Suffolk Coastal Local Plan - Final Draft

Final Draft Local Plan

12 Strategy for Saxmundham

Key Statistics for Saxmundham

1. Data sources provided in Appendix I – Glossary and Acronyms [back]

12.278 Saxmundham is an historic market town on the banks of the River Fromus. It is bound by the A12 to the west which provides road access to the rest of the District. The town has good rail access on the East Suffolk rail line which provides passenger services to Ipswich and Lowestoft.

12.279 The town functions as an important centre for the community of Saxmundham as well as nearby rural communities. In recent years Saxmundham has seen residential development, as well as supermarket developments, which have changed the focus of the town centre away from the High Street. Saxmundham is a town which is well placed geographically in relation to transport routes and other settlements to take advantage of town centre redevelopment opportunities to enhance the vibrancy and visitor appeal of the market town as outlined in the Suffolk Coastal Retail and Commercial Leisure Study.

12.280 The amount of employment in Saxmundham is limited with net out commuting for employment. A range of employment sites and economic opportunities exist in close proximity to Saxmundham but a significant proportion of residents travel for employment to locations such as Ipswich, Martlesham and Lowestoft.

12.281 Saxmundham Town Council has committed to undertake a Neighbourhood Plan to guide the future of their community. The Neighbourhood Plan Area was designated in August 2017 and in accordance with the Neighbourhood Planning Regulations will be required to broadly accord with the policies in the Local Plan. The Council will continue to engage and support the work being undertaken on the Saxmundham Neighbourhood Plan as the Local Plan evolves.

Policy SCLP12.28: Strategy for Saxmundham

Saxmundham will be enhanced as a market town, employment and service centre, serving a key role in meeting the needs of its residents, surrounding rural communities and visitors, recognising the opportunities related to the connections offered by the rail and A12 transport corridors.

The strategy for Saxmundham is to:

a) Enhance the vitality and vibrancy of the town centre, including through protecting and enhancing the historic core of the town and the railway station;

b) Utilise opportunities related to the presence of the railway and the proximity to the A12;

c) Diversify and expand employment opportunities;

d) Enhance pedestrian and cycle connectivity around and beyond the town, particularly to the town centre and the railway station;

e) Promote quality of life including through enhancements to networks of green infrastructure; and

f) Increase the provision of housing and affordable housing, and providing greater choice in the mix of housing available;

g) Provide for a safe and inclusive community; and

h) Protect and enhance the natural environment.

The creation of the South Saxmundham Garden Neighbourhood will provide new opportunities for housing, employment and community facilities, focused around the principles of an inclusive community and integration with Saxmundham and the surrounding countryside through enhancing green infrastructure networks.

South Saxmundham Garden Neighbourhood

272 South Saxmundham Garden Neighbourhood

Background and Context

12.282 The previous Local Plan sought to ensure that Saxmundham focused on its function as a local retail, employment and service centre which makes the most of its historic environment and connections to the rest of the District.

12.283 The South Saxmundham Garden Neighbourhood encompasses 66.6ha, development of which is expected to provide an education led scheme of approximately 800 dwellings, community facilities and employment land.

Master plan approach

12.284 It is essential that this Local Plan retains these principles and to do this there is an opportunity to take a master plan approach, informed by public engagement and multiple land owner collaboration, to deliver an education and employment led sustainable garden neighbourhood as an extension to the existing built up area, including land within the parish of Benhall. Landowner collaboration and partnership working with a range of stakeholders such as Suffolk County Council, Benhall Parish Council, Saxmundham Town Council and community groups will inform a master plan for the garden neighbourhood covering the whole site as part of a future planning application. A master plan approach covering the whole site will be used to inform individual planning applications for parcels of land as they come forward over the plan period.

12.285 To the south of Saxmundham, the landscape is characterised by Hurts Hall, an area known as 'The Layers', agricultural land, the railway line and the A12. From the south, Saxmundham is primarily accessed by the B1121 South Entrance. This provides an historic entrance to the town. The buildings at South Entrance have an historic character and are within the Conservation Area.

