Boost for Nexus 25 employment site

TAUNTON’s planned strategic employment site – Nexus 25 – has gained a major boost within days of the Borough Council’s decision resolving to approve the Local Development Order (LDO).

The site, offering direct access to the M5, is crucial to Taunton Deane Borough Council’s ambitious growth and development plans that go hand-in-hand with its status as the South West’s only Garden Town.

Summerfield Developments – which owns the 61-acre site – has announced that Henry Boot developments has been selected to bring forward the employment site which has the potential to create 3,000 jobs locally.

“This is the best start we could wish for in 2018,” said Cllr Mark Edwards, deputy leader of the council and lead member for business development. “It is good to hear that Henry Boot Developments describes Nexus 25 as ‘pivotal’ and a catalyst for the town, securing its place as one of the region’s major growth centres.

“It is a hugely exciting scheme and underlines our commitment to Taunton Deane as the place to do business with provision of high quality jobs. Taunton is growing and as the best connected town in the South West for business, it is essential we deliver a balanced economy of housing, jobs and leisure together with improved infrastructure to match.”

Nexus 25 will provide a range of flexible premises providing space for research and development, health, education, and digital technology alongside high quality offices, light industrial units and warehouses. Designed as a ‘Green Campus,’ the site will include walkways and landscaping to create an environment in line with Taunton’s Garden Town status.

The LDO was prepared by Peter Brett Associates (PBA) and LHC Design on behalf of the council. The documents set out the planning and design principles and other site-specific requirements which will guide the development of the Nexus 25 site.

The plans for Nexus 25 were unveiled in March this year and this was followed by an informal consultation and a subsequent statutory consultation where residents and other stakeholders were invited to comment on the LDO. The Council took account of all responses received and, after meeting to discuss the plans for Nexus 25, voted to approve plans to adopt the LDO.

The LDO will be implemented once improvements at J25 are confirmed. Money has been provided for this work and the scheme is currently awaiting planning approval from Somerset County Council.
LDOs were introduced by the Government to enable local planning authorities to speed up the implementation of planned developments, while ensuring that all the usual environmental safeguards are applied.

Mary Crew, PBA Associate, said: “The resolution to approve the LDO is a positive step for Taunton and for the planning process as a whole. LDOs are a significant move towards simplifying the planning process, creating a more certain planning environment which is attractive to investors. LDOs, as seen here with the development of the Nexus 25 site, can secure positive growth for an area while retaining all the environmental protections provided by traditional planning permissions.”

The proposals for Nexus 25 have been developed by a team drawn from the public and private sectors. Key partners include the Borough Council, Somerset County Council, the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership, Highways England, the Environment Agency, Summerfield Developments and Henry Boot Developments.

‘Lost Lines’ report ignites hope for Wellington

GOVERNMENT proposals that could see the reopening of rail routes lost half a century ago are being welcomed by Taunton Deane Borough Council.

The authority has been working with partners, including local MP Rebecca Pow, towards the reopening of Wellington station that shut in 1964 under the Beeching axe.

The council wants to see a Metro-style link opened to connect with Taunton and Exeter and helped to fund a business case for the bid, working with neighbouring councils in Devon, Somerset County Council, the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and the MP.

The link would also see a new station opening at Cullompton in Mid Devon as part of the joint project.

Cllr Mark Edwards, deputy leader of the Borough Council, has led the campaign and welcomed the announcement from Transport Secretary Chris Grayling today (Wednesday November 29) that lines closed in the 1960s could be reopened.

Cllr Edwards said: “Today’s report is very welcome – we have genuine support for our proposal to reopen Wellington’s station and reconnect the town to the rail network.

“Extensive work has taken place on possible network timetabling – and that has confirmed that the proposal is definitely feasible.

“We are now carrying out more detailed work on the business case and are hopeful that it will be ready in the spring.

“Wellington is a growing town and the station would provide a real lifeline to residents and businesses.”

