North East Bexhill Masterplan

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(28) 5. Development Principles

5.1 The following 'development principles' interpret the vision and the relevant Local Plan policies in providing guidelines for the development of the area as a whole. They relate to:

  1. land uses
  2. sustainable use of resources
  3. employment
  4. housing
  5. infrastructure
  6. access
  7. design

5.2 These principles are applied specifically to the BX2 and BX3 areas in Sections 6 and 7. Although the principles are separated out for clarity, they are closely related and should be viewed as a whole.

5.3 A concept plan is presented at Figure 7, while indicative layouts for each policy area are subsequently presented, although they do not rule out different interpretations of the principles in this Section.

A. LAND USES

5.4 In accordance with the Local Plan, housing and business uses (offices, manufacturing, warehouses) will be the main land uses.

5.5 There will also be commercial and community uses to support the sustainability of the major housing area to the east. Large-scale retailing is not being provided for. That will be directed to existing town and district centres.

5.6 The general scale and location of the land uses have largely been determined through the Local Plan process.

5.7 Policy BX2 states that the area to the east of the Link Road should provide:

  • at least 980 dwellings
  • some 22,000sqm of business floorspace
  • a neighbourhood centre

5.8 To the west of the Link Road, Policy BX3 provides for:

  • some 26,000sqm of business floorspace
  • at least 130 dwellings
  • structural open spaces, landscape and woodland belts

Land use principles

5.9 The main principles for the mix of land uses are:

  • a comprehensive approach to the development of both residential and business elements
  • providing for significant business investment and job creation at the earliest opportunity
  • locating business development to maximise accessibility as well as minimising commercial traffic on residential roads and, by linking it with housing development, to make it commercially viable
  • promoting major new housing with a well-defined identity
  • linking development closely with the establishment of the proposed adjoining Countryside Park

5.10 These principles are reflected in the layout and phasing of detailed proposals for both sites. More details of the nature of the proposed uses are set out in sections 6 and 7.

Figure 7: North East Bexhill Concept Plan

Figure 7: North East Bexhill Concept Plan

B. SUSTAINABLE USE OF RESOURCES

5.11 Such a major development, incorporating a mix of land uses, offers tremendous potential to achieve a high level of sustainability.

5.12 Government and regional policies place sustainability at the heart of development planning. This is well-established in relation to:

  • securing accessible jobs, and a balance between jobs and housing
  • achieving "balanced communities", with affordable housing
  • reducing the need for use of the car
  • fostering bio-diversity

5.13 It is also be important to look holistically at energy, water and waste management systems when considering more global issues of CO2 emissions and climate change.

5.14 National energy standards, policies and protocols are being put in place to improve the energy efficiency of buildings. In addition, there is increasing encouragement to make greater use of renewable energy (RE).

5.15 While the Local Plan does not specifically advocate particular energy ratings for this (or any) site, it does note the Council's desire 'to encourage, wherever appropriate, the harnessing of renewable energy sources and the development of renewable energy schemes.'

5.16 As noted in the Vision section, the process of Sustainability Appraisal has drawn attention to the scope for improving the sustainability of the SPD in terms of energy objectives.

5.17 Moreover, policies in current Regional Planning Guidance, which is now part of the statutory 'development plan', enable Councils to expect the incorporation of high standards of energy efficiency in new development (Policy INF4) and to encourage the incorporation of combined heat and power (CHP) in developments and district heating infrastructure in large scale developments in mixed use (Policy INF5). There are also criteria to apply to assess the potential for renewable energy (Policy INF9) to help meet regional RE targets.

Sustainable energy principles

5.18 A key principle for the development is for it to be an exemplar of sustainable design, construction and energy generation.

