stevenage.gov.uk
District Plan

Chapter 12: Stevenage West

12.1 INTRODUCTION

12.1.1 The Structure Plan Review approved in 1998 (the Structure Plan) proposes development West of the A1(M) at Stevenage. This location was selected and defended by the County Council at the Examination in Public as being one of the best in Hertfordshire to meet the principles and criteria for sustainable development. The site is accommodated within a broad location north of Langley and Newton Wood, east of the B656 and south of St Ippolyts, with the urban boundary defined so as to preclude coalescence with nearby settlements (Structure Plan Policy 5). The Structure Plan proposal relates to the administrative areas of Stevenage and North Hertfordshire, so the planning of the development is being brought forward through the review of both the Stevenage and North Hertfordshire Local Plans.

12.1.2 The development is unique in several ways. It is the first location for strategic housing development in Hertfordshire selected on current concepts of sustainability and it will be the first development to be designed on these sustainable principles. It is located in two local authority areas and will need two local plans’ policies relating to the development to be co-ordinated to ensure consistency between the policies.

12.1.3 Not all the policies and proposals relating to this development will be in the Stevenage District Plan. Those relating only to land within the North Hertfordshire administrative area will be in the North Hertfordshire Local Plan as legally neither Local Plan can include policies which refer to another area.

12.1.4 Since the Structure Plan has been adopted, the Borough Council wishes to ensure that the development is well planned and sustainable, and to limit the environmental impact upon the area. There has been joint working with the County Council, North Hertfordshire District Council, developers and the public to set out visionary aims and objectives.

12.1.5 This Plan defines aims and objectives for the development, identifies essential requirements for it, and indicates what aspects will need to be addressed by planning applications, planning conditions, and possible planning obligations in Section 106 agreements.

12.1.6 For this development many of the aims, objectives and policies in the rest of this Plan are relevant. This chapter deals with the specific issues related to this large development. This development offers the opportunity to create an urban environment of a much higher quality than has been generally achieved in the recent past. The Borough Council considers that it is essential to provide a proper planning framework through this Plan. This will guide not only the general aims for the development but also the detailed planning and design needed at later stages in the process.

12.1.7 The framework must include a master plan, as required by the Structure Plan. As part of this, a number of strategies will be needed to develop objectives for planning and future management prior to considering individual proposals. Strategies will need to cover landscape, nature conservation, archaeology, design guidance, infrastructure, transport and the provision of facilities. A Master Plan will be required as part of any outline planning applications. The scale of development means that an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) will need to be submitted with the planning application.

12.1.8 The master plan may be reviewed as later phases of the development are proposed, in negotiation with developers, prior to approval by the Councils. This will be as a result of experience during the first construction phases and from a growing understanding and acceptance of new ways of achieving sustainable development.

12.2 CONTEXT

12.2.1 The Structure Plan proposes for the development:
(a) a roll back of the Green Belt to take account of the long term possibility of a total development of 10,000 dwellings; and
(b) the development of 3,600 dwellings by 2011, ( indicating 2,600 dwellings in North Hertfordshire and 1,000 dwellings in Stevenage, but this may alter as a result of agreed master planning work); and
(c) a master plan for an initial phase of 5,000 dwellings, some of which is to be completed after 2011, and in the longer term, a possible second phase of a further phase of 5,000 dwellings.

12.2.2 The Structure Plan proposal relates to the administrative areas of Stevenage and North Hertfordshire. However, each Council can legally only adopt a Local Plan relating to its own area. As a result of joint working, common policy aims were developed for both Local Plans, although North Hertfordshire District Council withdrew their District Local Plan No.3 on 20 December 2000.

12.3 OBJECTIVES

12.3.1 Arising from public participation and joint working, the Councils have identified specific objectives for the development. These are to:
(a) create an innovative and easy-to-use transport network, primarily for passenger transport, cycling and walking but also with provision for horse riding;
(b) plan land use patterns which;

(c) provide housing for a wide range of residents (e.g. sizes, tenures, affordability, internal and external design, and access to services and facilities), forming a new community and be attractive, create a sense of place, and minimise long term energy and resource consumption;
(d) provide for a wide range of businesses to enable people to live locally, including home-working and services, and broaden job opportunities;
(e) provide easily accessible services and facilities for the future community for social, health, leisure and other personal needs;
(f) protect, enhance and integrate natural landscape, historic and wildlife features to achieve a sustainable community with long term environmental benefits; and
balance new development with existing and proposed natural features (including woodlands and open spaces) and result in attractive environments within the area and when seen from outside it.
make efficient use of energy resources in the construction of the development and in its land use pattern, urban form and building design.

12.4 THE DEVELOPMENT AREA

12.4.1 Many of the general policies of the rest of this Plan apply to the development. Specifically, the extent of the Green Belt roll back is referred to in the Town Wide chapter and is shown on the Proposals Map. Policy H2 and the Proposals Map identify and allocate land for approximately 1,000 of the 3,600 dwellings that Policy 8 of the Structure Plan states are to be built by 2011.

