Mr Like Webb
Dear Mr Webb,
Preliminary Proposed Masterplan for Land off Cricket Lane, Lichfield
The Society welcomes the opportunity to comment on the plan at this stage and hopes that our comments will contribute to the final application. Members of the Civic Society Committee attended the relaunch of your exhibition at The Guildhall setting out the outline preliminary proposals for Cricket Lane. We noted that there had been no changes since your earlier consultation. Hence our comments are broadly similar to those made earlier with the addition of comments related to ecological factors. Whilst noting the circumstances which gave rise to this repeat consultation, we are disappointed that you have not been able to move the design forward at all over the past three months, taking into account the comments made earlier.
Since our earlier comments the Lichfield City Council has recently published for consultation a Neighbourhood Plan. The Society has not yet had the opportunity agree our response to the Plan. We do however consider that if the approach embodied in the draft is adopted that it will impact upon the Cricket Lane development in several aspects. In particular it would constrain the type of development that is to be provided on the commercial part of the allocated site. As set out below we remain convinced that on this sensitive "gateway" site the whole area of commercial element should be more appropriate for B.1. office use than industry or warehousing.
Additionally, and for the same reason, all commercial buildings should be restricted in scale and height. To assist this, the site development should be restricted to B1 office use (along the lines of the Lichfield South site on Birmingham Road). The current proposal for B2 (industry) and B8 (warehousing) is completely inappropriate, since this 'gateway' location should be of high quality. Should industrial or warehousing uses be provided then the site layout should ensure that the relationship with residential properties is such that hours of working, noise, dust, odours, vehicle deliveries or movements and artificial lighting is not intrusive or a nuisance.
Your staff commented at the exhibition that the employment element was the responsibility of St Modwen Properties, leaving a large void in the plans for consultation. We view this approach as totally inappropriate. The site should be planned as a coherent whole, not as two different, non-associated entities. This flies in the face of planning principles and must be condemned on such an important gateway site. Lichfield rightly prides itself as an attractive location in which to live and work. It will not benefit from ill thought out schemes at one of its major entrances.
As mentioned in our earlier letter, the accessible open space corridor between the employment allocation and residential allocation should be sufficiently wide to ensure effective separation of these allocations and encourage usage by the public. The current width appears insufficient and also significantly less than indicated on the layout plan in the SDA Concept Statement. Within the commercial allocation there should also be a landscaping belt to screen the development and enhance the physical separation from the residential properties. Similar issues of separation and screening apply to the single residential property fronting onto London Road which is to be surrounded by the commercial site. Additionally, the landscape screening on the London Road frontage, particularly north of the proposed access, is completely inadequate and needs to be enhanced.
In relation to traffic movements from the business area, all HGVs should be prevented from turning right from the site towards the City Centre by condition and / or appropriate agreement, both during construction and operation.
We had previously stressed that fully detailed road layout proposals for both London Road / Cricket Lane junction and Tamworth Road / Cricket Lane junction, if it is to remain, need to be considered at the same time as the development proposals. We are disappointed that you saw fit to reconsult with these proposals undeveloped, since they are crucial to the amenity and convenience of residents and all road users.
A much firmer statement / commitment needs to be made on the provision of safe and direct footpath and cycleway connections beyond the site to all relevant destinations. Of concern here is the current notion that there is adequate space for the provision of a cycle lane that is safe to use within the existing carriageway of St John Street and London Road.
The area of accessible open space alongside the A38 and including the sports pitches should be of a sufficient width to ensure that traffic noise is not unacceptable in the residential properties and their gardens. In this respect the adoption of a corridor of sufficient width using a noise assessment is needed. This was the procedure carried out on the Boley Park Development in relation to the A38. Legally binding obligations are needed ensuring that the landscaped areas, as well as all open space, play areas and allotments, will remain and be maintained as such.
We note that the number of dwelling proposed in the current layout at 500 exceeds the allocation of 450 in the Local Plan. Increasing the width of accessible open space corridor between the employment allocation and residential allocation may result in a reduction of the numbers to be built. If it is necessary to increase the width of open space area on the boundary with A38 this may also impact upon the number of dwellings.
The following comments concentrate on the plan's ecological factors grouped under the following headings of orientation, energy conservation and reclamation, solar harvesting and precipitation run-off.
The Society notes that the developers have adopted a somewhat different programme in their road plan from what has been thought usual for many decades i.e. it is broadly based on a grid pattern. This was most commonly rigorously applied during the nineteenth century in dense urban environments that consequently became discredited by their association with the harmful effects of industrialisation and a more informal regime of curving 'Garden City' layouts were generally adopted in the twentieth century.
The developers have in turn reverted to employing a modified grid but failed to fully realise the advantages this presents, mainly due to the general orientation of the road map which is canted towards the north/north west rather than east/west. Ideally all houses should face due south so as to maximise heat and light day-long to frontages, but this is practicable in only a proportion of the buildings as drawn. The general expedient is to face most houses due east or west so that they glean the optimum benefit. A rough calculation of the scheme as presented suggests that at least 31 houses and 11 housing rows face N, NNW, NW, NNE and NE which implies a need to rethink the road plan. There should be some freedom for a limited flexibility to vary the road lines away from being ruler straight however.
Energy Conservation and Reclamation.
The Society has welcomed recent attempts to conserve energy in new build schemes and has made a suitable award. It is to be hoped that all strategies will be adopted by the proposers to ensure that the insulation of the homes will be to Passive House standards with the associated heat reclamation procedures.
The Society feels that the orientation of scheme will provide the opportunity to install Photo Voltaic cells on all relevant roofs within the development.
Special attempts should be incorporated into the scheme to secure pervious ground surfaces wherever appropriate to limit runoff.
If you discuss any of these matters, we are very happy to do so.