12.286 The Suffolk Coastal Settlement Sensitivity Assessment identified that land to the east of the B1121 is sensitive with views of Hurts Hall and the town beyond. Consultation responses have further expressed the sensitivity of The Layers to development, including the open area to the west of the B1121. A Heritage Impact Assessment has been undertaken to assess the sensitivity of the heritage surrounding the site to development, and this has highlighted the open area in the east of the site, in particular the area between the B1121 and the tree belt, as being particularly sensitive to built development. The Heritage Impact Assessment advises that built development in this part of the site should be avoided.

12.287 The Habitats Regulations Assessment has identified the need for Suitable Alternative Natural Greenspace (SANG areas) to mitigate the potential impacts of recreational disturbance on the Sandlings, Alde-Ore and Minsmere-Walberswick Special Protection Areas. The Appropriate Assessment identifies the need for SANGS to be of high quality and design to deter visitors from popular sensitive sites, to be of a sufficient scale to deter driving to European sites and to accommodate circular walks that provide a varied and high quality experience in terms of visual and other sensory factors. Development will also be expected to contribute to the Recreation Avoidance and Mitigation Strategy.

12.288 To reduce the impact of the development and alongside providing for sufficient SANG areas, significant green infrastructure provision and areas of natural green space for recreation should be integral to the layout of the Garden Neighbourhood. These areas will provide amenity value for the future community and, a variety of habitats for wildlife. Green areas will also reduce the perception of settlement coalescence between the built up areas of Benhall and Saxmundham. Ensuring the provision of appropriate green infrastructure is a fundamental part of the creation of a new community in this part of the District and will complement the existing areas of woodland, the public rights of way and the adjacent countryside. The northern part of the area to the west of the B1121 known as The Layers provides an open setting to Hurts Hall, and has the potential to be enhanced to provide a high quality area of open space which makes the most of its history and links with surrounding heritage as well as potentially contributing to SANGs requirements. Any enhancements in relation to the provision of open space in this area need to be sympathetic to the character and setting of this area and heritage assets. The southern part of this area adjoining the B1121 could remain in its existing use, and links could be retained between Benhall and the rest of the Garden Neighbourhood through existing footpaths.

12.289 Introducing a comprehensive approach to green infrastructure will allow the biodiversity networks to be enhanced both through natural processes and any management techniques that may be introduced over the plan period. Guidance from Public Health England is clear that access to the natural environment improves physical and mental health and wellbeing for communities. The approach to the development of the site with green infrastructure as an integral part of the layout and design will also provide benefits in terms of water management on the site, noting that there is an existing area of surface water flooding towards the centre of the site.

12.290 The indicative masterplan provides an indication of how the principles outlined above could be incorporated within the Garden Neighbourhood. The masterplan shows that the area to the east of the railway is expected to be characterised by the provision of informal and formal open space whilst the area to the west of the railway is expected to provide the focus for mixed use development linked to employment uses to the west of the A12.

Creating a community

12.291 Consultation responses and engagement with Suffolk County Council have highlighted the need for increased primary school provision in the Saxmundham area. Limited capacity in existing schools is increasingly acting as a barrier to the future development of Saxmundham and the surrounding communities. The provision of a primary school with early years provision would support future development in this part of the District. The exact location of a new primary school with early years provision will need to be considered early in the master planning stages to ensure it is an integral and accessible part of the design and layout of the new development, and opportunities to benefit from shared facilities with Saxmundham Free School will be supported.

12.292 To support the delivery of these requirements, residential development of approximately 800 dwellings will be required in this location. The dwellings will generate the need for primary school and early years provision but can also help facilitate additional provision of infrastructure required.

12.293 A range of dwelling types and tenures will be required in accordance with housing policies in this Local Plan. The opportunity exists to meet the needs of local people and re-establish higher standards of building design which takes into account modern environmental and energy efficient standards to create a healthy community. Dwellings targeted at younger people as well as those which meet the needs of the ageing population will be delivered as part of a mix of affordable housing and open market housing. The master plan approach should also provide for self-build dwellings.

12.294 It is expected that a mix of dwelling sizes, types and densities will be provided. The delivery of some higher density residential areas can introduce a variety of designs or different character areas into the neighbourhood, whilst still incorporating green infrastructure and green spaces.

12.295 A community hub will provide a range of facilities to support and complement the residential uses in the neighbourhood. This is expected to include uses such as play areas and formal open space, allotments and small scale convenience retail, and could also include education and medical facilities and some employment space compatible with surrounding residential uses.

