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Agenda Item No

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Cabinet Meeting: 28th March, 2012

 

Report of the Cabinet Member for Economic Development and Regeneration

 

Barry Town Centre - Framework for Future Public Realm Improvements

 

Purpose of the Report

1.             To provide Cabinet with a status report on the study undertaken by the consultants Powell Dobson Urbanists. 

Recommendations

1.             That the report produced by Powell Dobson Urbanists continues to be used to inform future consultation and project implementation as resources become available.

2.             That a copy of this report is referred to Scrutiny Committee (Economy and Environment).

Reasons for the Recommendations

1.             To have regard to the broad consensus for change and investment in and around Barry Town Centre.

2.             To ensure that members of Scrutiny Committee (Economy and Environment) are kept informed of progress on this matter.

Background

2.             Cabinet will be aware (9th July 2008 C73 refers) that it resolved to commit £70,000 of the Council's annual capital allocation known as the Barry Regeneration Partnership Project Development Fund for this study.  The project was procured via tender bids and Powell Dobson Urbanists were duly appointed in March 2009.  

3.             Building on the public realm works already undertaken at King Square and Holton Road (western end) the consultants were asked to prepare a context document which focused on developing proposals for three other areas in the town centre, namely Holton Road (central), Thompson Street and Gladstone Road.  They were asked to report sketch scheme proposals and estimated costs corresponding with the Landscape Institute’s Landscape Consultant work stages A – D, which aim to improve the public realm, the commercial environment and pedestrian safety by:

·               Reinforcing the sense of arrival for visitors and upgrading the prime shopping area;

·               Creating a pedestrian focused shopping environment and opportunities for social events, meeting the accessibility needs of the whole community; and,

·               Reflecting the traditional importance of Thompson Street and taking advantage of the new footbridge link between the town centre and the waterfront.

4.             During the course of the study the brief was extended to take into account a number of key issues.  Firstly, to consider the work of the Renewal Area team in the run up to the declaration of Castleland Renewal Area in April 2010.  Secondly, to consider the wider regeneration benefits for the town centre which could accrue from the defence training proposals at St Athan and the Barry waterfront regeneration development, and thirdly to have regard to the review of regeneration policy in Wales and the resultant concentration of Welsh Government investment in Regeneration Areas.  Barry was declared a Regeneration Area in March 2010.  

Relevant Issues and Options

5.             The structure of the final report (completed in May 2010) is summarised as follows:

·               Introduction and Brief - outlines the initial focus of the study and the rationale for extending the brief to take into account a number of key issues (paragraphs 3 and 4 of this report refer).

·               Baseline Review - this chapter outlines the key factors affecting the future regeneration of Barry and sets the context for public realm improvements in the town centre.

·               Strategic Regeneration Proposals - this chapter outlines the case for an overall physical regeneration framework to maximise the regeneration benefits which could accrue from the defence training proposals at St Athan and the Barry waterfront regeneration development.

·               Regeneration Vision and Objectives - this chapter identifies the possible regeneration objectives for a wider package of measures within which the public realm schemes should fit.

·               Public Realm Sketch Proposals - this chapter outlines street design principles which are vital to ensure the success of public realm intervention, which is a fundamental component of a successful town centre.  In broad terms these are paving materials, street furniture, lighting, tree planting, public art, pedestrian crossing points, pavement and carriageway widths, kerbs and shared space, on-street parking and traffic speeds.

·               Best Practice Case Studies - this outlines useful examples, which have influenced the conclusions and recommendations of the study.

·               Public Realm Sketch Proposals (Holton Road (central)) - this chapter demonstrates how the design principles discussed earlier in the report can be applied to this key area in the town centre.  The suggested approach in this area indicates how traffic can be incorporated into the pedestrianised section while maintaining high pedestrian priority and convenient on street parking; how the needs of the outdoor market can be accommodated; how the cross falls on the road can be improved; how the rest of the highway can be improved to help create a slower speed environment; and, how the roads around the school and the multi-storey car park can be improved.

·               Public Realm Sketch Proposals (Thompson Street) - this chapter demonstrates how the design principles discussed earlier in the report can be applied to this key area in the town centre. The suggested approach in this area aims to maintain the historic linear nature of the street; rationalise the amount of space that is occupied by the road; introduce strong structuring elements to emphasise the east side and screen the west side; celebrate the bridge; and, maintain on-street parking.

·               Public Realm Sketch Proposals (Gladstone Road) - this chapter demonstrates how the design principles discussed earlier in the report can be applied to this key area in the town centre. The suggested approach in this area aims to retain the vital movement function of the highway junction; create a safer and more attractive pedestrian environment; create a gateway to the town centre; develop it as a 'place' rather than an area of highway infrastructure; rationalise the amount of highway area; improve the quality of the parks and open spaces; and, accommodate the requirement for bus movements.

