Solihull Local Plan (Draft Submission) 2020

Ended on the 14th December 2020
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(8) Solihull Town Centre & Mature Suburbs

The Area Now

  1. Solihull Town Centre is a strong, vibrant and regionally important Centre containing a wide variety of shops, businesses and civic services. The 'mature suburbs' area that forms part of the urban area includes the largely residential suburbs of Elmdon, Hillfield, Lyndon, Monkspath, Olton, Shirley and Solihull. These areas benefit from good schools and strong local centres.
  2. The Mature Suburbs adjoin Birmingham to the west and north, with countryside that is part of the Meriden Gap and the M42 to the east, and Green Belt to the south. The combined population of the Mature Suburbs is just under 100,000 in some 41,000 households.
  3. The Mature Suburbs are characterised by Victorian and Edwardian development, the Grand Union canal and railway network, a tighter urban grain, extensive gardens and parks. There are also substantial recreational facilities, such as Olton, Robin Hood and Widney Manor golf clubs and Olton Mere. More modern housing estates are characterised by an open plan, cul-de-sac layout with on-plot parking and a predominance of detached and semi-detached properties. Shirley Town Centre provides for much of the needs of the west of the area, and has benefitted from significant investment at its heart, whilst there are district centres at Hobs Moat, Hatchford Brook, Shelly Farm and Olton. This area is home to a variety of employment opportunities located in the Solihull and Fore Business Parks and JLR, as well as in the established Cranmore and Monkspath area.
  4. Solihull Town Centre is enriched by its attractive historic core of St. Alphege church, the Square and the High Street, and contains retail, commercial and cultural facilities. To the north and south of the Town Centre, the more modern retail developments of the 1960s precinct style Mell Square and the early 21st Century Touchwood development broaden its offer. To the south and east lie Malvern and Brueton Parks, which provide extensive areas of land for informal recreation within walking distance of the Town Centre. Tudor Grange Park to the south-west provides opportunities for more formal sport and recreation.
  5. Both the 2006 UDP and 2013 SLP identified large scale development opportunities for Shirley town centre that made provision for significant new residential development to be provided. The Parkgate scheme opened in 2014 and redevelopment of the Powergen site is now complete.
  6. There is an extensive educational campus to the south-west of Solihull Town Centre containing Alderbrook, St Peter's and Tudor Grange secondary schools, together with Solihull College. Immediately to the north of the Town Centre is Solihull School. On the edge of the Mature Suburbs to the south of the Town Centre is the Sixth Form College. These establishments are located within walking distance of Solihull Town Centre. The north of the area is catered for by Lode Heath and Lyndon schools, whilst Langley and Light Hall schools provide secondary education in the west and south. Many of the schools suffer from traffic congestion at opening and closing times.
  7. Solihull has a transport interchange at the Western edge of the town centre which has a bus interchange and rail services to Birmingham, Leamington Spa and London, together with the Borough's main bus interchange. This rail line also serves Olton and Hillfield/Monkspath at Widney Manor. There is also a rail station west of Shirley with services to Birmingham and Stratford.

The Area in the Future

  1. The Mature Suburbs are substantially developed with few opportunities for significant growth. Being mainly residential, there are relatively few brownfield land opportunities. The Town Centre, which has grown significantly for a generation, is likely to experience some restructuring with opportunities for a wider range of uses including residential in the future.
  2. Both Solihull rail station and the Town Centre road system are already congested at peak times and are likely to experience increased passenger numbers/vehicle movements in the future. The improvements to Junction 6 of the M42, involving a new 2.5km long dual carriageway to the west of the motorway that will relieve the pressure on junction 6.However this may increase pressures for growth on the green belt land to the east of the Mature Suburbs. It is too early to robustly review the impact of this infrastructure or any potential safeguarding opportunities it may create however and this will need to be examined further as part of later Local Plan reviews.

What is Required for the Area in the Future?