5.19 The Council has commissioned an energy appraisal to further assess how this development can embrace best practice in energy efficiency and generation. While this report is due shortly, it is expected to highlight:

  • that the east-west orientation of the site should be utilised to maximise passive solar gain and use of natural light
  • the scale of development, and mix of uses, makes the use of CHP/district heating systems a realistic, and highly sustainable, possibility
  • the elevated position also provides the potential for wind power generation
  • the use of modern construction techniques for buildings, and of highly energy efficient materials and appliances, could help achieve very high energy efficiency ratings

5.20 Waste reduction is also vital aspect of promoting sustainable development. There will inevitably be some movement of earth for the built development and for the creation of roads and ponds/swales. To minimise transport off-site, an over-arching waste management strategy will be necessary to reducing excavation, construction and demolition waste. (see ESCC's Construction and Demolition Waste SPD).

5.21 In addition to sustainable drainage measures required in E - Infrastructure below, the development should incorporate measures to reduce water consumption, such as water-saving devices, rainwater "harvesting" and grey water recycling.

5.22 Landscape and movement strategies should dovetail with that for energy conservation; for example, in developing 'greenways' to reduce car journeys, and retaining and increasing woodland, recognising that it acts as a 'carbon sink'.

5.23 The other considerations highlighted at paragraph 5.12 are fully reflected in other development principles, as well as in the allocations themselves, to make this development a fully sustainable urban extension.

C. EMPLOYMENT

5.24 This development offers the main opportunity to create significant job growth in Bexhill. This is vital to improve local earnings and to increase the quality of life of local people. Average household income in Rother is currently only about 80% of the region, while Bexhill is well below the district average. Many people have to commute out of Bexhill for work, while the limited supply of business sites and premises constrains the growth of local firms.

5.25 An evaluation of the market potential of the business land within the allocations indicates that there is pent-up local demand. Also, high quality, modern business sites, which the town currently lacks, may help attract investment into the area.

5.26 Increasing job opportunities is a clear priority in the Local Plan. This is reinforced by the emerging South East Plan's strategy for employment-led growth in the Sussex Coast.

5.27 The identification of mixed-use allocations in the Local Plan is geared to ensuring that housing and business land are provided in tandem, with much shared infrastructure and services.

5.28 However, merely providing new business land will not necessarily be sufficient to attract new jobs to the area. This requires a coordinated approach, linking to skills development and training, improved communications and marketing.

5.29 Such an approach to economic regeneration is being actively fostered by the Hastings and Bexhill Task Force. Its executive agency, Seaspace, views the North East Bexhill area as having a strategic role to play in providing for business investment, and may assist in securing business development.

5.30 The size of the allocations means that a range of business uses and sizes may be catered for. The majority are likely to be light manufacturing, although the location also suits office activities.

5.31 While the topography and visibility of particular areas may limit very large buildings, in order to meet local needs and encourage new firms, plots should be capable of providing a range of accommodation, from start-up units and managed workspace to prestige headquarters.

5.32 Economic studies indicate that a key factor in achieving a good take-up of employment sites is having serviced plots. The mixed use allocations offer the opportunity to provide these.

5.33 Given the emphasis on sustainability principles in the previous section, it is hoped that firms in the "eco-industries" sector would be attracted. This would complement the environmental aspirations of the development, and should provide exemplars in sustainable construction.

5.34 Employment principles for the development are:

  • The business land should be developed as early as possible
  • The release of business land should parallel that for housing
  • The business land should be serviced
  • Plots should (through combination) allow a broad range of unit types and sizes of 200sq.m. up to at least 1,000sq.m.
  • Within the overall mix of business (Class B) uses, there will be flexibility in the types of activity allowed, subject to locational factors, although the majority of floorspace should be for light industry, with a significant office element
  • Office areas should be distinct from general industrial ones
  • Development should accord with the sustainability objectives for the area
  • The form and appearance of new development should be of a high quality, with only the highest standards allowed at the northern "gateway" to the town
  • Flexibility in building design to suit a range of uses is encouraged

D. HOUSING

5.35 Housing can support the overall vision in several ways:

  1. Housing mix - a broad choice of dwelling types and sizes will enable a broad community to develop as well as help revitalise the town and support adjacent employment sites
  2. Housing density - higher densities support the efficient use of land and local services, accessible by foot, cycle or bus, while a range of densities enable alternative layout/design approaches
  3. Housing design - layout and design helps develop a strong identity and character, as well as setting a new standard in terms of a sustainable and attractive living environment

5.36 New housing is expected to primarily serve a local market. It also offers the potential to attract in-movers from a wider area by virtue of its scale, location and range of housing, as well as by the new job opportunities being provided on adjoining land.