POLICY SW1: DEVELOPMENT AREA

The development area within Stevenage is identified on the proposals map for about 1,000 dwellings and associated development in accordance with the policies of the development plan.

Policy H2

12.5 MASTER PLAN

12.5.1 The way development proceeds will depend upon the area’s environmental characteristics and the practical needs of a new settlement. A community needs the supplies of water and energy, facilities and services suitable for living in the twenty first century, and for sustainability in terms of resource use and waste. These and many other elements must be brought together in the process of settlement planning to produce a master plan with supporting development principles and design guide. The master plan for Stevenage West will be for 5,000 dwellings but it must have regard to development which may proceed to a total of 10,000 dwellings within the area defined by the inner Green Belt boundary. When a master plan is submitted as part of any outline planning application it will be available for public consultation before it is determined.

12.5.2 The Borough Council has prepared, jointly with North Hertfordshire District Council and Hertfordshire County Council, a masterplanning principles document for the Stevenage West development. This provides a blueprint for the development and sets out what it should aspire to and what the overall philosophy should be in respect of layout, design, balance and mix of uses, etc. The masterplanning principles, which have been adopted by the Borough Council as Supplementary Planning Guidance, provide further advice and guidance of the Borough Council’s expectations for the development and any master plans submitted should take these into account.

POLICY SW2: MASTER PLAN

A master plan for 5,000 dwellings and associated land uses must be submitted as part of an outline planning application. The master plan must be approved prior to the submission of detailed development proposals for the site.

The master plan should:

(a) demonstrate how it achieves the sustainable development and planning aims and objectives set out within the relevant development plan and supplementary planning guidance; and
(b) indicate the area of land, layout and structure of development for both 3,600 dwellings and 5,000 dwellings and associated land uses; and
(c) indicate how development could proceed beyond 5,000 dwellings; and
(d) show the transport access points, road, cycleway, footpath and bridleway networks; and
(e) show the main local centre and other local centres, and the relationships between housing areas and other land uses; and
(f) identify how the development should be phased including the relationships between housing and community services, facilities and infrastructure; and
(g) be based upon and accompanied by strategies for transport, nature conservation, water, energy use, waste, landscape, leisure, archaeology, and historic features ; and
(h) be based upon and accompanied by a development principles and design guide; and
(i) Take account of the masterplanning principles as set out in supplementary planning guidance.

12.6 PLANNING REQUIREMENTS

12.6.1 This Plan identifies essential requirements for the development, and indicates what aspects will need to be addressed by any proposal, including planning conditions and possible planning obligations, through a Section 106 agreement. Negotiations with developers will have regard to all relevant development plan policies, national standards and local needs. The Structure Plan states that the development will be required to make provision for environmental works, infrastructure and community facilities, services and other requirements for a sustainable development that are directly related to it and necessary to the granting of planning permission. It also stipulates that developers will be required to provide or contribute to the cost of all such provision that is fairly and reasonably related in scale and kind to the proposed development, including off-site impacts.

12.6.2 The Borough Council wishes to ensure that sufficient control can be exercised to safeguard the environment and amenities of a wider area than these proposals. Developments often have effects that have a wider impact than the particular site. There may be additional pressure on existing local facilities resulting from it. These will need to be addressed as appropriate however planning requirements should not be required to solve existing deficiencies. The Borough Council wishes to ensure the appropriate environmental features are protected and maintained for future generations; policy SW10 addresses these issues in more detail.

12.6.3 The Borough Council considers that it is essential that the infrastructure and facilities for each area of the development should be provided for the benefit of occupants as they move into their homes. The phasing of the development is required to ensure that the provision of infrastructure is provided at the appropriate stages of the development.

POLICY SW3: PLANNING REQUIREMENTS

The sustainable development and planning aims and objectives of this plan should be achieved by proposals which meet the following planning requirements:

(a) provide infrastructure, services and facilities, whether on or off site, which serve the development and ensure their future operation; and
Provide access arrangements which optimise the locational advantages of the development in relation to Stevenage’s town centre, leisure facilities, employment areas and railway station and encourage the use of sustainable transport modes; and
(c) provide facilities for social, leisure, education, health and community in accordance with a programme to serve future residents and visitors within the development; and
(d) protect, and provide management guidelines for areas and features of open space, landscape, archaeological and nature conservation interest, on or adjacent to the development or master plan areas materially affected by the development, where this is identified as part of the master plan; and
(e) where necessary, provide land within the master plan area for existing uses to the east of the a1(m) which are displaced by the needs of the development; and
(f) provide affordable housing in accordance with an up-to-date housing needs survey and a mix of housing in terms of density, size and tenure; and
(g) provide, and where appropriate contribute to the cost of, infrastructure, services and facilities and their maintenance, which are necessary to the granting of planning permission, whether on or off site; and
(h) identify a phased programme for providing the planning requirements set out in this policy to be agreed in advance with the planning authority and to be linked to specific milestones in the implementation of the master plan; and
(i) other requirements arising from the master plan.