  1. There are limited opportunities for growth in the Mature Suburbs reflecting the built up nature of the area and the importance of maintaining the attractive open spaces that are so important to the Borough's character and wellbeing.
  2. Restructuring of Solihull Town Centre – A refreshed master plan for Solihull Town Centre will highlight opportunities for alternative uses whilst ensuring that sufficient land is retained for retail and commercial uses. The masterplan highlights the potential for the identified opportunity sites to accommodate significant levels of residential development, and there are likely to be other windfall sites that come forward as the town centre evolves.
  3. Redevelopment of Solihull Rail Station - Solihull rail station will be redeveloped to provide more modern facilities capable of handling the predicted increase in passengers in future years, following the decision not to pursue its relocation to the south-east. Improvements to the pedestrian route to and from the Town Centre, some of which have already been implemented, will make the redeveloped station more accessible to commuters, students and visitors. This will be managed further through the new Town Centre Masterplan.
  4. Improving accessibility to and around Solihull Town Centre - A key challenge will be to manage the anticipated increase in traffic in the area, especially around Solihull Town Centre and the major road corridors. The Council is undertaking studies looking at key junctions within and close to the Town Centre. However, encouraging more people to use public transport, cycling and walking, rather than the private car for journeys to the Town Centre will be essential. Improving routes to/from the Town Centre and links to the adjacent parks for cyclists and pedestrians would help to make these alternative modes of travel more attractive.
  5. Development Opportunities in Shirley Town Centre – Following completion of the Parkgate development and redevelopment of the Powergen site there are limited opportunities for further large scale developments, and therefore any further residential dwellings are likely to arise from windfall developments.
  6. Re-use of Land allocated for Business/Retail Purposes – There are areas of older industrial estates that may be recycled for new uses, such as at Cranmore to the west and Lode Lane to the north. Most of the available land for business use has been developed, and some business areas may be available for alternative uses.
  7. Community Infrastructure Levy – Presently in areas like the Mature Suburbs and Solihull Town Centre which are not covered by a town or parish council, 15% of the collected funds will be spent in the area. The Local Authority will engage with the local community and agree with them how best to spend the funding. This can include simple relatively low cost actions through to more substantial projects. Site SO1 is dealt with in this chapter as it functions as an extension of the urban area, but as noted elsewhere, the area is located within Hampton in Arden parish and therefore the Parish Council will receive directly a proportion of CIL from the site.
  8. Provision of affordable housing – This will be challenging given the lack of significant opportunities for new housing in the Mature Suburbs. However, opportunities for housing will be identified through the refreshed Town Centre Master plan and the urban extension to the east, which will provide a proportion of affordable housing.
  9. 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.
  10. 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 enhancements to the green belt in the vicinity of Site 16 East of Solihull.

Proposed Approach

  1. Whilst significant retail or commercial growth in the Town Centre is unlikely, retaining the existing Town Centre boundary will provide opportunities for a broader range of uses. Given that the Town Centre is the most accessible location in the Borough, it will be important that uses that attract significant numbers of visitors will be able to find sites there. However, there are likely to be opportunities for significant residential or mixed residential and commercial uses. Higher densities can be accommodated as owning a car in this highly accessible location will not be essential. The refreshed masterplan will provide the necessary evidence for the quantum of growth for different uses.
  2. A mix of market and affordable housing, as well as smaller market homes for young people wishing to remain in the area and specialist housing to meet the needs of older people will be provided in the settlement. This will seek to align the types and sizes of homes to be made available and the needs of the community. However, there will need to be a careful balance struck between making the most efficient use of land and respecting the character of the local area.
  3. Some of the sites, in particular site SO1 (east of Solihull), have multiple and potential complex land assembly issues. It is important that sites such as this are considered in a comprehensive manner to avoid piecemeal developments occurring. This needn't necessarily preclude a phased approach where one parcel of land or part of a site may be available for development in advance of another, but this should be in accordance with an approach agreed by the Council and all relevant landowners/development promoters. This will include joint responsibility for the provision of infrastructure, and this latter point will also be relevant to other sites around the village which also need to ensure they contribute towards the provision of the required infrastructure.