5.37 Although projected growth in households over the next 20 years will be mainly from single person households, with many elderly people, this does not mean that the majority of provision should be for 1 or 2 bed properties. Many small households have a need for larger dwellings.

5.38 Regard is also had to the nature of the existing dwelling stock and market demand. Also, in line with the economic strategy for Bexhill, there is a desire to curb the drift of younger people who currently move away from the area, both to rebalance the demographic profile by being more socially inclusive and to contribute to the future economic "health" of the area.

5.39 Housing principles should also dovetail with those for employment that support improved local incomes, skills and job opportunities.

Housing principles

5.40 Residential development at North East Bexhill should:

  • provide a broad range of dwelling types and sizes
  • foster a broader and more economically active population
  • encourage young adults and families to live locally
  • take account of and complement the housing stock in adjacent neighbourhoods
  • engender diversity and a "balanced community" through housing types and sizes, for people of different ages, incomes and household characteristics
  • promote social cohesion and healthy lifestyles, including access to education, health, community and open space facilities
  • normally meet 'lifetime homes' (wheelchair/mobility) standards to ensure that the needs of a wide range of household types may be met
  • achieve a high standard of living environment through high quality design of building and the public realm
  • represent best practice in sustainable design, as promoted through the 'Code for Sustainable Homes'
  • support a relatively high rate of development

Housing Mix

5.41 While the exact housing mix will be for determination at the planning application stage in the context of prevailing circumstances, the following composition is expected, reflecting the balance of considerations - housing need, demand and future economic and social "health" of Bexhill:

Dwelling size %
1 bed 10 - 15
2 bed 20 - 25
3 bed 35 - 40
4 bed 25 - 30
5+ bed 4 -5

5.42 This applies for the combined Policy Areas. It does not distinguish between open market and affordable housing.

5.43 Some specialist homes tailored to the needs of elderly people is anticipated as part of both the open market and affordable housing. This will include an 'extra care' scheme. Construction to 'lifetime homes' standards will also help provide suitable housing.

Affordable housing

5.44 The Local Plan requires that 40% of all housing is "affordable". For local people, this means either 'social rented' or 'shared ownership' housing. The former will generally prevail in order to help those in greatest housing need.

5.45 The district-wide approach to affordable housing is contained in the Council's 'Affordable Housing Supplementary Planning Document' adopted in October 2006.

5.46 Given the specific vision and objectives for this site, the Council's expectations for affordable housing are set out below. This should also cater for a variety of age groups and economic status and mobility levels.

5.47 The nature of the mix of affordable housing is proposed to vary across the development areas to avoid an undue concentration of one form of tenure in one locality.

5.48 Specifically, regard shall be had to improving the distribution of affordable housing across the town, recognising that there is an existing concentration of social rented and other low cost rented properties in Sidley.

5.49 Therefore, the affordable housing requirement should be met as follows:

  • a total of 40% of all housing should be affordable in line with Council's Local Plan.
  • this will be a combination of social rented and shared ownership housing, the exact balance within each Policy Area to reflect individual site circumstances at the time
  • in the western Policy Area, a substantial proportion of affordable housing should be through shared equity arrangements to encourage low cost home ownership and re-balance the housing mix rather than reinforce a prevalence of low earning households
  • in the eastern Policy Area, an even split between social rented and shared ownership housing is envisaged
  • in this unique situation, a small proportion of the requirement may be met off-site, in the form of direct provision or via an in-lieu payment, to meet strategic needs elsewhere in the district. This applies particularly to the western site, and to the eastern site if higher housing numbers are achieved.

