts and dormice; the protection and management of hedgerows and provision of extensive green corridors; the management of new attenuation ponds to partly benefit wildlife; and the design of a sensitive lighting scheme in key areas.
15. Why has the size of green wedge been reduced from the width set out in the Site Allocations Plan?
The green wedge shown in the Core Strategy and the Site Allocations Plan provided an indicative boundary. The green wedge proposed in the masterplan would be wide enough to serve its purpose, which is to split areas and provide green open space. It would offer the opportunity for homes at the edge of the green wedge to overlook and interact with the green open space areas. It would also ensure that children are safer when playing as they can be seen.
16. How will you manage the risk of flooding?
Managing downstream flood risk is a fundamental part of planning policy requirements for developments. Typically there is a requirement to demonstrate that post development surface water runoff is not increased when compared with the existing ‘green field’ situation.
Within Taunton Deane, as a result of the high profile flooding in Somerset in recent years, the policy requirements are reinforced with a requirement to reduce surface water runoff significantly below the existing situation (to 2l/s/ha). By restricting the off-site discharge of surface water, the local flood risk in the area and further downstream is reduced because water is ‘held back’ within the development reducing flows within local watercourses and local drainage networks during heavy rainfall events.
This will be achieved by careful drainage directing water into several ‘attenuation ponds,’ which are typically depressions with low flow channels within green open space that fill up during extreme flood conditions. The design of the attenuation ponds would be undertaken to provide ecological and amenity benefits to the development and local community. Therefore, even though there will be houses on the site, there will be a better system for management in a flood event than there is now.
Local Services and the Employment Space
17. What will the impact be on schools?
The development would be very positive for local education provision and has the support of local service provides including Taunton Deane Academy and Stepping Stones Nursery. It includes a new 420 capacity primary school in the eastern site that will open during Phase 2. The local secondary school, Taunton Academy is running at just over half capacity and has room for a further 500-600 more students. The increase in new student numbers will bring very welcome investment and resource to the Academy.
18. What is likely to be included in the local centre and when will it be opened?
The local centre will be delivered in Phase 2 of the eastern site. The local centre will comprise of a variety of facilities. It is likely to include a convenience store along with a number of smaller retail units such as a café, hairdresser and a take away.
19. What employment opportunities will be created?
The proposed developments (east and west) include 2 hectares of employment land for offices or workshops for example. This would bring new employment opportunities to the area and help reduce traffic on the roads. In addition, a significant number of new jobs would be created during the construction phase and supply chain. Over time the additional household spend from the increased number of local households will be ploughed back into the local economy through local shops, services and businesses.
20. What financial benefits will the development be providing?
The area will receive:
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