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Improved Public Transport – A higher population gives greater potential for improved public transport services to be viable, e.g. better frequency of bus services.
Pedestrian and Cycling Connectivity – Cycling and walking links to Whitlock's End station, village centres, local services and Shirley town centre will be improved to facilitate active travel and reduce car dependency, especially for short journeys.
Highway improvements – It is likely that highway improvements will be required at various locations in the settlement, as well as capitalising on highway improvement initiatives along the Stratford Road. These could include speed reduction measures, access and junction improvements around development sites, highway capacity improvements or adjustments to traffic priority arrangements.
Parking Improvements – The provision of appropriate additional off-street parking may be considered in Dickens Heath.
New Primary School – Pupils arising from Site 4 will be accommodated at the recently expanded Tidbury Green Primary school. A new two-form entry primary school, however, will be required to serve Sites 11, 12 and 25. The draft concept masterplans show the school situated on Site 12. Funding for the school will be expected via section 106 agreements associated with the development of the allocated sites.
Health provision – The Council will work with the Clinical Commissioning Group to establish the impact of new development on local GPs and other services, and how this can be addressed.
Sports and Recreation - Replacement of any lost recreation / sports provision as a result of development will be required to an equivalent or better standard, including access and use by the wider community where appropriate.
Play and Open Space - Provision of play and areas of open space within potential development sites will be required. There is also a need to ensure that best use is made of existing green and blue infrastructure assets within development sites, together with provision for linkages to the surrounding area.
Concept Master Plans – The plans that accompany this consultation, for the principal sites, include a draft concept masterplan. These seek to identify the key existing features of a site that may need to be retained, and show at a high level where development is envisaged within the wider site. This is to ensure that when development proposals move to the planning application stage, there is certainty about the important elements of the development, e.g. appropriate green infrastructure and other requirements. Whilst this may result in a lower gross to net developable area, this will demonstrate that a quality development can be provided which makes efficient use of land and respects local character.
Green Belt Enhancements – The revised NPPF makes provision for environmental and/or access improvements to be undertaken to land that is to remain in the Green Belt to compensate for land that is taken up for development. This provides an opportunity for additional accessible open space, particularly in the area south of the existing urban edge and between the new urban extensions and the rural settlements (Dickens Heath & Cheswick Green)
Community Infrastructure Levy – Presently the parish councils will directly receive 15% of the levy collected in the area. This will increase to 25% once any Neighbourhood Plans are adopted. This will provide a significant source of funding that can be used to take forward appropriate projects that the community have identified as priorities. This can include simple relatively low cost actions (e.g. further traffic regulation orders) through to more substantial projects. It will be for the parish councils to decide how this 'local' element of the CIL receipts is to be spent and there is potential for partnership working to maximise the use of monies from this source.
Affordable Housing – Affordable housing will be required on development sites in accordance with adopted planning policy.
Site 4 – West of Dickens Heath (capacity 350)
This proposed allocation comprises two parcels of land to the west of the existing village. The smaller parcel extends along the north of Tythe Barn Lane and bounded by the Stratford-upon-Avon canal to the north, and hedgerow to the west. The larger site is bounded by Tilehouse Lane to the west, Tythe Barn Lane to the north and Birchy Leasowes Lane to the south.
The smaller site is an existing arable field with few constraints. Views onto and access to the Stratford-upon-Avon canal will be enhanced, whilst retaining its important function as a wildlife corridor and key piece of green infrastructure.
The larger site is currently occupied by Highgate United FC, Leafield FC and Old Yardleians Rugby Football Club, and re-provision will be required for these sports pitches. Tythe Barn Meadows Local Wildlife Site to the west will be retained, as will the integrity of Little Tyburn Coppice, a remnant ancient woodland. Tyburn Farm pastures has recently been confirmed as a LWS, it is the area north of Tythe Lane running up to the canal. The LWSs are expected to impact upon the ability to re-provide the playing fields within the site and therefore alternative options for their re-provision will need to pursued. Development proposals could include options that sees the retention of the existing garden centre, or it could be redeveloped to provide residential accommodation.