5.50 In order to support young economically active people on local incomes to get on the housing ladder, an entry level to shared equity housing is expected to be set at 25%, with time limitations imposed on "staircasing" up to higher ownership levels.

5.51 More details on the provision of affordable housing, including the presumption of dispersing provision through developments, are contained in the related SPD.

5.52 Housing density and design are discussed fully in sections 6 and 7 for each Policy Area.

E. INFRASTRUCTURE

5.53 The infrastructure - roads and footpaths, drainage, utilities, open space, school and other community buildings, etc., - associated with such a major development is significant.

5.54 This section covers the general principles for provision and identifies infrastructure relevant to the development area as a whole. Specific infrastructure for the respective policy areas is elaborated up in the following sections.

5.55 Policy GD2 of the Local Plan states:

'Development will only be permitted when it is satisfactorily demonstrated that the infrastructure and facilities required to service the development are available or will be provided.

Such provision may require funding contributions, off-site works the provision of land or phasing, which will be secured normally by legal agreements.

Where a site, either defined in the Local Plan or otherwise proposed for development, comprises land in separate ownerships, it must be demonstrated that proposals will secure the provision of necessary infrastructure to serve the whole site.'

5.56 In accordance with the final paragraph of the policy, to ensure a co-ordinated approach to infrastructure provision, it will be necessary that any proposal for development of just one of the policy areas (or part thereof) clearly plans for - and provides for - infrastructure to serve the overall BX2 and BX3 area.

5.57 Also, development must be co-ordinated with the provision of both physical and community infrastructure.

5.58 Physical infrastructure required for both policy areas will include construction of the junction with the Link Road, including arms both to east and west, and the design of a foul water drainage system to accommodate the likely capacity needed for all development, and consequent over-sizing of pipes.

Surface water drainage

5.59 A drainage strategy will be developed for the whole site. This shall:

  • support a diverse ecological interest
  • seek to maximise management close to the source
  • not increase flow rates off-site

5.60 The details of water storage requirements will need to be refined in relation to specific proposals, but it is anticipated that this can be achieved by use of a variety of sustainable drainage systems to achieve the following capacities:

Water management mechanism Likely capacity
Ponds/wetlands 15,000 cu.m
Swales/trenches 5,000 cu.m
Permeable pavement 1,000 cu.m
Rainwater re-use 500 cu.m
TOTAL 21,500 cu.m

5.61 In addition, the amount of water used in residential properties should be managed to be efficient in line with the Code for Sustainable Homes.

Utilities

5.62 A new foul drainage system will be required for the development as there is presently only very limited capacity, this being in the Pebsham area. Pumping will be required from both areas to carry waste water to the new treatment works east of Pebsham.

5.63 There are gas mains in existing roads adjoining the development areas, with a medium pressure main along Wrestwood Road.

5.64 The water supply company's current 'resources plan' takes account of this development, although it may require upgrading of the distribution mains.

5.65 There is a need to increase the capacity of the electricity network to serve the site. The extent of this "reinforcement" will depend upon the energy demand. The potential to meet energy demand through the use of renewable energy generation is currently being evaluated (see 'part B above).

Community facilities

5.66 Community facilities have a vital part to play in creating a heart to the new community and allowing the non-physical attributes of community spirit and vitality, integral to successful places, to develop.

5.67 Early development of community facilities such as meeting places, school, nursery, shops and play spaces, will help engender a communal spirit and identity.

5.68 The Local Plan already identifies the need for a 'primary school, nursery school, community hall, shops and services to meet local day-to-day needs and an amenity/recreation area' as part of the major housing area in the east. This is elaborated upon in Section 6.