12.296 In order to provide a further mix of uses within the master plan, the Local Plan will require the provision of employment land to the west of the A12. New employment opportunities are limited in the north of the District and the creation of new employment land targeted at start up enterprises or to provide grow on space for existing businesses will be encouraged. The design and layout of employment uses will need to be appropriate to their location, particularly when viewed from rural areas to the west.

12.297 Suffolk County Council have provided information relating to library improvements across the District. This site falls within the catchment of Saxmundham library which has been identified as a library where improvements are necessary to enhance provision. A contribution will be requested towards the improvement of library provision as identified in the Infrastructure Delivery Framework.

Integration and connectivity

12.298 An important aspect of any master plan development of this scale is to ensure that the relationship between the existing communities and the new development is seamless and connections between can be easily navigated through a choice of walking, cycling and vehicular routes. Integrating new connections with the existing network of roads and footpaths will provide opportunities to enhance the area and encourage ease of movement for all. The area to be master planned is in close proximity to established areas of residential development, Saxmundham Free School and the town centre. Fundamental to the success of any master plan is to ensure that the local community can access existing services and facilities as well as those which will be created over the plan period. Taking a comprehensive approach to facilities and ensuring that links connecting the new developments are attractive to use, well designed and implemented at the start of the development will be beneficial to creating a successful community.

12.299 Opportunities to encourage and facilitate use of sustainable transport in particular walking and cycling should be maximised. Opportunities to provide walking and cycling links to Benhall utilising existing Public Rights of Way should also be created. Greater Anglia have highlighted the need for development proposals to contribute to the accessibility of rail stations and the quality of its ancillary facilities in order to enhance the visitor experience. In this respect, a contribution relating to Saxmundham rail station may be required.

12.300 Vehicular access is expected to be from the A12. The creation of a new access point onto the existing road network will ensure that the new community is served by appropriate vehicular access. The access point will also serve the employment area to the west of the A12. Alongside this, there is a need to ensure safe pedestrian and cycle access across the A12 between the residential / mixed uses and the employment uses. It is likely that the development will result in localised impacts on the transport network, and any necessary mitigation measures will need to be provided, as informed by Transport Assessments, which would include consideration of the capacity of the B1121 / B1119 signalised crossroads.

12.301 The master plan approach provides the opportunity to create new community spaces and facilities which can serve the new community but also support the existing facilities in nearby settlements, alongside contributions to help improve and enhance existing facilities in Saxmundham. The need for community facilities and spaces such as play areas, meeting places, sports provision, medical facilities or police facilities will be informed by public engagement in the master plan process to ensure that concerns raised in respect of provision through the consultation responses are taken into account.

Comprehensively delivering sustainable development

12.302 To ensure that the Garden Neighbourhood accords with the principles of sustainable development, consultation feedback and evidence has highlighted a variety of site specific issues that need to be considered as the master plan evolves.

12.303 The East of England Clinical Commissioning Group have identified that enhancements to provision of primary care would be needed to support growth in Saxmundham, and it is expected that a contribution will be required towards expansion works at Saxmundham surgery as detailed in the Infrastructure Delivery Framework.

12.304 Suffolk Constabulary have identified the need for funding for new police facilities as detailed in the Infrastructure Delivery Framework, incorporating new floor space at the Saxmundham Safer Neighbourhood Team Police Offices, Police Community Support Officers, equipment and police vehicles.

12.305 Development proposals should have regard to the findings of the Suffolk Coastal & Ipswich Cross Boundary Water Cycle Study which indicates capacity limitations at Benhall Water Recycling Centre. Evidence will be required to demonstrate how capacity will be made available in time to serve the proposed development.

12.306 The Water Cycle Study also identifies this site as being within Flood Zone 1. As the site area is over 1 ha, any proposals for development must be accompanied by a site-specific Flood Risk Assessment.

12.307 The site is located in a Source Protection Zone and treatment of surface water for pollutants prior to disposal is vital. This may require larger areas to be dedicated for SuDS than standard. Given the size of the development, if infiltration is not possible then the cumulative impact on nearby watercourses will need to be considered and modelled.

12.308 UK Power Networks have indicated a need to improve the 11kv network between Benhall primary substation and Saxmundham. A financial contribution may be required for this site. The extent of any improvements will need to be assessed through discussion between the developer and UK Power Networks ahead of any relevant planning application being submitted to the District Council.