12.7 DESIGN

12.7.1 The Borough Council anticipates that design ideas will change over time; indeed it will encourage variety and improvements as long as the resulting design can be seen as coherent and attractive. The aim will be to achieve sensitive and good design that creates attractive and safe places for people. Proposals should avoid both repetition and uniformity of design on the one hand, and unco-ordinated mixtures of building styles and types on the other. This development provides the opportunity for attractive and modern design solutions compatible with today’s social, technological and economic conditions. Therefore, the Borough Council will seek a design approach which encourages participation from potential residents and maximises the opportunity of ensuring the highest standards of architecture and well-serviced buildings. As ideas evolve, the design approach will need to be modified.

12.7.2 The Borough Council is working, jointly with North Hertfordshire District Council and Hertfordshire County Council, to prepare a design development principles document to provide design guidance for the Stevenage West development. When this document is formally adopted as supplementary planning guidance then any development proposals should reflect both the design development principles and the masterplanning principles. Until the design development principles are adopted then, to achieve a high quality environment for the development, the Borough Council requires a development principles and design guide to be prepared and submitted with any master plan to reflect government design guidance and the masterplanning principles. This should indicate the development principles and design approaches appropriate to different areas of the master plan, and include functional and servicing expectations. The development principles and design guide will be expected to address urban form and layout and landscape aspects, within the future built area, related semi-natural areas and the relationship with the countryside. The guide, once agreed, will be the basis for identifying the requirement for design briefs for specific areas of the master plan. Included in this will be issues dealing with security (including CCTV), access for disabled people, and energy efficiency.

12.7.3 The development principles and design guide should provide an element of coherence, and will need to be reviewed from time to time. Design briefs will be prepared by developers as part of particular area proposals as the development progresses.

POLICY SW4: DESIGN GUIDANCE

Development proposals will be based on an approved development principles and design guide, to be submitted with a master plan. These will provide the design approach to be applied to detailed design briefs to be prepared for individual development phases of the site.

12.8 TRANSPORT

12.8.1 The Structure Plan identifies that access to the strategic development would be by crossings of the A1(M), from the existing Stevenage transport networks. Access should not be by direct links to the A1(M) or, in the Council’s opinion, to the B656 although this is outside the Borough’s administrative area. The Transport chapter of this plan sets out the requirements for new development in terms of provision for transport and its implications. The transport aspects of the new development will need to integrate with the existing rail, road, cycle and pedestrian networks and facilities. As part of any proposal, necessary modifications to the existing transport networks and services will be expected to be undertaken, funded or contributed to by the developer.

12.8.2 Proposals for sustainable transport will need to meet the needs of future residents and workers, as well as addressing environmental consequences, and seek to make the use of passenger transport, cycling and walking more attractive than the use of private motorised transport. The need to provide greater emphasis on passenger transport and other non-car transport modes to make them more viable and deciding how and where to discourage car use will have a major impact on the internal layout of the development. Measures outside the site boundary to help promote sustainability will be required. The broad aspects should be covered in the transport strategy, as part of the master plan. The detailed measures for achieving the sustainable transport aims should be indicated in the master plan, and the Environmental Impact Assessment. These measures will be reflected, in subsequent detailed proposals. The master plan will also need to address accessibility to and from all the various land uses within the proposed development area and key facilities within Stevenage.

12.8.3 The Borough Council will expect proposals to contain many different means of reducing the use of private motorised transport, particularly at peak periods. The proposals should generally reduce the need to travel and also encourage ways of increasing walking, cycling and use of passenger transport. Measures should not only provide for an attractive passenger transport system within the proposed development area, having regard to the possible future size of the development, but also enable future residents and workers to utilise existing bus and rail services in Stevenage. The transport strategy should demonstrate how this could be achieved, including the possibility of innovative measures for passenger transport and for enhancing existing links with the bus and railway services and facilities. Examples of innovation could be: the setting up of a web site for the new community so that real time time-tabling can be accessed; provision of solar powered bus shelters; provision of real time information displays at bus shelters; the use of rising bollards at crossings or providing different ticket options such as smart cards or combined bus / rail tickets.

POLICY SW5: TRANSPORT PRINCIPLES

Development proposals will be guided by sustainable development aims and a transport strategy, submitted with the master plan, which will be based upon the following principles:

(a) Points of access
(i) Must be directed across the A1(m) into the Stevenage Borough road, cycleway and pedestrian networks;
(ii) for safety reasons, consist of a minimum of two all purpose access points; and
(b) providing measures within the development, to and from the wider area, that are aimed at reducing reliance on use of the private car by making walking, cycling and public transport more attractive, including the principle of shared space; and
(c) proposals within and beyond the potential development area must meet the transport needs of 5,000 dwellings without prejudicing those of a possible total of 10,000 dwellings; and
(d) measures must provide for the needs of emergency vehicles; and
(e) infrastructure and facilities must enable and encourage a sustainable transport system, including the possible provision of innovative passenger transport measures, easily accessible information, high quality services and environments; and
(f) improvements to existing transport networks will be required to cater for the additional movement generated by future development without unacceptable detriment to existing users or nearby residents; and
(g) expansion of the existing rail/bus interchange facilities will be needed to complement the additional measures for passenger transport trips arising from the new development; and
(h) a transport modelling approach is essential to project passenger and traffic flows on the existing transport networks and so inform the necessary improvements to achieve the sustainable development aims of the development.

