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PROPOSED SUBMISSION LOCAL PLAN 2006-2028 - Aug 12

Proposed Submission Local Plan 2006-2028

What will the Local Plan Deliver?

Settlement Status

6.19 The South Somerset Role and Function Study (April 2009) identifies Chard as performing an employment function, an identified retail and community role for the town and surrounding area and having self containment and sustainable travel opportunities. Chard is designated a Primary Market Town in this Local Plan and such designation will enable the settlement to grow and continue to expand its identified role.

6.20 Attention is drawn to the different scale of growth proposed for Chard, compared with the other Primary Market Towns, which is justified due to its size, economic self containment and the work undertaken by LDA Consultants for the District Council in establishing a Regeneration Framework for the Town.

Strategic growth

6.21 The Chard Regeneration Plan[1] presented 4 options for the future growth of Chard. Option 3 (Chard Eastern Development Area - CEDA) has been chosen as the most appropriate location for the strategic growth. This option presents the benefits of large scale growth, associated community and highway infrastructure and regeneration without the emerging disbenefits of undue traffic congestion and pollution. The strategic growth area provides a scale of growth that will enable Chard to achieve and maximise its need for employment, housing, retail and associated amenities as well as improved highway infrastructure.

6.22 In summary the growth proposals include:

  • Approximately 3,237 dwellings (within and beyond the plan period)[2]
  • 19 hectares of employment land (within and beyond the plan period) of which 13 ha is included in existing commitments within the strategic growth area;
  • 2 new primary schools (within and beyond the plan period);
  • 4 neighbourhood centres (Avishayes, Stop Line Slopes, Millfield and Holbear - within and beyond the plan period);
  • Highway infrastructure and improvements;
  • Sports and open space provision.

6.23 The growth will also deliver:

  • An improved range and quality of housing in the town centre including affordable housing;
  • Improved permeability and connectivity of movements within the town centre;
  • More employment opportunities resulting in additional land and jobs;
  • Improved leisure provision with new open spaces and facilities (including the re-location of Chard Town Football Club);
  • Improved legibility and public transport provision including walking and cycling infrastructure;
  • New education facilities;
  • A significant increased in the critical mass of the town to attract some larger employers and retailers.
Figure 8: Chard Strategic Growth Area[3]
 
Figure 8: Chard Strategic Growth Area
 

6.24 The European Protected Species Assessment (2009) assessed the development options around Chard for any likely impact on species protected by European law. It identifies the presence of dormice and potential significant impacts on the local bat population in some areas of land identified as part of the strategic growth area. This will need to be taken into account and mitigation measures put in place, compensatory off site habitat creation may be required.

Policy PMT1: Chard Strategic Growth Area

Land at Chard is allocated for strategic growth to provide the following within the plan period and beyond:

  • Approximately 3237 dwellings;
  • Approximately 19 hectares of employment land;
  • 2 new primary schools;
  • 4 neighbourhood centres (Avishayes, Stop Line Slopes, Millfields and Holbear);
  • Highway infrastructure and improvements;
  • Sports and open space provision.
 
1. Chard Regeneration Plan, October 2009, LDA Design [back]
2. Includes Chard Regeneration Plan (2009) proposal for Option 3 and existing commitments]; [back]
3. Chard Regeneration Plan (LDA 2009) [back]
Employment

6.25 Chard is the second largest settlement in the District.  It has a substantial strategic employment land allocation and through the Chard Regeneration Framework is expected to deliver more jobs than in the past. Over the plan period 886 jobs are to be sought with 585 of those being in traditional 'B' Uses as defined by the Use Classes Order.

6.26 The Employment Land Review[4] identifies that the employment need in Chard will arise from within the local market where there is a hub of well-established local manufacturing and food processing industries. Manufacturing in Chard will remain important but it may experience changes in form and intensity. It is likely that in the future, smaller industrial ventures will spawn from the current larger operations. It is important that once this occurs, the town is in a position to offer the space and support for accommodating these new ventures. Chard Regeneration Framework seeks to attract businesses into the town to increase the range of well-paid, skilled jobs on offer.