12.309 This site has high archaeological potential. It is situated in a favourable location for archaeological activity, overlooking the River Fromus on an area of light soils. To the north, in a similar topographic location, prehistoric and Anglo Saxon settlement has been identified. Within the site, an undated double line cropmark runs the length of the site parallel to the river. Finds of Iron Age, Roman, Anglo Saxon and medieval date have also been recorded from immediately adjacent fields.

12.310 Geophysical survey has identified complex remains in the eastern part of the site in particular. Suffolk County Council have highlighted that archaeological assessment should be required to inform the Masterplan to inform viability of schemes, mitigation requirements and conservation in situ of significant remains. Any mitigation should involve outreach proposals.

12.311 The site is located within a Minerals Consultation Area as defined by Suffolk County Council as the Minerals Planning Authority. Therefore any planning application should be supported by evidence which assesses the quality and quantity of sand and gravel resources on site in order to help judge whether on-site resources should be used on-site during development. This may help reduce the amount of material transported on and off site during development.

12.312 Suffolk County Council have indicated that future improvements are needed at Leiston household waste recycling centre to accept additional waste from housing growth. A contribution will be required through the Community Infrastructure Levy towards the improvement of the centre as identified in the Infrastructure Delivery Framework.

12.313 The illustration below provides an initial indication of how the Garden Neighbourhood could be masterplanned, demonstrating the focus on the creation of neighbourhoods focussed around green infrastructure and the provision of significant areas of open space. The master plan is indicative at this stage and further refinement of the master plan will be informed by responses to the Local Plan and community engagement.

277 South Saxmundham Garden Neighbourhood Indicative draft masterplan

South Saxmundham Garden Neighbourhood – Indicative draft masterplan

Note: indicative draft masterplan assumes new primary school within the residential / mixed use areas.

Policy SCLP12.29: South Saxmundham Garden Neighbourhood

Approximately 66.6ha of land for a garden neighbourhood is identified to the south of Saxmundham, which includes land within the parish of Benhall, for an education led development, comprising primary school provision, community facilities, employment land and open space alongside a variety of residential development. This new development will be delivered through a master plan approach brought forward through landowner collaboration and community engagement.

Critical to the success of this master plan will be the integration of the new garden neighbourhood with the existing community of Benhall and Saxmundham, as well as taking into account the location of the site.

The master plan should be informed by community engagement and include:

a) Provision of a one form of entry primary school on a 2.2ha site to enable further expansion and early years provision;

b) 0.13ha of land for a further early years setting;

c) Community hub* comprising a variety of services and facilities to be located in an accessible location;

d) Project level Habitats Regulations Assessment and a significant area of Suitable Alternative Natural Greenspace which is designed to mitigate impacts on European protected sites;

e) Provision of green infrastructure, including informal and formal open spaces, circular walks, and retention and enhancement of the natural features on the site such as trees, woodland and hedgerows to be incorporated into the layout of the development;

f) Formal recreational opportunities to cater for all ages, including play space;

g) Public rights of way on the site should be preserved and enhanced;

h) Biodiversity networks and habitats to be preserved and enhanced, including measures to enhance biodiversity within housing areas;

i) Design and layout that supports a dementia friendly environment;

j) Design and development of the site which is sympathetic to the south entrance of Saxmundham, the Conservation Area and heritage assets, and views of the sensitive landscape and heritage setting to the east, as informed by a heritage impact assessment;

k) Proportionate archaeological assessment;

l) A site-specific Flood Risk Assessment which considers the cumulative impact on receptors off site;

m) Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS) to reduce the risk of surface water flooding and sewer flooding;

n) Evidence is required to demonstrate there is adequate Water Recycling Centre capacity or that capacity can be made available;

o) Provision of new vehicular access point from the A12 supported by safe access for cyclists and pedestrians;

p) Significant pedestrian and cycle accessibility throughout the site, with connections and improvements to networks beyond the site, including to the station and town centre;

q) Provision of a Transport Assessment, with particular regard to the capacity of the B1121/B1119 signalised crossroads;

r) Employment land to the west of the A12, to be masterplanned and delivered as part of the Garden Neighbourhood;

s) Approximately 800 dwellings of a range of types, sizes and tenures including housing to meet the needs of older people, younger and vulnerable people, and provision of self-build plots, including affordable housing on site;

t) Provision of appropriate police, community safety and cohesion facilities.