12.8.4 The impact that this development has on the function of the existing transport network is a crucial factor. The Borough Council will expect transport strategies which place an emphasis on:

containing trips within the development; and
challenging the dominance of private motorised transport; and
reducing the modal share currently enjoyed by the private car; and
catering for the traffic generated by the development.

12.8.5 The development will have a material effect on some areas of the existing transport network. It is, therefore, necessary to appraise how the transport network operates in the Stevenage area. This will determine what improvements are necessary to accommodate additional trips arising from the development taking into account the need to balance the requirements of all transport users. A balance of infrastructure improvements together with enhancements to passenger transport, cycle and pedestrian routes will be required to accommodate trips generated by the development. Highway improvements may be required in the future to ensure the high levels of accessibility that the town currently enjoys.

POLICY SW6: IMPROVEMENTS TO TRANSPORT INFRASTRUCTURE

Improvements will be required to the existing transport networks and facilities to cater for trips generated by the development. This may involve a range of transport infrastructure improvements and enhancing and giving priority to passenger transport, cycle and pedestrian routes.

12.8.6 A number of locations for crossing the A1(M) are being considered. Existing corridors already provide access from Gunnels Wood Road up to, or across, the A1(M) at Six Hills Way; Bessemer Drive; Meadway; and Symonds/Todds Green. Some of the existing accesses are currently only used by pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders with limited potential for vehicles. Such accesses will, therefore, require upgrading or replacing depending upon the type and scale of the access required. The number of access points and the preferred combination will be determined as a result of the transport modelling process and decisions about how to achieve a ‘sustainable’ transport system. However, it is considered necessary that two access points should be spread to service the north, centre and south of this large site. This major urban extension will provide a townscape of the highest quality and it is desirable that the new accesses should provide equally high visual quality approaches, particularly the principal access point. Also the principal access point should be closely related to the main new neighbourhood centre. One or more points may be used exclusively for passenger transport and emergency vehicles.

POLICY SW7: POTENTIAL USE OF EXISTING A1(M) CROSSINGS

The existing crossings of the A1(M) to the west of Stevenage are shown on the proposals map as possible transport accesses. A minimum of two access points will be required for the first 5,000 dwellings. For each of these crossings, the potential use and improvements are as follows:

(a) Six Hills Way - access corridor to gunnels wood road may require improvements to the underpass, carriageway and junctions. The scale of highway improvements would depend upon whether it remains cycleway and pedestrian access only, developed to include access for passenger transport and emergency vehicles or required for both public and private transport;
(b) Bessemer Drive - access corridor to gunnels wood road may require improvements to the carriage way and junctions. Limited junction improvements would be needed if used solely for cycle, pedestrian, equestrian and emergency vehicle access. Highway and major junction improvements would be required for both passenger and private transport access. Some development and redevelopment opportunities for business uses along the access corridor may be appropriate;
(c) Meadway- access corridor with the potential to accommodate modes of transport to gunnels wood road. A new highway, underpass and junctions would be required. There may also be development opportunities along this access corridor; and
(d) Symonds/Todds Green – access limited to passenger transport, emergency vehicles, cycle equestrian and pedestrians at Todds Green Lane near to Todds Green bridge over a1(m) to Stevenage.

POLICY SW8: DEVELOPMENT ALONG ACCESS CORRIDORS

Development proposals along the access corridors, through the gunnels wood employment area, will only be permitted if they enhance the quality of the environment and meet the following principles:

(a) improve the visual appearance of the corridor by setting back buildings from the highway to enable structural landscaping; and
(b) designed to enhance the visual approach; and
(c) provide satisfactory links to the cycle and pedestrian networks to facilitate their use; and
(d) locate car parking away from the access corridor frontage, beneath buildings or to the rear of properties.

12.8.7 Land may be lost within the existing built area of Stevenage to make way for essential improvements to the existing highway network. If important facilities for existing residents are lost, they will need to be replaced within the new development but close to the A1(M) and in a location which is easily accessible to existing users.

12.8.8 If the potential crossing point at Meadway is implemented the access road may run through Meadway Park. As the construction of new transport links is essential for providing access to the proposed development, an overriding need may exist for justifying an exception to policy L10 and permitting the loss of part of Meadway Park. It is unlikely that the remaining land would be adequate for formal recreation in terms of size, shape and supporting facilities.