Wellington Station first opened in 1843 but fell victim to Dr Beeching, chairman of the British Transport Commission, who recommended mass cuts to the nation’s loss-making railways. More than 2,000 railway stations closed as a result.

 

Nexus 25: The next steps

Plans to create a high quality employment site on the outskirts of Taunton – with the potential to create thousands of jobs – are moving forward.

Taunton Deane Borough Council is working with public and private sector partners to deliver the strategic employment site – Nexus 25 – at J25 of the M5 motorway.

The development is being created as a ‘green campus.’ Space for a variety of uses such as research and development and high quality offices, alongside light industrial units and warehouses will provide a range of flexible premises suitable for many types of business. More than 3,000 jobs could be created at the site, boosting Taunton’s role as a major growth centre in the South West.

Walkways and landscaping including tree planting will create an environment in line with Taunton’s new Garden Town status.

The Borough Council is using a Government planning mechanism to fast-track the process – a Local Development Order (LDO). LDOs were introduced by the Government to enable local authorities to speed up the planning process, while ensuring that the usual environmental safeguards are properly applied.

It also allows the Council to have greater control and give greater guidance on what is being sought from a development rather than just waiting for what might be submitted to the Council as a planning application.

Ultimately it will help increase the likelihood of development being achieved; it could make it happen more quickly; and will allow the Council to give better guidance on the types of development that would be acceptable.

The council held two consultations on the LDO: informally in March 2017 when the nature of the proposals were set out and representations invited on a number of questions about the proposals; the second, statutory consultation took place over six weeks, rather than the prescribed four, ending on August 31.

All responses to the consultation will now be considered by the Council’s Community Scrutiny Committee on 14 November. The Committee will make recommendations to be considered by Full Council in December when members will decide whether to adopt the LDO and agree to officers’ recommendations of approval.

 

If adopted, the LDO could not be implemented until improvements at J25 are confirmed. Money has been provided for this work and the scheme is currently awaiting planning approval from Somerset County Council.
Cllr Roger Habgood, Executive member for planning policy, said using a Local Development Order was the right choice for the site.

“LDOs were introduced by the Government to enable local planning authorities such as Taunton Deane to speed up the implementation of planned development, while ensuring that all the usual safeguards are applied.

“Once approved by the Council, the LDO will set out the extent and nature of the proposed development together with all the criteria and requirements that proposals must meet to satisfy the terms of the Order. Developers must demonstrate to the Council that their proposals satisfy the requirements of the LDO before they can proceed. In essence, it gives us far greater control at an earlier stage.”

“The fact that the Local Economic Partnership (LEP) has allocated significant funding for the road improvements demonstrates the importance of this site to the local and regional economy,” said Cllr Mark Edwards, Deputy Leader and Executive member for business development.

Leader of the Council, John Williams, added: “We, are committed to provide the high quality, long-term jobs that our economy needs. Taunton is growing and it is essential we deliver a balanced economy of housing, jobs and leisure tog with improved infrastructure to match.”

There has been extensive preparatory work on floodplain modelling work, transport issues and a full environmental statement. The effect of carrying out this work is to take control of the process, enhancing the attractiveness of the development to those looking to develop new employment sites, in a competitive market, and also to shorten the likely timescale before new jobs come to fruition.

Staplegrove Development

Taunton Deane Borough Council’s planning committee has resolved to grant outline planning consent for two developments at Staplegrove on the outskirts of Taunton.

The applications are for up to 915 homes, a primary school, employment land, local centre and open space on land at Staplegrove (east). The application was submitted by PM Asset Management Ltd.

A similar application submitted by Ptarmigan Staplegrove Ltd was for up to 713 homes, employment land, green infrastructure, landscaping, play area and sustainable urban drainage systems at Staplegrove (west).