5.69 The whole development (both residential and in some cases business areas) will impact on facilities and services such as:

  • provision of open space
  • school places
  • library facilities
  • health and social services
  • bus services to the area
  • the adjacent Countryside Park

Play and open space

5.70 In terms of children's play, Local Plan policy CF4 requires 0.1 hectare per 50 dwellings, while a recent audit of provision proposes that equipped play areas for younger children should be provided within 10 minutes walking time, with larger areas for older children in a 15 minute walk of all dwellings.

5.71 The audit also proposes standards for other forms of open space provision, including sports pitches and amenity open space. The scale of housing development triggers a need for such areas, while the latter is also required to serve employment areas.

5.72 Provision as part of the development, if conveniently located, will help overcome open space deficits in adjoining areas as well as in retaining and enhancing links to the countryside.

5.73 Effective open spaces should normally be "multi-functional" and form part of a 'greenspace network'.

5.74 They will range from equipped areas for play to more formal playing fields, village greens, natural open space corridors and parkland. They should contribute to the visual amenity of the area as well as recreational and ecological needs, and be part of the sustainable drainage strategy for the area where practicable. They may also serve as buffers to sensitive areas, such as ancient woodlands or business sites.

Education and libraries

5.75 East Sussex County Council has prepared a guide to the development contributions it will be seeking towards its own services, including, education, libraries and social services.

5.76 It is expected that there will be a new school in the large housing development in the east, with contributions sought from both residential developments towards secondary school places.

5.77 Bexhill Library is recognised as inadequate for the town and the County Council will seek contributions towards a better facility.

Health

5.78 The Primary Care Trust has advised that the new doctors' surgery at Pebsham will be capable of accommodating increased local need arising from the new housing in the east, while a replacement surgery at Sidley is due to be completed in 2008.

5.79 There is forecast need for further dental provision which could be accommodated as part of the commercial area.

5.80 The design of new development, including opportunities for exercise, should also contribute to a "healthy" community. This is integral to the Access principles below.

F. ACCESS

5.81 "Good connectivity" to the rest of Bexhill (and to Hastings), to adjacent established residential and commercial areas (including the town centre) and to the Countryside Park, as well as between and within the sites, is a key aspect of this development.

5.82 This reflects Local Plan Policy TR2 and the relevant criteria of Policies BX2 and BX3, which give particular priority to walking, cycling and bus accessibility.

5.83 Fundamentally, the Council must be confident that traffic generated by the development can be accommodated on the highway network.

5.84 At present, this is clearly not the case. The Highways Agency advises that the level of congestion on the A259 at Glyne Gap roundabout and its approaches is such that any significant increase in traffic would be unacceptable. Similarly, there are capacity issues at a number of junctions on local roads, which would be compounded by the development, most notably the A269 London Road/A2035 Wrestwood Road junction.

5.85 A Strategic Transport Assessment has been undertaken to quantify the likely traffic generation, to identify any off-site junction improvements that would be required to accommodate it, to assess any potential for development in advance of the Link Road and to recommend on the transport framework for pedestrians, cyclists, buses, commercial vehicles and cars.

Access principles

5.86 The over-arching accessibility principles for the development are:

  • plan for and provide the junction with Link Road and the connecting spur road to Wrestwood Road as early as possible and for it to function as the main route from the Link Road to northern parts of Bexhill
  • the spur from the Link Road (alone) will function as an arterial road catering for through traffic movements from outside this part of Bexhill
  • streets should be laid out as part of a highly "permeable" loose grid conducive to ease of movement by walking and cycling, in line with the Government's 'Manual for Streets'
  • occupation of development - residential and business - will be tied to the opening of the Link Road
  • a transport case for a very limited amount of development in advance of Link Road opening would have to be based on a range of on-site and off-site measures to off-set the effect of development traffic on overall traffic flows at Glyne Gap
  • there should be bus penetration into both development areas and development should support much-improved bus services, including a service along the Link Road from Bexhill town centre into Hastings, and into the adjoining Pebsham and Sidley areas, to effectively reduce reliance on the car
  • the existing public rights of way network should be retained and enhanced to meet additional demands
  • both on-site and off-site cycle routes should be provided to connect with the Link Road 'greenway', local services and employment areas, (including Bexhill College, the High School, Sidley centre and the Town Centre) and routes in the Countryside Park
  • car-parking should be provided at prevailing standards and designed to be fully integrated into the design of the residential developments, with the changing character and density of the development demanding a range of different parking solutions for residential areas, notably rear courtyards and small on-street squares