6.27 Over the plan period it is proposed to deliver 13 additional hectares of employment land within the CEDA.

Retailing

6.28 Chard currently accommodates a good range of convenience floorspace provision and it is not considered that there is a strong qualitative deficiency in provision or a need to plan for a substantially increased convenience shopping market share. As a consequence, the Retail Capacity Study Update 2012 quantitative assessment predicts there to be no additional convenience floorspace capacity necessary for Chard until after 2021. Any increases in convenience floorspace are likely to be based on the ability to provide increased competition and focusing new development within the town centre.

6.29 There is a qualitative need for improved comparison floorspace within Chard, in order to improve the retention rate for this type of shopping, including the potential redevelopment of the Saved Plan[5] allocated site adjacent to Boden Street. The Boden Street site should be the focus for improving retail provision within Chard Town Centre, although it is important that development in this location does not harm the provision of adequate levels of car parking in the town centre and provides retail accommodation which can act as an extension to the town centre and not impact negatively upon existing provision.

6.30 The Retail Study's quantitative assessment indicates future comparison floorspace capacity for growth beyond existing provision and commitment of 469sq m (£1.9M expenditure capacity) net by 2017, rising to 1,688sq m (£8.2m expenditure capacity) net by 2028[6] on the basis of a constant market share, although this could be increased if suitable town centre sites are made available to facilitate the clawback of leaked expenditure. It is considered that this growth is best accommodated through the Development Management process.

4. South Somerset District Council Employment Land review (Revised November 2011) Stage 3 [back]
5. Adopted South Somerset Local Plan, March 2006 [back]
6. Retail Study Update, November 2010 [back]
Rail

6.31 The potential re-opening of Chard Junction is considered within the Chard Regeneration Framework (CRF) and the Transport Assessment (TA) report recommends that the proposal be developed with more detailed costings and a viability assessment. Somerset County Council (SCC) as the transport authority would need to undertake such a study. However, SCC's decision not to purchase the land from the British Rail Board (Residuary) (BRBR) Ltd[7] and the absence of a viability study indicating that there is a business case for the reopening of Chard Junction, mean that there is not sufficient evidence to protect the land for future rail use within the Local Plan. The land in question has now been sold. Policy TA2 will allow for protection of land for rail infrastructure where an economic case is made together with the existence of a sponsor(s) with access to appropriate finance.

Local Bus Services

6.32 A bespoke town bus service in Chard is unlikely to be commercially viable[8], although it is feasible to enhance existing bus services to ensure that any new development has effective access to services, and to fill gaps in existing provision such that all areas of Chard reach the similar levels of public transport accessibility. To do this the Chard Regeneration Framework Transport Assessment (TA) advocates:

  • Doubling the frequency of most services to neighbouring towns, thus making hourly services into half hourly services;
  • Improving bus access within Chard by appropriate routing of those parts of the services that are in the built up area with the new doubled frequency services, having two route options within Chard where one bus takes more or less the existing route and one serves the new area.

6.33 The TA also recommends Chard Town Centre as a transport hub, where all routes stop within a short distance of each other providing ease of interchange between both bus routes and between other travel modes. Reference to a transport interchange is shown on the proposals map (see Proposals Maps 3 & 3a Chard).

Walking and Cycling

6.34 Chard is a compact settlement with an existing centre offering access to local services, facilities, education and jobs within walking and cycle distance thresholds of the main residential areas. However, the impermeable layout of residential areas currently serves to discourage walking and cycling.

6.35 The CEDA will require strong sustainable transport connections with the centre if it is to be fully integrated as an extension to the existing settlement form. It is important therefore to ensure that journeys on foot or by bike are attractive in comparison with car journeys, and contribute to, and form part of a coherent network of attractive-to-use pedestrian and cycle routes. With linkages, further increases in levels of cycling should be achievable[9].

6.36 In residential areas new homes should be designed to make cycle storage secure and convenient and there should be adequate levels of cycle parking at retail and employment areas. Cycle parking at the main public transport nodes should also be provided.