12.8.9 The Borough Council will require Meadway Park to be replaced within the development at Stevenage West. The replacement facility will be required to be at least the equivalent of Meadway Park in terms of size and quality to ensure that there is no net loss of open space provision and supporting facilities to the community it currently serves i.e Symonds Green neighbourhood. It will also be imperative for the replacement facility to be located where it can be readily accessed by the community it currently serves. A location in Stevenage West which is within easy walking distance of Symonds Green neighbourhood is, therefore, required. As it would not be acceptable to expect children to walk to a new play area west of the A1(M), the existing children’s play area at Meadway Park will need to be retained or relocated as close as possible to its present position. Any open space identified in the Stevenage West development to replace Meadway Park will be in addition to the open space needed to meet the needs of the housing development itself.

POLICY SW9: REPLACEMENT OF MEADWAY PARK

If the loss or partial loss of Meadway Park is necessary in order to provide access to the strategic development at Stevenage west, there will be a requirement for Meadway Park to be replaced within the new development.

This will involve:

(a) The replacement facilities to be at least equivalent in terms of size and quality to the facilities lost;
(b) The replacement facilities to be easily accessible to the community that Meadway Park currently serves;
(c) The sensitive design of any access infrastructure to ameliorate the impact of the development;
(d) A comprehensive landscape treatment of the appropriate residual areas.

12.8.10 The loss of employment land is more difficult to quantify. This is because the loss of land arising from improvements to the existing highway network is currently unknown. A master plan cannot normally provide for unknown increases of employment land. The Borough Council, therefore, proposes that employment land, equivalent to the amount lost through improvements to the existing highway network, should be replaced within the new development. This provision would be in addition to the employment land allocated to meet the needs of the development, to help meet the potential employment land loss.

POLICY SW10: LOSS OF EMPLOYMENT LAND

If employment land is lost due to improvements to the existing highway network, provision should be made within the master plan for an equivalent replacement amount.

12.9 NATURAL, SEMI-NATURAL AND HISTORIC ENVIRONMENT

12.9.1 For a sustainable development, special attention will need to be given to the treatment of the existing natural, semi-natural and historic environmental assets within and surrounding the site. Whilst a development of this scale will inevitably have adverse impacts on the environment, development proposals should be planned to mitigate against these. Also, it can and should provide significant new environmental benefits as indicated in policy SW11 which must be designed with their long term management in mind. The master plan will need to be accompanied by a series of strategies which deal specifically with these environmental aspects.

POLICY SW11: NATURAL, SEMI-NATURAL AND HISTORIC
ENVIRONMENT

Environmental features should be used to contribute towards achieving a sustainable development, which will require development proposals to accord with the following principles:

(a) an overall landscape and management strategy shall be submitted with the master plan for both internal and peripheral landscape areas. Subsequent detailed landscape and management plans should take account of the agreed management strategy; and
(b) loss of habitats or species should be prevented as far as possible and opportunities should be taken to increase the potential nature conservation value of the development site and the surrounding area, in accordance with a nature conservation strategy submitted with the master plan; and
(c) existing trees, woodlands and hedgerows should be retained wherever possible. New planting should be undertaken in order to secure landscape, nature conservation, recreation, amenity and climatic benefits; and
(d) existing landscape features and open spaces should be integrated into the development area and enhanced to create a sense of place and these should be linked with the surrounding countryside by the creation of green corridors; and
(e) the master plan should demonstrate how the best and most versatile agricultural land will be kept in production as far as possible until the later phases of the development.

Landscape

12.9.2 An overall landscape strategy will provide the basis for detailed landscape plans. These will need to show those parts of the existing landscape, within the development area and the surrounding countryside that forms part of the setting for that area, to be retained. They will also establish the extent of landscape enhancement within these areas and other locations that will be required by the development and how the landscaping within these areas will be maintained. Specific aims include:

(a) to enhance and provide a varied and attractive overall landscape for the development site and the wider area, including major ‘structural’ planting using appropriate ‘native’ species;
(b) to retain and provide additional planting of trees, woodlands and hedgerows
(i) to strengthen the physical boundaries of the Green Belt and of the proposed development areas
(ii) to maximise their role as carbon-sinks i.e. to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the development.
(The expected contribution to this aim should be demonstrated in the master plan and subsequent planning applications);
(c) to relate to and respect existing features and the area’s history;
(d) to protect and enhance natural habitats and wildlife species, as set out in the nature conservation strategy;
(e) to provide opportunities for informal recreation;
(f) to create links and corridors for different purposes (e.g. transport networks, wildlife, appropriate sport and recreation, healthy living, amenity and views), within the development and into the surrounding countryside;
(g) to set down long-term management requirements and how they will be achieved;
(h) to mitigate against adverse landscape and environmental impacts;
(i) to provide the physical frameworks for each phase of development, indicating where planting will be in advance of development.