East

  • traffic should have alternative routes to connect to Wrestwood Road, with the one adjacent to the business areas being for all non-residential area traffic

West

  • employment areas should be connected to each other directly, where practicable
  • high profile pedestrian and cycle links made to Sidley
  • the possibility of vehicular access to the housing area from Watermill Lane should be allowed for to improve integration with existing development and access to services

G. DESIGN

5.87 Guidance on successful urban design has been interpreted for this site, through a Design Study, to generate design principles relevant to all areas and development options.

5.88 A successful development will be, firstly, an attractive place to live. This should be for all sections of the community, and especially for families and young adults that will help bring an economic dynamism to Bexhill.

5.89 A contemporary and sustainable design approach, drawing on the area's cultural heritage and site potentials, will identify that this is a "community of the future". Buildings should provide flexibility for alternative uses and future adaptation.

5.90 The varying site conditions described in Section 2 suggest potentially different design approaches to development in each area. At the same time, the overall development will need to be viewed as a whole to ensure that landscape structure, access, movement and the relationship between uses is fully considered.

Design principles

5.91 To create an identifiable sense of place ...

  • Respond to site topography, retaining long public views
  • Protect and add to the significant pockets of woodland, especially in elevated, ridge locations
  • Retain hedges/tree lines, particularly north-south ones, as movement corridors and, along with winding lanes and historic pathways, to frame development areas
  • Provide a clear structure with identifiable public spaces and landmarks defined by enveloping development
  • Incorporate significant distinctive "green space"
  • Plan as a neighbourhood, with accessible community facilities as its "heart"
  • Allow easy movement within the development but treat streets as spaces not just movement routes, defined by built form, in accordance with the 'Manual for Streets'
  • Create a well defined, landscaped northern urban edge
  • Develop the arterial route as a 'High Street' with a mix of uses that merges into housing to the east and business zones to the west
  • Align buildings to exploit the sloping site to create interesting internal views and variety
  • Utilise the 'percent for art' requirement under Policy CF7 to emphasise local character and/or sustainability in the design of the public realm

To integrate with its wider environment ...

  • Maximize opportunities to strengthen the pedestrian and cycle movement network across north Bexhill
  • Maintain and improve access to the countryside in conjunction with development of the Countryside Park
  • Use the readily available links to Pebsham, and further develop those to Sidley, to improve accessibility to jobs, services and the countryside
  • Use drainage and water management measures positively
  • Retain unimproved grassland north of Oaktree Farm
  • Enhance Pebsham Stream
  • Recognise the sensitivity of settings of listed buildings and historic value of other vernacular buildings
  • Maintain a 'watching brief' on archaeological interest

To develop a contemporary, sustainable and safe place

  • Encourage innovative developments, continuing Bexhill's legacy of cutting-edge design of public buildings and spaces
  • Build an energy efficient development with a low, if not zero, "carbon footprint"
  • Provide for protected species and seize opportunities to enhance existing habitats, notably ecologically rich woods, hedgerows and ponds
  • Have a mix of activities, especially around the High Street, to assist vitality
  • Encourage flexibility of future use in design of buildings
  • Ensure that public areas are well defined, always overlooked by the fronts of buildings and suitably lit
  • Assess design approaches in terms of: character, landscape design, security, ownership, servicing and facilities for refuse/recycling storage
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