The sites are located within a moderately performing parcel of Green Belt, with the highest score for purpose 1 'to check the unrestricted sprawl of large built up areas.' However, the sites are opportunely located in very close proximity to Whitlock's End Station, which has 3 train services per hour to the centre of Birmingham with a short journey time of 20 minutes. Furthermore, local services and shops in Dickens Heath village centre will be easily accessible by foot or bicycle, and it is important that convenient links are provided.
The Landscape Assessment (2016) states that the Blythe area has medium landscape value but high overall sensitivity to new development. As such, the draft concept masterplan proposes to retain historic landscape features, such as hedgerows and standard trees, and the meadows and woodland designated as Local Wildlife Sites.
Highway improvements will be required to the surrounding roads, and a pedestrian/cycling link north of the hedgerow along Tythe Barn Lane is proposed to provide a safe route to Whitlocks End Station.
The Green (capacity 640)
151. This site is not located in the Green Belt and has a long history of accommodating commercial uses, especially those associated with the automotive industry. Since 2004 planning permission has been available for mixed use developments at the site (including B1 uses). However only the non-B1 uses were taken up and the DLP included proposals for increased residential development at the site. Since 1st April 2018 planning permission has either been granted or sought for residential development of nearly 650 units on the basis that the remaining B1 uses on the site will relocate. This will provide an opportunity to make efficient use of the land for residential purposes and infrastructure planning (mostly notably the provision of a new primary school) should be co-ordinated with sites 12 and 26.
This consultation proposes to extend Site 12 further east towards Creynolds Lane and the Stratford Road and accommodate up to 1000 dwellings. Site 12 is within a parcel of moderately performing Green Belt, and given the existing field structure, does not have a clear contiguous defensible Green Belt boundary to the south. This will need to be provided by a strong edge to the proposed development e.g. a new road, which will demarcate the built-up area from the surrounding countryside and provide a meaningful gap with Cheswick Green.
As with Site 4, the draft concept masterplan proposes to retain historic landscape features, such as hedgerows, standard trees and ponds. Any development around the Grade II listed building will be sensitive to its historic setting. There will be legible and accessible pedestrian and cycling links going north to Site 11 and west towards Shirley town centre, and south towards the Country Park. New development will avoid Flood Zones 2 and 3, and betterment will be sought where possible to alleviate flood risk downstream.
The draft concept masterplans propose situating a new primary school in the heart of Site 12, to reduce journey times for pupils from Site 11 and Site 12.
Site 26 – Whitlock's End Farm (capacity 300)
The DLP included (as site 13) land south of Shirley between Whitlock's End Farm and Dickens Heath Road. This was expected to provide some 600 dwellings. Rather than pursuing this option, the Council now intends to include just the land at the Christmas tree farm land holding (albeit not all of it) which is to the west of site 13. This is now included as site 26.
Site 26 will extend up to the western edge of the Borough where the boundary is marked by the Stratford railway line, and being on an embankment at this point the rail line itself will help provide visual separation between the new development and the built up area of Major's Green to the west (which is in Bromsgrove District). Although this site now includes land in a Green Belt parcel that scores highly, it is considered that this represents a trade off with the higher accessibility of the site being located on the urban edge close to where need arises.
Most forms of development in this area will reduce the gap between the urban edge and Dickens Heath. This will be reduced to approximately 300m (from 600m) and this should be seen as the minimum necessary to provide a meaningful gap provided it only occurs over a narrow front (i.e. just a pinch point) rather than over a broad front that simply results in a uniform corridor like gap between the urban edge and Dickens Heath.
Pursuing an urban extension in this from is expected to result in the following advantages over site 13 as proposed in the DLP:
Option 26 provides for a narrower front where only the minimum separation between the urban edge and Dickens Heath is provided (by shifting more of the development to the west thus being 'off set' from the built up area of Dickens Heath). Furthermore it avoids further development in the gap between the urban edge and Dickens Heath along Dickens Heath Road which is the principal route south from the urban edge to the village – as such this is where the perception of the gap should be at its greatest.
Development under site 26 would also allow the retention of more land as open and accessible space south of Woodloes Road, so that it can connect with open countryside further south. This could form part of the Green Belt compensation enhancements in that access improvements and habitat creation in this area would help off set the loss of Green Belt to the west.
Shifting the focus of vehicular traffic movements away from the congested Dickens Heath Road to Bills Lane/Haslucks Green Road.