Nature conservation

12.9.3 A nature conservation strategy will be required as part of the master plan to show how the existing nature conservation value of the area will be protected. It should also indicate how opportunities could be provided to increase the area’s bio-diversity. Overall, these should achieve a net gain to the area. Development proposals will need to demonstrate how, in particular, the following aims will be achieved:

(a) to protect all important semi-natural areas within the development site and in the surrounding area;
(b) to identify existing and new opportunities for nature conservation which make provision for the long-term survival of existing species (e.g. by making an existing habitat area larger) and for new species to colonise the area;
(c) to link habitats as part of a network of green spaces which can be used for providing attractive landscapes, wildlife corridors and informal recreation opportunities;
(d) to provide public access, where appropriate, to sites of nature conservation interest and educational opportunities e.g. nature trails, information boards; and
(e) to set down management strategies for conserving existing and new habitats and species.

Other environmental issues

12.9.4 Development on this scale offers several challenges in addressing environmental issues. Opportunities must be taken to design for a new community, which will use the area’s natural environment in ways which take advantage of and enhance it. In this way, people can benefit from a close relationship with open spaces and wildlife, with improved quality of life compared with that of existing built-up areas. This approach follows the principles of New Town and Garden City developments. The Borough Council considers that the layout of development should incorporate open spaces, woodlands and other landscape features as part of a network of green links and corridors.

12.9.5 The area has not been subject to development pressures in the past. As a result, the area’s historic value has not yet been fully assessed. If lost as part of development, valuable features cannot be replaced; these might include ancient lanes and hedgerows, archaeological remains and historic buildings. The Borough Council considers that it is important to preserve the area’s historical context. The master plan and subsequent detailed proposals must carefully evaluate these features and demonstrate how they have been dealt with. Different ways might include integrating them into new built areas, or interpreting the evidence on site, or using them positively to preserve them. Any losses or alterations will have to be fully justified in providing for other benefits of the development. Particular care will be needed during the construction phases, so measures to identify and to protect environmental assets will be expected to be part of the Environmental Impact Assessment.

12.10 HOUSING

12.10.1 This development provides a significant opportunity to encourage sustainable lifestyles and a high quality living environment. The development needs to provide a mix of housing in terms of size, type, density and affordability. The Housing chapter of this Plan sets out the requirements for an appropriate range of dwellings in terms of size, type, density and affordability.

12.10.2 The affordable housing should be spread throughout the development and in small clusters, generally less than 30 dwellings. During the progress of the development, the required mix of housing should be maintained. To achieve this in part, the building of affordable housing will be triggered by the completion of given numbers of houses-for-sale, the details of which will be set out in Section 106 agreements.

12.11 EMPLOYMENT

12.11.1 One of the aims of sustainability is to be able to meet the everyday needs of residents within a settlement. However, for this development, the Borough Council recognises that it would be impractical to provide a sufficient range of employment sites, and therefore jobs, to meet all the employment requirements of all economically active residents. Nevertheless, a number of jobs should be provided to enable people to live and work in the area.

12.11.2 Neither Stevenage nor North Hertfordshire have severe structural economic problems or high unemployment levels which need addressing. Employment studies show that existing employment land is roughly in balance with local requirements. So, the need for additional employment land arises only because of the development itself.

12.11.3 The Borough Council has agreed with North Hertfordshire District Council and Hertfordshire County Council assumptions that the future population may have similar employment characteristics to those of Hertfordshire generally. Currently 40% of the economically active work in the services sector in the various associated land uses such as in schools, health facilities and shops. The remaining economically active work in offices, manufacturing and warehousing, i.e. Use Classes B1,B2 and B8. Service jobs will be provided within the facilities on-site. It is acknowledged that not all residents would, or could, work in the new development, so it is proposed that between 40% and 50% of the total employment needs of the development in B1 and B2 uses are met. It is considered that warehousing, Use Class B8, is not appropriate here as it would increase traffic flows and so not achieve one of the main principles for the transport strategy.

POLICY SW12: EMPLOYMENT LAND

As part of the master plan, between 10 and 12 hectares of employment land for B1 and B2 uses should be indicated; with between 7 and 9 hectares available for development before 2011.

A mixture of unit sizes are required within the overall development and also within individual employment areas.

12.11.4 There will need to be a mixture of unit sizes to ensure that the local area does not depend on a single large firm. For clarity, unit sizes are defined as:
- Small units - up to and including 235 square metres;
- Medium units - from 236 to and including1000 square metres; and
- Large units - 1001 square metres or greater.
Furthermore, the Borough Council also considers that small sized “start up” units and “managed work space” are needed to encourage local enterprise.

POLICY SW13: MANAGED SMALL BUSINESS UNITS

A managed work space unit of about 3,000 square metres gross should be provided close to the main local centre.

