Why is this site being proposed for development now?
This site has long been a priority for Christchurch Borough Council, who first drew up a design brief for it in 2003.
It is a key town centre site and represents an excellent opportunity to make better use of underutilised land. Redevelopment here will also relieve pressure on Christchurch’s greenfield sites.
Following the selection of Aster Group as preferred developer and the exchange of contracts in January 2018, plans have been developed over the course of 2018 with a public exhibition held in May. The proposals have been submitted to Christchurch Borough Council and are currently under consideration.
What land is included in the proposals?
The application site measures just over two hectares (about five acres), with most of this comprising the former Magistrates’ Court and Police Station sites, along with the Bargates Car Park and Pit Site Car Park.
In addition, the plans include the former Goose and Timber pub site, plus a small area of land owned by the Magdalen Trust.
Bringing the whole site forward for redevelopment will allow us to make the most efficient use of the land rather than having lots of smaller developments for each area.
What traffic and transport measures are proposed in the development?
It is proposed that the development will include a new road between Bargates and Barrack Road, as well as new vehicular access from Barrack Road to serve the retirement living accommodation.
Our proposals take into account guidance issued by Christchurch Borough Council and Dorset County Council.
What impact will the new homes have on the road network?
A transport study has been carried out to inform the plans and has shown that the new homes are expected to generate an additional 30 – 40 vehicle trips during morning and evening peak hours.
What parking will be provided on-site?
When preparing the proposals Aster has taken into consideration Dorset County Council’s parking standards and the site’s sustainable location. The final plans propose the retention of 15 public pay and display car parking spaces. The Council is considering plans to provide more spaces by expanding and reconfiguring a number of other existing town centre car parks.
What opportunities are there to buy or rent a home?
We are proposing a mix of 131 homes and 39 retirement flats which be a mix of seizes and tenures, including affordable housing. To help as many local people secure a home within the development we will market to local people first.
Will there be a route through the site connecting Barrack Road and Bargates?
Yes, it is proposed that the development will include a road through the site, connecting Bargates and Barrack Road.
This will allow vehicles to move through, although its main purpose will be to provide access to the site itself. The road will be designed as a town centre street as opposed to a major highway.
What sort of shops/businesses will be provided within the retail section of the development?
As we‘re still at an early stage it is not possible to specify exactly what these retail units will be.
However, we believe that the new shops and businesses will complement Christchurch’s existing offer.
What are the landscaping plans for the proposed development and will the current trees be protected?
The landscaping plans are designed alongside the architecture of the site, so both the landscaping and new homes are in keeping with the surrounding area.
Landscaping will include the planting of more trees and plants than are in place across the site currently.
Trees will be protected in line with the protection order agreed with Christchurch Borough Council. The most valuable trees currently present on the site will be retained. We will replace any trees that are lost.
What provision will be made to expand/improve local services?
As part of the planning process Christchurch Borough Council, Dorset County Council and other statutory consultees will assess what provision the proposed development needs to make for local services and infrastructure. A Section 106 agreement will then be negotiated with the councils to secure these contributions.
Is consideration being given to the nearby buildings which are of historic interest?
There are a number of buildings close to the site which are considered to be of historical interest.
Following studies of the history of the local area and adjacent buildings by our conservation and heritage consultant, our building designs have incorporated features that are in keeping with surrounding areas.
Why does Christchurch need more specialist retirement accommodation?
From liaison with Christchurch Borough Council’s Planning Department, it is clear that a mix of housing is desired on this site in order to help meet existing local housing needs. The Council’s most recent Strategic Housing Market Assessment, which identifies the area’s various housing requirements, outlined that the number of people aged over 55 will increase by over 30% between the years of 2013 and 2033. As a result, the Council has identified that there is an expected need for around a further 634 specialist retirement units to be delivered over this period.
Providing sufficient specialist housing will also benefit the local housing market as existing family homes become available as occupiers downsize accordingly.
Will the design of the new homes be in keeping with the current Christchurch architecture?
The new homes have been designed to be consistent with Christchurch’s existing properties. We wanted to avoid a uniform approach, so our plans propose a mix of town houses and cottage-like houses across the development.
Our aim was to design the development so that it appears to have evolved over time like the rest of the town centre.
What will happen next?
The plans have now been submitted to Christchurch Borough Council for determination. The Council has started their formal consultation process and a decision on the plans will be made in due course.