Proposed Allocations

(70) Policy SO1 - East of Solihull

  1. The site is allocated for 700 dwellings.
  2. Development of this site should be broadly consistent with the principles of the Concept Masterplan for this site, which includes the following:
    1. Preserving the setting of the Grade II listed Field Farm and 239 Lugtrout Lane. Development should be set back from the immediate locality to avoid harm. Only if harm cannot be avoided should mitigation be considered, and then it should be fully justified and demonstrated to be successful in reducing harm;
    2. Provision of 4.6ha of public open space including children's play. Any formal play features will need to be sympathetic to the historic setting of Field Farm and 239 Lugtrout Lane;
    3. Retention of existing sports pitch.
    4. On site accommodation for older people in accordance with Policy P4E
    5. 5% of open market dwellings to be provided in the form of Self and Custom Build Plots in accordance with Policy 4D
  3. Likely infrastructure requirements will include:
    1. Financial contribution to education provision as required by the Local Education Authority;
    2. Developer contributions to primary care health services in the vicinity and appropriate UHB secondary care services in the wider CCG catchment.
    3. Highway improvements as required including speed reduction measures and access improvements along Damson Parkway and Lugtrout Lane
    4. Appropriate measures to promote and enhance sustainable modes of transport including pedestrian and cycle connectivity towards Solihull Town Centre and Elmdon.
  4. Green Belt enhancements will include:
    1. Biodiversity enhancements
    2. Access improvements to the wider Green Belt beyond the site boundary, including pedestrian access to Hampton Lane.
  5. The Concept Masterplan document should be read alongside this policy. Whilst the concept masterplans may be subject to change in light of further work that may need to be carried out at the planning application stage, any significant departure from the principles outlined for Site SO1 will need to be justified and demonstrate that the overall vision and objectives for the site and its wider context are not compromised.

Justification

  1. This allocation takes the form of an urban extension close to Solihull Town Centre. It will be located on land to the rear of the ribbon development that fronts the northern side of Hampton Lane. As a revision to the site put forward in the DLP, the northern boundary of the site is now intended to be formed by the Grand Union canal. This will enable the land between Lugtrout lane and the canal to come forward for development. The eastern boundary of the site will be formed by Field Lane.
  2. The allocation lies within the Green Belt and it is immediately adjacent to the built up area of the settlement and would represent a continuation of the existing developed area. The site lies within a parcel of lower performing Green Belt and is influenced by built development either within the site or in the immediate vicinity to the site. The site is relatively well-contained and a defensible Green Belt boundary could be provided using the Grand Union Canal and Field Lane.
  3. The site performs well in terms of accessibility to all key services and facilities, as well as public transport and the scale of any proposed development could see public transport improvements secured.
  4. The Landscape Assessment (2016) states that the area on the fringe of Solihull has medium landscape value and medium overall sensitivity to new development. Therefore, the concept masterplan proposes to retain the historic landscape including the rural character of Field Lane. Careful mitigation of Heritage assets is required for the site, including the Grade II Listed Field Farm and 239 Lugtrout Lane. Development will need to consider these assets in the design of any future scheme.
  5. Playing pitches on the site are currently occupied by Coldlands Colts Boys FC and will need to be retained.
  6. This site appears in the Solihull chapter as it functions as an extension to the urban area, but it should be noted that it falls within the parish of Hampton in Arden.

(11) Policy S02 - Moat Lane Depot

  1. The site is allocated for 90 dwellings.
  2. Development of this site should be broadly consistent with the principles of the Concept Masterplan for this site, which includes the following:
    1. Provision of 0.7ha public open space including doorstep and local play facilities.
    2. An integrated drainage, landscape and ecological strategy should be developed for the site, which seeks to remedy the drainage is issues on the site as an opportunity to enhance place-making
  3. Likely infrastructure requirements will include:
    1. Financial contribution to education provision as required by the Local Education Authority;
    2. Developer contributions to primary care health services in the vicinity and appropriate UHB secondary care services in the wider CCG catchment;
    3. Appropriate measures to promote and enhance sustainable modes of transport including pedestrian and cycle connectivity towards Solihull Town Centre
    4. On site doorstep play facilities
    5. Surface water flood mitigation including an integrated drainage, landscape and ecological strategy, seeking to support place-making on the site.
  4. The Concept Masterplan document should be read alongside this policy. Whilst the concept masterplans may be subject to change in light of further work that may need to be carried out at the planning application stage any significant departure from the principles outlined for Site SO2 will need to be justified and demonstrate that the overall vision and objectives for the site and its wider context are not compromised.

Justification

  1. This brownfield site is located in the urban area and is formed from the existing Council depot and industrial estate, which are expected to become available during the Plan period. The site performs well in terms of accessibility to all key services and facilities, as well as public transport.
  2. The Level 2 Strategic Flood Risk Assessment includes this site as surface water flood risks are present, passing through the centre of the site. Any development at this location will need careful design consideration to the opportunities to reduce flood risk within the site boundary and provide flood alleviation downstream.

Developments in Solihull Town Centre

  1. The Draft Town Centre master plan,2016 identifies potential for housing development in a number of the Opportunity Sites. The refreshed master plan will update the opportunity sites to reflect changes since the original document was prepared. The Masterplan will also be maintained as a live document helping to facilitate the delivery of regeneration sites and continue shaping the future of Solihull town centre alongside key stakeholders.
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