6.37 For Modal Shift see Transport Section Policy TA3.

7. Decision by SCC in February 2010. SCC state 'Whilst the re-opening of a rail station at this location is a stated long-term aspiration of the Council in its current Local Transport Plan, at present there is no agreed business case demonstrating that the re-opening of the station would be a viable proposition; there is no funding allocated for development or construction of such a scheme; and no obvious prospect of such funding being allocated in the foreseeable future as it would be likely to cost several million pounds.' [back]
8. Chard Regeneration Framework Strategic Transport Assessment (TA), Peter Brett Associates, 2010 [back]
9. Supports SCC's Cycling Policy SUS4 - SCC schedule of Policies - Transport Policies March 2011 [back]
Implementation

6.38 The Chard Regeneration Framework[10] sets out a phased approach for growth. It presents logical stages at which development in the town can conclude or simply pause if necessary before further growth or regeneration takes place[11]. Unlocking the growth and regeneration opportunities highlighted in the report is complex and requires a phased approach to ensure viability and deliverability.

6.39 In support of the work produced as part of the Chard Regeneration Plan, the Chard Project Delivery Group commissioned a Feasibility Report[12] to demonstrate that the vision for Chard is both viable and deliverable. This included development appraisal, financial modelling and consultation and discussion with landowners and developers. Market Assessment work undertaken as part of this Feasibility Report suggests that residential development in the eastern area of Chard should be viable taking into account both CIL and Section 106 contributions/requirements. This position is supported through appraisal work undertaken as part of the study.

6.40 The key driver of the phasing sequence is the need to incrementally increase the capacity of the highways infrastructure to accommodate the traffic flows as the town grows. Initial improvements to the Convent Link traffic lights have taken place and this is expected to create some additional capacity for strategic growth. This should be followed by a phased delivery of a continuous route to the east of the town from the A358 Furnham Road to the A358 Tatworth Road and connections into adjacent urban areas in order to achieve the capacity to allow Chard to grow. To achieve the strategic growth, four more steps are required to complete the necessary highway infrastructure:

  1. A new link from the A30 near Oaklands House to the end of Millfield Avenue a new route to/from the town centre from the east which also delivers access to the growth area. (Millfield Link road).
  2. A connection south from Millfield Road to Forton Road, allowing for greater permeability and linkage between the growth area and the town centre.
  3. Linkage north from the A30 using Oaklands Avenue but also involving the creation of a new/upgraded route around the north east of the town as far as the A358 Furnham Road.
  4. Completion of the link south between Forton Road and the A358 Tatworth Road to provide a continuous linkage around the eastern edge of the town.

6.41 As a first step towards the implementation of the wider plan, the Millfield Link road between the A30 and the Millfield Industrial Estate must come forward as it will help create capacity for initial growth. The Millfield Link provides access to Chard for people entering the town from the east and if implemented together with other highway improvements creates the capacity for additional homes, employment growth and retail development.

6.42 It is considered that the LDA Consultant’s work and that of the Chard Project Board establishes overall viability and a governance framework to address implementation concerns in the long term. The key to delivery is seen to be the commencement of Phase II of the allocation, identified by LDA Consultants for some 446 dwellings, 1.24 ha of employment land, 0.43ha of retail and a link road between the A30 and Millfield Lane. Thomas Lister Consultants, working to the Economic Development Manager and the Chard delivery officer team have sought to bring forward definite proposals for Phase II with developers and landowners.

6.43 The key findings of the Feasibility Report are set out below:

  1. The principle of SCC and SSDC seeking to deliver the Millfield Link, through acquisition of those interests necessary to provide the highways infrastructure. Identification of those enabling powers to be adopted would determine the lead partner.
  2. Detailed research and investigations be carried out to confirm the viability and anticipated costs associated with construction of the Millfield Link in the location and design as identified in the Chard Regeneration Framework or some alternative suitable location.
  3. Ensure that budgetary provision is made to procure an Environmental Impact Assessment, acquire land and property interests, obtain planning permission and procure construction of the highways infrastructure.
  4. The principle of utilising those funding mechanisms available to offset initial expenditure, considered most likely to be in the form of CIL contributions but with other sources potentially identified.
  5. Seek to progress land acquisitions through negotiated settlements.
  6. Seek to progress acquisition through the Compulsory Acquisition process in the event that negotiated settlements are not achievable within a reasonable timescale.

