Planning Consultation

Background

Hallam Land Management is the owner of the land adjacent to the north of Cotford St. Luke.

We specialise in strategic land and planning promotion, using our expertise in working with local planning authorities to help deliver sustainable growth and development to meet the needs of local areas.

Location-Plan

The Site and Surroundings

Cotford St. Luke is a relatively new village having been built on the site of former NHS Tone Vale Hospital (and before that the Somerset and Bath Asylum for Psychiatric Patients) following its closure in 1995.

An allocation for the new settlement was included in the West Dean Local Plan (1997) and carried forward to the Taunton Dean Local Plan (2004) as an 850 dwelling scheme. Since then, there has only been limited, small scale residential development and growth.

The Site itself is unaffected by high level constraints – it is:

  • located within Flood Zone 1 (area of lowest risk)
  • outside of the AONB or other local landscape designation
  • not unduly restricted by built heritage
  • accessible directly from Dene Road, being the main thoroughfare into the village

The village is a sustainable location for new development, as demonstrated through the allocation of the land directly to the east of the site for 60 dwellings in the Taunton Deane Site Allocations and Development Management Plan (2016).

Planning and Phosphates

Natural England published advice in August 2020 relating to the impact of phosphates arising from new development on the Somerset Levels and Moors Ramsar Site. This has delayed the delivery of thousands of new homes across Somerset within the hydrological catchment of the Somerset Levels and Moors.

Until strategic mitigation measures are facilitated by local authorities and Wessex Water (including the upgrade of sewage treatment works), developments will continue to be delayed unless specific mitigation measures on a site by site basis are available. This is having a significant effect on the ability of Somerset West and Taunton Council to maintain the level of housing land supply needed to ensure sufficient market and affordable homes are built to meet the needs of the community.

We are currently exploring the options available to offset and mitigate the impact of phosphates arising from new development at the site. A solution would enable the site to come forwards and contribute to meeting the housing needs of the area, subject to other considerations.

More information is available on the Council’s website: https://www.somersetwestandtaunton.gov.uk/planning/phosphates-on-the-somerset-levels-and-moors/

Opportunities and Constraints

The development site presents a number of opportunities for Cotford St. Luke, given only limited growth has occurred since the original new settlement was built out in the 90s/00s.

For example, the local primary school has a capacity of 300 pupils, and while it is currently at circa 90% capacity, this is forecast to drop by 50+ pupils in the next 3-5 years. New residential development will allow more families to move to (or remain in) the area and sustain the primary school.

The village has a range of local facilities, but further development could help facilitate an additional local centre with, for example, retail/commercial units, flexible working space and an electric car club.

Cotford’s sustainability as a village is supported by its proximity and connectivity to Taunton. There are multiple direct road connections and several bus services throughout the day (although frequency may be currently be affected by the pandemic). To support sustainable transport, an electric car club could be provided as part of the development which would be available for everyone in village to use.

Opportunities and Constraints

Development on the site will aim to deliver an overall ‘net gain’ in biodiversity. This would be achievable with careful landscape / green infrastructure design, with much greater value than the current intensively managed arable fields.

There are currently 28 families on the Council’s affordable housing register that are in need of accommodation in Cotford St Luke. There are 8 affordable dwellings planned to the east of North Villas, leaving a requirement for a further 20 affordable dwellings. Any development would include a policy compliant 25% affordable housing and could help meet this need.

Concept Masterplan

Our initial assessment of the site’s opportunities and constraints indicates that the site could accommodate a development of around 80 dwellings, a local centre and public open space.

We have given some initial thought to the scheme and believe the development could deliver some or all of the following:

  • Around 80 dwellings
  • A mix of small and family-sized open market dwellings
  • 25% affordable housing (policy compliant) to meet the existing identified need
  • A small local centre (mix of uses TBC – which could include a small food store to supplement the village’s existing provision, flexible working space and 2-4 commercial units that could accommodate a range of facilities such as a café, pharmacy, shops etc.) including car parking
  • Electric car club – a vehicle and dedicated space for charging, plus EVC charging points at each property
  • Public open space
  • Community orchard or allotments
  • Improved pedestrian connectivity
Concept Plan

Next Steps

Following this consultation exercise, we will incorporate comments made into our emerging proposals for the site.

A number of technical assessments are being carried out in tandem, which include:

  • Transport Statement/Assessment
  • Geo-environmental Study
  • Flood Risk Assessment and Drainage Strategy
  • Tree Survey
  • Ecological Appraisal
  • Landscape and Visual Appraisal
  • Shadow HRA and Phosphate Mitigation Strategy

The consultation feedback and outcomes of these technical studies will be used to refine the development proposals.