|Proposed development at Deanslade Farm by Taylor Wimpey|
|Response by Lichfield Civic Society|
Question 1: Do you support the proposals for Deanslade Farm, Lichfield?
Supported with reservations.
A number of elements within the proposals need to be clarified and/or augmented and/or expanded. Additionally, the proposals will need to be delivered comprehensively, in phase and in line with the proposals as put forward (but subject to the reservations referred to in this submission).
Question 2: How would you like to use the proposed countryside park?
This area needs to be more accurately and properly labelled "public open space". It should provide a range of well maintained open space facilities in a landscaped setting; and it should remain with public access guaranteed in perpetuity. Arrangements to ensure this is brought about are fundamental requirements.
Concerning layout and uses we consider because of the visual importance of this area particularly views of the City from Harehurst Hill it should remain predominantly open with grassland walks and picnic areas.
Question 3: The Community areas can include the following uses: community orchard; allotments; community garden. Are there any other uses you would like to see provided in this area?
As above at Question 2.
Question 4: Do you consider there are any other impacts from these proposals which have not been identified in this exhibition?
Various additional impacts of these proposals need addressing, as follows:
To cater for vehicular traffic from the development, there is the need for a contribution to the provision and completion of the Lichfield Southern Bypass from Birmingham Road beneath the railway to connect with the committed section of road across the St John's (South of Lichfield SDA) site.
There is a need for contribution/provision of direct and safe footpaths and cycleway between the site and the City Centre, the education sites serving the area (especially secondary schools), the bus and train station and the employment sites within the City.
There is a need for early provision of a direct and safe footpath and cycleway connections between the Deanslade Farm and St John's development areas. This should include both the footpath/cycle routes illustrated in the Access and Movement exhibition plan.
Car parking provision, highway widths and design should avoid the problems experienced on Darwin Park. Car parking spaces should be provided within the curtilage of individual properties or immediately nearby. Courtyard car parking should be avoided. Garages should be wide enough to allow vehicles to be parked in them.
There is a need for an effective joined up approach to the planning and provision of community and social facilities for the three adjoining SDA sites in the City and adjoining developments.
The site layout should ensure that building orientation of houses facilitates the best living conditions for residents and the benefits of energy saving. The Development Brief for Darwin Park stated that "The use of south-facing orientations will be optimised to achieve benefits of passive solar gain" but from the start of development this was not implemented.
The ceiling figure for number of housing units derived from the Adopted Local Plan needs to be adhered to, particularly since it is noted that the area of land containing Deanslade Farm and its surrounds have been omitted from these proposals, despite them retaining the Local Plan figure for the lesser area of land. This approach needs to be re-considered.
Sensitive, well designed commercial development is vital for the scheme to the east of Birmingham Road, with an emphasis on smaller scale development and B1 offices rather than inappropriate B2 and B8 uses.
Related to this, the commercial development area will require provision of substantial and effective landscaping along the frontages to Birmingham Road and the Bypass.
Overall there is the need for high quality and sensitive treatment as a priority along "the gateway routes" into the City, such as Birmingham Road. In this context the proposed landscaped edge towards Birmingham Road is welcomed. Retention of the existing hedging along this road is highly desirable.
Clarification is necessary regarding a verbal statement by your representative at the Exhibition of the possibility that only one primary school could serve Deanslade Farm, St John's and Darwin Park sites. If this is confirmed as the latest situation, the implications for the sites involved and the accessibility and circulation implications require urgent re-appraisal. We consider that the Deanslade Farm site is potentially the best location for a single school. Adequate car parking proviso should be made for the school to minimise congestion and improve safety.
Question 5: Are there any other features that you would wish to see incorporated into the proposals?
As above in Question 4.
Question 6: Do you have any other comments about these proposals?
Decisions regarding the long term ownership, control and maintenance of all the public open spaces and play areas within the development area is vital, and mechanisms must be found to ensure these function successfully in perpetuity.
The Council's Statement of Community Involvement of April 2006 in paragraph 8.20 states the following: "Consultation on major housing developments granted outline permission - on major housing developments where outline permission is granted the Council will encourage the establishment of appropriate consultation and liaison arrangements with developers and representatives from resident's associations/neighbours. This will enable ongoing consultation and communication on issues such as detailed proposals, changes in phasing, delays in implementation of infrastructure, community facilities etc." For the Darwin Park development a joint meeting between planning officers, ward councillors, the developer and local residents' representatives provided an effective forum for communication and addressing some of the issues mentioned below. Similar arrangements should be put in place for this development.
Issues and problems arose during the development of Darwin Park, many of which related to the performance of Taylor Wimpey/Taylor Woodrow/Bryant Homes Central as the lead developer in the Walsall Road consortium. A sound Development Brief was approved by the Council in 1999 which together with the planning consent and section 106 agreement created commitments and legal obligations. The actual delivery did not in a number of important respects follow the Development Brief or the legal obligations.
Lessons need to be learnt from the Darwin Park development and steps taken to ensure the company puts in place design and delivery arrangements to avoid repetition of such problems with the Deanslade Farm project. Some of the many specific issues and problems that occurred in Darwin Park are listed below:
Removal of trees and hedgerows in breach of the planning condition to obtain consent.
The Development Brief indicated it would "provide for 'permeability' through a good network of footpaths and cycleways throughout the development". This has not been achieved and there has been a failure to provide a network of proper walking routes through and out of the development. The usefulness of cycle routes within new developments is diminished because of a lack of continuity in connections to the City centre and limited bicycle parking facilities in the City centre.