The necessary off-site infrastructure requirements, including health provision and police facilities will be required through developer contributions and water recycling upgrades undertaken by Anglian Water through the Asset Management Plan.

Any necessary off-site transport improvements will need to be provided to the satisfaction of Suffolk County Council.

* For the purposes of this policy services and facilities could include convenience store, shops, meeting places, allotments, education facilities, care facilities and medical facilities.

 

Land North-East of Street Farm, Saxmundham

280 Land North-East of Street Farm, Saxmundham

12.314 This allocation is carried forward from the Site Allocations and Area Specific Policies Development Plan Document (January 2017)

12.315 The land north-east of Street Farm comprises an area of approximately 2.18ha of agricultural land, development of which is expected to provide approximately 40 dwellings including affordable housing. The design of the scheme will need to take into account the residential development to the south. At the south western corner, it abuts Street Farm which contains a range of employment uses. The railway line forms the northern boundary of the site. The eastern boundary to the site adjoins the open countryside so provision of a substantial landscape scheme will be required as a buffer between the built area and open countryside beyond.

12.316 Concerns regarding the capacity of the highway network in this part of the town and its ability to accommodate additional provision over that already permitted means that a transport assessment will be required. Suffolk County Council Archaeology have confirmed that the site is in an area of high archaeological potential overlooking the River Fromus. Evaluation to the south identified possible occupation layers of Later Neolithic / Early Bronze Age date. An archaeological assessment will therefore be required to be undertaken at an appropriate stage in the design of new development to allow for in-situ preservation if appropriate.

12.317 Anglian Water have confirmed there will be a need for improvements to the foul sewerage network to enable the development of this site. Development proposals at Saxmundham should have regard to the findings of the Suffolk Coastal & Ipswich Cross Boundary Water Cycle Study which indicates capacity limitations at Benhall Water Recycling Centre. Evidence will be required to demonstrate how capacity will be made available in time to serve the proposed development. The Water Cycle Study also identifies this site as being within Flood Zone 1. As the site area is over 1ha, any proposals for development must be accompanied by a site-specific Flood Risk Assessment.

12.318 The East of England Clinical Commissioning Group have identified that enhancements to provision of primary care would be needed to support growth in Saxmundham, and it is expected that a contribution will be required towards expansion works at Saxmundham surgery as detailed in the Infrastructure Delivery Framework.

12.319 Suffolk County Council have indicated that future improvements are needed at Leiston household waste recycling centre to accept additional waste from housing growth. A contribution will be required through the Community Infrastructure Levy towards the improvement of the centre as identified in the Infrastructure Delivery Framework.

12.320 Suffolk County Council have provided information relating to library improvements across the District. This site falls within the catchment of Saxmundham library which has been identified as a library where improvements are necessary to enhance provision. A contribution through the Community Infrastructure Levy will be requested towards the improvement of library provision as identified in the Infrastructure Delivery Framework.

12.321 Greater Anglia have highlighted the need for development proposals to contribute to the accessibility of rail stations and the quality of its ancillary facilities and to enhance the visitor experience. In this respect, a Community Infrastructure Levy contribution relating to Saxmundham rail station may be required.

 

Policy SCLP12.30: Land North-East of Street Farm, Saxmundham

2.18ha of land north-east of Street Farm, Saxmundham, as shown on the Policies Map, is identified for residential use for approximately 40 units.

Development will be expected to accord with the following criteria:

a) Provision of affordable housing;

b) Main access through existing residential developments off Church Hill;

c) Potential to improve east-west access across the site to provide pedestrian and cycle access to the north end of the High Street;

d) A contribution towards new early years provision is required;

e) Need to provide a strong planted boundary to the east of the site where it abuts the open countryside;

f) Transport assessment required;

g) A site-specific flood risk assessment is required;

h) An archaeological assessment will be required;

i) An ecological survey will be required; and

j) Evidence is required to demonstrate there is adequate Water Recycling Centre capacity or that capacity can be made available.

If opportunities arise, applicants should explore options to link with wider redevelopment options around Street Farm Road (currently a mix of offices, Suffolk County Offices, Library, Vets practice and hand car wash).