·               Dock View Road - the suggested approach in this key part of the Renewal Area aims to improve the link between the town centre and the docks station by upgrading the pedestrian environment; reducing vehicle speeds; the integration of parking into the street scene; and, introducing street trees and landscaping to soften the environment.

·               Consultation and Engagement - the consultants engagement programme comprised a number of different and complementary approaches including stakeholder 'surgeries', direct involvement of the Cardiff and Vale Coalition of Disabled People, plus public consultation.  A detailed analysis of the feedback is provided in the final report which also demonstrates how comments and opinions have influenced the proposals.

·               Implementation and Delivery - this chapter outlines that a significant amount of further feasibility work is required to progress these design concepts to implementation, and additional public sector support is essential for these public realm projects to be implemented to the recommended standard.  The cost report highlights that the total package of works is in the order of 7.7 million pounds (including an allowance of 1.5 million pounds for preliminaries and construction costs) for the three schemes.  This amounts to indicative construction costs of 1.3 million pounds for Thompson Street; 2.7 million pounds for Gladstone Road; and, 2.2 million pounds for Holton Road (central).

·               Conclusion - the main conclusions are that there is significant support for works to improve the appearance of the three key areas but that an ongoing programme of consultation should be established once funding has been secured.  The enhancements proposed in the final report apply the latest theories of civilised street design and build on the experience of other successful schemes elsewhere in the UK.  The comments and discussions regarding the suggested approach for Holton Road (central) indicated that there is support for the idea in principle but there is also concern that in practice the incorporation of traffic could be abused by motorists driving too fast, undesirable parking and lack of respect for pedestrians.  The divide in opinion for this proposal will need to be carefully managed in the implementation of the scheme once funding has been secured.

6.             A copy of the final report has been placed in the Members Room and is also available for members of the public to inspect at the Dock Office, Subway Road and the Renewal Area Office, 198 Holton Road.

7.             Cabinet will also be aware that following the completion of the study in May 2010, the design principles and suggested approach in the final report have been used as the basis for the implementation of the Thompson Street Public Realm Improvement project and associated investment in the Castleland Renewal Area Housing Facelift Programme (7th July 2010 C976 refers and 3rd November 2010 C1113 refers)

8.             The long term approach advocated in the final report is to improve the image and perception of the area as a place to live and invest, through co-ordinated investment.  To date the final report has unlocked 1.1million pounds (Welsh Government Barry Regeneration Area Programme) for the Thompson Street Public Realm Improvement project and 1.2 million pounds (Welsh Government Private Sector Housing Renewal Programme) for the Castleland Renewal Area Housing Facelift Programme in the streets adjacent to Thompson Street.  The benefits accrued from the study are therefore clear.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment and Climate Change, if appropriate)

9.             The final cost of the report produced by Powell Dobson Urbanists was £68,218 and therefore under budget.  The cost of this external assistance was met out the Council's Barry Regeneration Partnership Project Development Fund capital budget. 

10.        Consideration to date of the final report has been undertaken by officers within the Planning and Transportation Service Area within existing budgets.

11.        As was the case with Thompson Street, implementation of the remaining proposals in the final report will require capital investment and funds will be sought via grant as available and reported to Cabinet on a project basis.

12.        There are no Climate Change Implications arising directly from this report.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

13.        None arising directly from this report.

Crime and Disorder Implications

14.        None arising directly from this report.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

15.        The consultant's final report contains information which uses technical language not in use by the general public and is therefore only published in English.

Corporate/Service Objectives

16.        The consultant's final report is an important consideration in the delivery of Corporate Improvement Object 28 "To encourage economic growth in partnership with others in order to widen employment opportunities in the Vale" and Corporate Improvement Object 30 "To encourage the development of a diversified and sustainable community by working in partnership to improve the quality of life of the Vale’s residents" in the Planning and Transportation Service Plan 2011/12. 

Policy Framework and Budget

17.        This report is a matter for Executive decision by the Cabinet.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

18.        Local ward members from Castleland and Buttrills were invited, at a very early stage in the study process, to attend a series of stakeholder 'surgeries' organised by the consultants.  Consultation with key stakeholders and the general public formed an important information source during the course of the study and the preparation of the final report.     

19.        Local ward members from Castleland have been briefed on a regular basis during the implementation of the Thompson Street Public Realm Improvement project.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

20.        Economy and Environment

Background Papers

None.

 

Contact Officer

Dave Williams, Principal Regeneration Officer, 01446 704753

 

Officers Consulted

Head of Planning and Transportation

Operational Manager Countryside and Economic Projects

Senior Accountant, Resource Management

 

Responsible Officer:

Rob Quick, Director of Environmental and Economic Regeneration

 

 

 

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