Barton Willmore ran a public consultation on behalf of Kirklees Council’s Housing Growth Team, in relation to the emerging proposals for the first phase of development at Dewsbury Riverside, which took place between 21st June and 1st August 2021.
Due to restrictions associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, the consultation was held virtually, via a dedicated consultation webpage (www.riversidedewsbury.co.uk), online questionnaire form and through a live online workshop (6th June between 11am and 7pm) using an online chat function.
The public consultation is specific to this development but has been run alongside the Council’s Place Standard Consultation (https://howgoodisourplace.org.uk/2018/07/10/what-were-doing/). Place Standard is a tool that supports ongoing consultation with local communities regarding their street, neighbourhood or town. Between 25th June and 1st August, the Council launched the ‘Listening to Thornhill Lees’ and ‘Listening to Ravensthorpe’ Place Standard Consultation.
The Place Standard Consultation covered a wide range of topics, including the development proposals, and was subject to extensive advertisement by the Council. Advertising methods included online promotion, banners and posters in key locations across the community and the distribution of letters and questionnaires to local households. Place Standard Consultation material was available in a range of languages, including English, Urdu, Romanian, Hungarian and Polish.
Responses to both processes will be factored into the design evolution of the proposed development. It should be noted, however, that each consultation will produce its own Consultation Report which responds to specific issues raised by the community.
The public consultation specific to the proposed development was advertised on the Council’s portal and via the Place Standard’s Consultation, as well as on social media. Between 28th June and 1st August 2021 the Council advertised the consultation 8 times on social media. These social media posts generated the following activity:
- 858 total clicks
- 210.8k reach
- 43.8k impressions
- 2.69% engagement rate
During the period of consultation, a total of 151 questionnaire responses were received, alongside 36 online questions and 9 email responses. No responses were received via telephone or post.
The public consultation uncovered a number of key issues, that were raised by the local community and interested parties, including:
- The relocation of the Masjid/playgroup
- Increased pressure on highways infrastructure and traffic
- Loss over greenfield / Green Belt land
- Increased pressure on local facilities (schools, doctors etc.)
- Flood Risk
Whilst our development proposals continue to emerge at the Site and will take into consideration the comments raised during the consultation, we provide the following interim feedback to the comments raised.
The relocation of the Masjid and playgroup
The relocation of the Mosque and playgroup was highlighted a key issue, with 60.26% of responses addressing this issue.
The relocation of the Masjid and playgroup is required to facilitate the delivery of the whole allocation at Dewsbury Riverside. The Council’s planning application will be a hybrid planning application which provides detailed information on road design and access but does not, at this stage, propose any detailed buildings. Accordingly, the emerging proposals will provide sufficient room for community facilities at the Site which would be capable of accommodating a replacement Mosque and playgroup; any detailed proposals would form part of a subsequent detailed application.
We noted the community’s concerns in relation to the phasing of development and the continued availability of the Mosque and playgroup. It is expected that to aid delivery of Phase 1 of the Dewsbury Riverside development that the first phase will be accessed via an access onto Ravensthorpe Road (in advance of the main site access onto Forge Lane being delivered or the removal of the Mosque). This will enable further time for the details of the Mosque’s relocation to be agreed with the trustees of the Mosque.
There were some questions relating to how the agreement of the Mosque (and its trustees and local community) would impact the planning process and vice versa. The planning process concerns itself with matters of land use planning and does not seek to mediate on land ownership issues. The purchase of the Mosque and playgroup and any financial arrangements for doing so are a matter for agreement between the Council and the Mosque’s trustees; separate from the planning process. The Council will continue to engage with the Mosque’s trustees on this matter.
Increased pressure on highways infrastructure and traffic
A number of responses also raised concern in regards to increased traffic from the development and increased pressure on highways infrastructure.
The planning application seeks permission for the first phase of the wider Dewsbury Riverside Local Plan allocation (HS61). The Local Plan has been examined by the Planning Inspectorate and has been adopted by the Council as part of its development plan. In assessing the Local Plan, the Council and the Inspector considered wider highway issues relating to developing the wider site for circa 4,000 residential units (and associated community uses). The Local Plan considered that development with all other development proposed within the Local Plan.
The council have prepared a scheme of wide-area and detailed traffic models of all of the key junctions across Dewsbury to consider the highway interventions which are required to mitigate for the full development scheme.