Both applications included provision for a spine road to connect the A358 Staplegrove Road and Kingston Road. The Council has recently submitted a bid to the Government’s Housing Infrastructure Fund, which would help to secure the early delivery of the spine road and wider community infrastructure. The outcome of this bid is expected in the coming months.

The applications were initially considered by the committee in September but deferred for further consideration and for officers to negotiate with both applicants on matters including access, affordable housing provision and wider traffic implications.

After a debate lasting four hours, the committee agreed to support both applications subject to S106 agreements covering affordable housing, highways, access, provision of land for play, sports and allotments.

The developments at Staplegrove represent one of the three new garden communities being planned by the Borough Council under its garden Town status.

Taunton was named as the only new Garden Town in the South West by the Government at the start of this year.

The status recognises Taunton Deane Borough Council’s strategy to deliver major regeneration in the town centre, new sustainable communities, improved transport and supporting infrastructure, marrying development with access to green spaces.

Development centres on new garden communities identified in Monkton Heathfield, Comeytrowe/Trull and Staplegrove.

Construction is well under way in Monkton Heathfield while resolutions to grant planning consent have been agreed for Comeytrowe/Trull and now Staplegrove.

The Government has awarded the Borough Council a total of £725,000 to date to help the authority achieve its Garden Town ambitions.

Taunton Deane Borough Council recognises the importance of planning and delivering supporting infrastructure alongside growth and was one of the first authorities to implement Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL).

Future CIL and New Homes Bonus (NHB) funding will help to make sure the necessary infrastructure is delivered and provide match funding for key projects.

“We are investing £16.6m of NHB funding to ensure strategic projects happen,” said Leader of the council, Cllr John Williams. “We are aware of existing community concerns about transport links, facilities like schools and community facilities and our commitment is very much in line with the Government’s preference that NHB funding is used to ensure local communities benefit from growth-related income.

“This allocation of a six-figure sum to improve our capacity to deliver our Garden Town ambition is a real vote of confidence in Taunton as a strategic centre in the South West and a credit to our team.”

Garden Town funding announced

TAUNTON is being awarded more Government funding to help achieve its Garden Town ambitions, sharing a £2.5m pot with other designated communities.

The local award – £375,000 – is funding designed to help Taunton Deane Borough Council make progress with vital planning work to deliver Garden Town principles.

The money is the second award to be made as the council was awarded £350,000 when Taunton was officially announced as the South West’s only Garden Town in the New Year.

Announcing the award, Communities Secretary Sajid Javid said: “Locally-led garden towns have enormous potential to deliver the homes that communities need. This new funding will help support the construction of more than 155,000 homes in nine places across the country. New communities not only deliver homes, but also bring new jobs and facilities and a big boost to local economies.”

In Taunton Deane, work that needs to be completed includes:
• Drawing up planning blueprints for key sites under the Garden Town plan
• Moving ahead with infrastructure planning – such as roads – and developing a plan to deliver the infrastructure
• Progressing infrastructure projects to help deliver the new garden communities and Taunton town centre regeneration sites
The Council is already investing significant staff resources across the authority to deliver the Garden Town programme, with priority areas including town centre regeneration schemes, new garden communities, the new strategic employment site, flood alleviation and strategy development. This new award will allow us to continue the good work already being done.

Taunton Deane Borough Council recognises the importance of planning and delivering supporting infrastructure alongside growth and was one of the first authorities to implement Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL).

Future CIL and New Homes Bonus (NHB) funding will help to make sure the necessary infrastructure is delivered and provide match funding for key projects.

“We are investing £16.6m of NHB funding to ensure strategic projects happen,” said Cllr John Williams. “We are aware of existing community concerns about transport links, facilities like schools and health centres and our commitment is very much in line with the Government’s preference that NHB funding is used to ensure local communities benefit from growth-related income.
“This allocation of a six-figure sum to improve our capacity to deliver our Garden Town ambition is a real vote of confidence in Taunton as a strategic centre in the South West and a credit to our team that put our bid together.”

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