The Development Brief also indicated it would "ensure good footpath and cycleway connections to existing parts of Lichfield" There was however a serious failure to make provision to upgrade existing public footpaths to a standard suitable for use by residents of the new housing. The former rural paths were not sufficiently wide, properly surfaced or provided with lighting to meet the needs of residents trying to walk from the development into the City centre or take children to school. This included absence of a proper connection between Cathedral Walk and Friary Road where the pre- existing footpath was susceptible to regular flooding, only accessible over a stile and insufficiently wide for prams and pushchairs. This particular problem was eventually resolved by District Council using section 106 monies to acquire land and create a direct connection.
There were also problems on three other routes:
Taylor Woodrow (now Taylor Wimpey) did surface part of the original route of Footpath 36 and a newly created diversion to replace the section of public footpath that ran across the former cricket ground. The section across the cricket ground was closed illegally by the Company without consent from the County Council. No one is currently responsible for the ongoing maintenance of the remaining section of the original route of the footpath. Nor has Taylor Wimpey accepted ongoing responsibility for the diverted length they created without consent.
A planning condition in the 2004 permission to provide cycleway connections on Friary Road before proceeding beyond 650 houses was breached and late provision of associated Toucan pedestrian crossings caused safety problems. Implementation of a condition with the same trigger point regarding provision of bus shelters has been also been much delayed.
Serious delays in the provision of usable public open space play areas and equipment. This resulted in children living on the site playing in areas totally unsuitable for safe play. The delayed installation of the MUGA in an inappropriate location resulted in the need to relocate it and prolonged consideration of an alternative site.
Use of highway design standards and car parking provision that has caused significant problems to residents and to bus and emergency services trying to access or pass through the site. Courtyard parking away from residents homes are not well used. Instead residents park on the streets. Extracts below from the "Manual on Streets" research for the Department of Transport highlight parking and safety concerns of Darwin Park residents.
Delayed adoption of public highways and footpaths. This has prevented any measures to be taken to control on-street car parking. Adoption of most highways and footpaths within the site has been delayed well over 10 years after commencement of development. Delayed adoption of public sewers has impacted upon highway adoption.
Serious delays in construction of the railway line under bridge for the Lichfield Southern Bypass.
Insufficient additional primary school places have been provided. Laying out, maintenance and adoption of public open space (POS) completely ignored the section 106 obligations entered into about adoption. The POS was required to be laid out in the planting season following the completion of 50% of each of the defined phases of development within which it was located. POS adoption has taken some 10-15 years later than it should have done.
The Manual for Streets: Evidence and research TRL Report No. 661
Darwin Park was included in a survey by the Transport Research Laboratory for the Traffic Management Division of the Department for Transport published in 2007; (ISBN 1-84608-660-4).
The following is a selection from the report that specifically relates to Darwin Park:
Lichfield had the second highest return of respondents to the survey. 100% of Darwin Park residents experienced problems with vehicles parked outside their home 'a lot of the time' and 'sometimes'. Darwin Park had the second-highest level of concern at 72% of the respondents concerning parked vehicles. Residents in Lichfield also showed the most concern about vehicles parked and obstructing footways. The issues of respondents concerning parking related to access, safety and aesthetics.
Parking was identified as the main culprit in restricting access to streets. One resident said "Access to my drive is often affected by cars parked on the street" (Lichfield resident).
'Many old houses with single frontages own 2 or 3 cars, so they have to park in front of someone else's house' (Lichfield resident).
School traffic is a particular issue:
'School run parking causes double parking, pavement parking and blocks driveways' (Lichfield resident).
'School run mindless parking' (Lichfield resident).
'Parking is provided away from road to improve aesthetics. Of course people don't use it and park on the narrow street. This is ridiculous, people want to park near the door, especially when they have kids/shopping/elderly. Improving aesthetics has caused the problem in our street' (Lichfield resident).
9.4 Road safety
Residents generally considered that road safety was the main aspect of concern within their neighbourhood. The questionnaire explored the underlying reasons for these concerns. One of the key issues that arose was traffic speed in the residential area, and over half (52.8%) of respondents claimed to be either 'very' or 'quite' concerned about speeds when asked about road and personal safety issues in their street.
In New Town, Reading, this was of particular concern: 80% of respondents were either 'very' or 'quite' concerned about vehicle speeds. Other sites where higher percentages of respondents indicated concern over high vehicle speeds include:
+ Eastleigh (77.8% of respondents concerned)
'My daughter was riding her bike on the pavement and a car reversed out of the drive and did not see her' (Lichfield resident).
'Pavement on both sides is grassed, therefore people tend to walk in the middle of the road, which is very unsafe' (Lichfield resident).
9.8 Summary of household survey findings
Specific case study sites that stand out are New Town, Eastleigh and Lichfield. Respondents from these sites considered them to be consistently unsafe, showing concerns over vehicle speeds, the number of vehicles in their street, the lack of footways, the lack of cycle paths, the lack of visibility for drivers and the lack of visibility for pedestrians. Both adults and children were considered to be unsafe at these sites as a result of road traffic. Parking and the resultant safety issues were also major concerns for a high proportion of respondents at these sites.
B.1.8 Darwin Park, Lichfield
+ Suburban area situated less than 2 miles south of Lichfield city centre, near to M6 toll road.