12.12 RETAIL PROVISION

12.12.1 Sustainable development involves meeting the everyday needs of residents close to where they live. At the same time, new retail provision should not adversely affect the vitality and viability of nearby town centres. Non-food retail warehousing or outlet shopping is not considered appropriate. Neighbourhood centres with a range of shops and services should be provided to meet residents needs. Current retail assessment indicates that a food store of 3,000 square metres (sales area) floor space could be supported by a development of 10,000 dwellings. It is proposed that this should be the maximum amount of land allocated in the master plan for a store. The actual sales area floor space will need be assessed prior to detailed approval. This is to ensure that the retail store is of appropriate scale but not larger than is necessary to meet the needs of the residents of an approved scale of development. Any proposed retail development outside the main centre or local centres at Stevenage West will have to satisfy all the criteria in policy TR5.

12.12.2 All the local centres will require other services or facilities such as schools in order to provide opportunities for ‘linked’ journeys. They should include restaurants, take-aways and pubs to encourage evening activity and ensure their economic success.

POLICY SW14: RETAIL PROVISION

In the main centre, a food store will be provided of a size appropriate to, but no larger than is necessary to, meet the needs of the residents of the development. The actual sales area floor space will need to be assessed and agreed prior to the grant of planning permission. To achieve this, land for a food store of up to 3,000 square metres (sales area) will be allocated in the master plan.

Any retail proposals above this threshold within the main centre will have to adhere to the criteria in Policy TR5, with the exception of criterion (a). Moreover, any development proposal outside the main centre or local centres at Stevenage West will have to adhere to all the criteria in Policy TR5.

In local centres, provision should be made for small convenience stores of between 100 and 250 square metres (sales area) with other small retail and service units.

Policy TR5

12.13 LEISURE

12.13.1 In the development the number of new residents will generate a large and identifiable need for leisure opportunities. These will include informal outdoor recreation and high intensity indoor sports in buildings. The Leisure and Recreation chapter sets out open space requirements for children’s play space and informal open space and provides guidance on the maintenance of all types of open space.

12.13.2 Policy L15 relates to all formal open space provision that is defined by the NPFA as outdoor playing space for sport. This includes playing fields, sports pitches, artificial sports surfaces, athletics tracks, tennis courts and bowling greens. It is important that in new residential developments, playing fields and other outdoor sports facilities are located in appropriate locations where they are accessible both to the local community and to users who travel from further away i.e. accessible by passenger transport. Due to the potential for outdoor sports facilities to be used by a large number of people on a regular basis, it is necessary for them to be sited where they will not adversely affect residential amenity by virtue of noise, traffic disturbance or car parking problems.

12.13.3 Playing fields and other outdoor sports facilities that are provided without adequate supporting facilities, particularly changing rooms, are less likely to be fully utilised as they do not meet the requirements of users. This can result in more pressure being placed on facilities elsewhere and local needs for outdoor sports not being met. To avoid this situation arising, it will be essential that adequate supporting facilities are provided with sports pitches and other forms of outdoor sports provision.

12.13.4 It is essential that new outdoor sports facilities are provided to a size and standard that permits efficient use and management. Sport England advise that a minimum of two winter pitches (football/rugby), a cricket pitch, changing rooms and a pavilion is the smallest facility which is efficient to use and manage. The Borough Council considers that a development of 1,000 or more dwellings is required to support the provision of this facility as part of a residential development. This is based on Sport England guidance on the land area needed for these facilities (3 hectares) and on local standards of pitch provision (1.4 ha per 1,000 population) and average household size (2.46 people per dwelling), see Table L1.

POLICY SW15: OUTDOOR SPORTS FACILITY PROVISION

The development will be required to provide playing fields and other outdoor sports facilities in accordance with local standards at a minimum ratio of 1.5 hectares per 1,000 population of which 1.4 hectares should be for pitch sports. Proposals for playing fields and other outdoor sports facilities will be required to meet the following criteria:

(a) be well located and distributed throughout the development to meet the needs of residents of the development, and to be accessible by a range of transport modes, including passenger transport, cycling and walking; and
(b) be appropriately sited so as not to have an adverse impact on the local environment or residential amenities in terms of visual impact, noise or general disturbance; and
(c) provide changing facilities and associated facilities of a suitable size and scale that is reasonably required for the operation of the sports facility.

12.13.5 For this new community, leisure facilities must be provided and managed as soon as possible. Standards produced by Sport England provide guidance for major facilities. These justify the need for a range of major sports facilities to serve the Stevenage West development which are expected to include sports hall, health and fitness centre, and artificial surface area. These should be located close to the main local centre. Most of the necessary facilities will be provided on site but, if needed, the sub-regional facilities in Stevenage should be improved or upgraded.

POLICY SW16: MAJOR LEISURE FACILITIES

The development should provide leisure facilities, which are expected to include:

(a) sports hall; and
(b) health and fitness centre; and
(c) artificial surface multi-use games area; and
(d) artificial surface multi-use sports pitch

Within the development area, provision of facilities will be located so as to be easily accessible by the new community. The upgrading of existing leisure facilities in Stevenage will be considered in order to cater for the increased demand by residents of the development.