6.44 In the absence of private sector take up over a number of years the Consultants advocate intervention by South Somerset District Council in order to enable development.  This would be by way of Compulsory Purcharse Order (CPO) proceedings.

6.45 The Council has concluded on the feasibility work as follows:

  1. That the CEDA be affirmed by virtue of an appropriate mechanism for delivery being established by the Feasibility Report.
  2. Note that the use of CPO powers may need to be considered to ensure the delivery of the Millfield Link road in Chard with further details to be presented once the Local Plan Examination Inspector’s report has been received.
  3. That the resources (financial and officer resources) required as part of any consideration of the use of CPO powers (as outlined in 2 above) are fully costed and considered as part of the Medium Term Financial plan process in close co-operation with the Council's Solicitor.
  4. Negotiations to continue with perspective developers of Phase II to secure an agreed private sector development.

6.46 It is considered that a clear and workable mechanism to deliver the key immediate phase of the CEDA has been established and in recognition that there are risks in this, a risk mitigation strategy is also proposed. It is therefore affirmed that the Chard strategic allocation can be delivered if necessary through Council intervention and as such should be supported because of the local support it has received and the benefits that it brings to Chard.

6.47 The prospect of delay whilst a Local Plan is progressed to adoption as well as the potential CPO proceedings required would mean that the housing trajectory for Chard should be amended with an anticipated delay in construction to 2016. This would result in the prospective delivery of dwellings for Chard in the Plan period being 1,861 including 521 dwellings already committed with a further 1,376 dwellings after 2028.

6.48 The removal of the no development designations saved from the previous local plan removes the potential conflict between that designation and proposals for development from the Chard Regeneration Framework around Holyrood School.

10. Chard Regeneration Framework, Implementation Plan, October 2010 [back]
11. Detailed phasing is set out in the Chard Regeneration Framework, Implementation Plan, October 2010 [back]
12. Feasibility Report in respect of Chard Eastern Development Area, January 2012, Thomas Lister Ltd [back]
Infrastructure

6.49 The Infrastructure Plan[13] (IP) reflects the infrastructure requirements set out in the Chard Regeneration Plan.

Policy PMT2: Chard Phasing

To ensure the timely delivery of highway and other infrastructure to support the proposed growth of Chard, a phased approach to delivery will be taken with the following to be delivered:

Within the plan period:

  • 1861 dwellings
  • 13 hectares of employment land
  • 1 new primary school
  • 2 neighbourhood centres (Millfields & Holbear)
  • Sports and open space provision
Post 2028:
  • 1376 dwellings
  • 6 hectares of employment land
  • 1 new primary school
  • 2 neighbourhood centres (Avishayes & Stop Line Slopes)
In order to ensure the timely delivery of the necessary infrastructure to support the growth, phases will be delivered in the order set out in the Chard Implementation Plan.  Any deviation from that phasing sequence should be justified and it should be demonstrated that the proposal will not compromise the delivery of the total growth.
 
Delivery

6.50 The following delivery bodies will be key in implementing Policy PMT2:

  • South Somerset District Council;
  • Somerset County Council;
  • Town and Parish Councils;
  • Developers and Landowners;
  • Infrastructure Providers.
Monitoring Indicators[14] Target   
Net additional housing in Chard   1861 dwellings built at Chard between 2006 and 2028
Net additional employment land (‘B’ uses) in Chard (2006-2028) 13 ha of ‘B’ use employment land built at Chard between 2006 and 2028
New primary school in Chard (2006-2028) 1 new primary school built at Chard between 2006 and 2028 
New neighbourhood centres in Chard (2006-2028) 2 new neighbourhood centres built at Chard between 2006 and 2028
Sports and open space provision  Relocation of Chard Town Football Club, creation of ‘Green Heart’ between 2006 and 2028 
13. South Somerset Infrastructure Plan, Tym and Partners, 2012 [back]
14. Monitoring indicators are provided for the plan period only [back]