12.13.6 Allotments still have an important recreational function and as such their provision in the development is necessary. A study of allotments was commissioned by the Borough Council in 2000 to provide guidance on the supply and demand for allotments in Stevenage, the figures set out below are taken from its conclusions.

12.13.7 The Borough Council considers that new allotment sites need to be at least 0.5 hectares in size to be viable to manage. It is also important that new allotment provision is accessible in terms of walking to the population it serves and that provision is made for support facilities e.g. water, sheds, adequate security and good physical access. It should be noted that the local standard of 0.09 hectares per 1,000 population is based only on allotment plots and does not include provision for support facilities. On the basis of the local standard of allotment provision and the minimum size for a viable allotment, Stevenage West could justify on-site provision of new allotment space as a minimum of about 2,300 dwellings would be needed to support a viable allotment site.

POLICY SW17: ALLOTMENT PROVISION

Provision is required to be made for allotment space in the development at a ratio of 0.09 hectares per 1,000 population. Proposals for new allotment sites within the development will be required to meet the following criteria:

(a) be of at least 0.5 hectares in size; and
(b) be accessible and well located within 1,200 metres of the local population they will serve; and
(c) provide adequate support facilities, security and physical access.

New allotment sites provided within the development will be required to be offered for adoption by the borough council. A commuted sum to cover maintenance will be sought. Alternatively, allotment space provided within the development will be subject to covenanted, long term, community management arrangements.

12.14 SOCIAL AND COMMUNITY FACILITIES

12.14.1 For a new development of this size, a key requirement is to provide social and community facilities for residents. Stevenage currently provides certain sub-regional facilities.

12.14.2 Within the development a hierarchy of centres is envisaged to meet the sustainability aims and objectives of the Development Plan. This should include a ‘main local centre’ and other smaller ‘local centres’, in which appropriate facilities should be located. The facilities, therefore, will be readily accessible to local residents without use of a car. These will include health, education, residential care, childcare and places of worship. The expectation is that other minor facilities will also be needed. These could include space within buildings and outdoor areas.

12.14.3 Within this Plan, the Social and Community chapter sets out requirements in terms of provision, location and dual use. In addition, this development proposal, because of its size, means that certain facilities need to be specified.

POLICY SW18: SOCIAL AND COMMUNITY FACILITIES

Social, community and religious facilities will be provided for the needs of future residents of the development. Within the development area, provision of such facilities will be at readily accessible, suitable locations.

12.14.4 Research indicates that service providers are looking for ways to jointly provide a single facility where the public can visit. This will result in multi-purpose community centres where users will share accommodation or facilities, these will be located at the main and other local centres. For example, a shared “one stop shop” has been identified for providing local information and services by public, private and voluntary agencies. Doctors, dentists and opticians have also suggested that this would be an opportunity to share facilities and to promote healthy living. Such centres may also provide library and museum services.

POLICY SW19: COMMUNITY CENTRES

Community centres, of an appropriate scale to the community they serve, will be required in all local centres.

12.14.5 In addition to the healthy living promotion provided in the community centres, a primary health care centre is required at the ‘main local centre'. Facilities for doctors, dentists and similar health professionals are expected to be provided to enable provision of primary health care services. In addition opportunities for facilities should be provided for services such as opticians for the well being of the community.

POLICY SW20: SURGERIES AND CLINICS

The provision of a primary health care centre of an appropriate scale to the community it will serve will be expected within the main local centre. The health centre should include accommodation for doctors and dental surgeries as well as the opportunity for facilities for opticians and other health professionals.

12.14.6 On the basis of current information, the emergency services have specific land use requirements. A facility for the fire service will be required with direct access onto the main arterial route to enable quick response times. The main community centre will be designed to enable shared facilities with the police; and the health centre with ambulance services.

POLICY SW21: EMERGENCY SERVICES

A new community fire station will be provided close to the main local centre. In addition a stand-by point for ambulances should be linked to the health centre.

The police service will require a level of provision on site depending upon links with other emergency facilities at the ‘main local centre’, and possibly upgraded facilities at the existing police station in Stevenage.

12.14.7 A study of cemetery provision was commissioned by the Borough Council in 2000 to provide guidance on the supply and demand for burials in Stevenage. This has shown that the existing cemetery in Stevenage (Weston Road) does not have enough capacity to cater for the increased demand for burials created by Stevenage West. At the same time, it is not close enough for future residents of this large development to visit. Therefore, a new cemetery is needed within the proposed development. A cemetery site of up to four hectares may eventually be needed depending on the eventual scale of the development. Associated development such as a chapel of rest and adequate parking provision will also be required on the site. In terms of location, the site must be accessed easily and by a range of transport modes.

POLICY SW22: CEMETERY PROVISION

A cemetery and associated facilities will be required to meet the needs of the future population of the development. It should also be capable of being extended to meet the needs of the possible total developed area. It should be easily accessible by a range of transport.