A scheme of significant highway works is being prepared by the council to mitigate impacts relating to the full Local Plan allocation, for which this will be the first phase. The first phase of development must establish how it will need to contribute to the overall scheme of highways works and when.
In delivering the first phase, the first two highway access points will be delivered, which include a new roundabout site access at the junction with Forge Lane and, also, a new access point on to Ravensthorpe Road. These two access points will serve Phase One but, with regards to the Forge Lane Access in particular, will also provide crucial infrastructure to facilitate the onward delivery of Dewsbury Riverside and contribute towards the comprehensive scheme of infrastructure works required to facilitate Dewsbury Riverside. Where necessary, the planning submission will incorporate off-site highway intervention measures to mitigate the impacts of this phase and, also, contribute towards the wider strategic highway interventions required to deliver the wider Local Plan allocation.
The extent of those measures are still being agreed with the Council’s highways team.
With regard to public transport, a scheme of this size would attract new bus services in the future, with the future link road (connecting Calder Road to the west and Lees Hall Road to the east) providing opportunity for buses to enter the site in the future, helping to reduce the number of car-borne trips to and from the site.
Loss over greenfield / Green Belt land
The Kirklees Local Plan was adopted in February 2019. The purpose of the document is to set out the policies necessary to achieve the spatial strategy, and how much new development there should be in the district and where it will go. The Local Plan is underpinned by evidence, such as the Strategic Housing Market Assessment (2016) and the extent of land required to meet the needs of the borough as a whole; including any review of the Green Belt that is necessary.
Accordingly, the Local Plan process is one which allocates land for development and included Dewsbury Riverside for housing development, comprising 4,000 dwellings alongside education and community facilities. The site does not fall within the Green Belt and is allocated for development. The principle of development of the Site is established by the Local Plan and not something which our emerging planning application seeks to establish.
Notwithstanding that the Site is designated for development, the planning application will be accompanied by a comprehensive suite of technical assessments which will demonstrate how the development has taken account of landscape and biodiversity and will ensure negative impacts are minimised and mitigated against, in line with local and national planning policy and guidance. The proposed development is being designed with the aim of achieving a Biodiversity Net Gain. These technical assessments will be available for public view on the Council’s website, following the submission of the planning application.
Increased pressure on local facilities
Concern was also raised over the increased pressure on local facilities. As with transport and highways matters, the provision of community infrastructure and facilities has been considered on a whole plan basis.
The wider allocation for Dewsbury Riverside seeks to provide, alongside circa 4,000 homes, Early Years and Childcare provision, provision of one new 2 form entry primary school (with further 2 form entry capacity required beyond the plan period) with the provision of secondary school places to be monitored and delivered to meet demand as new housing is delivered; the wider masterplan is required to safeguard land for future secondary school provision beyond the plan period should the need arise. The allocation also requires areas of public open space, green infrastructure and habitats required.
As above, the emerging planning application comprises only the first phase of the wider Dewsbury Riverside allocation (circa 9% of the overall planned development) and will not include provision of all of the above facilities; which will come at future phases of the development and when sufficient development is proposed to support those facilities. It is not, therefore, considered that the development of the Site will have a material negative impact on the existing local facilities.
The emerging proposals provide for the provision of the re-located allotments and allocate land for new or relocated community facilities on the Site. The requirement for additional education facilities is not expected to be triggered as part of the first phases of development.
Some feedback responses also raised concern over the potential for flooding associated with the proposed development. The Environment Agency’s Flood Risk Mapping tool confirms that the Site is located within Flood Zone 1, and therefore at the lowest risk (1 in 1,000 year annual probability) of fluvial flooding. With regards to surface water flooding, the majority of the Site is at very low risk of flooding, with the exception of some areas along the northern and eastern boundaries, which are at medium – low risk of flooding.
As part of the planning application, a Flood Risk Assessment (FRA) will be prepared to assess the impact of the proposal on flood risk as well as a Drainage Strategy for the Site. The surface water drainage design will seek to restrict flows to greenfield (pre-developed) rates of runoff to avoid any increase in flood risk off site. The drainage system will use Sustainable Urban Drainage (SUDs) in the form of swales and detention basins to convey and store water. The new drainage system will discharge to the Yorkshire Water network located in Raventhorpe Road.
The foul water drainage will be a conventional piped system and will collect and convey flows to the Yorkshire Water sewer located in Raventhorpe Road.
The road network has been designed to allow roads to follow the contours and slackest gradients within the site. This ensure roads do not have significant cut and fill requirements and that standard road gradients can be achieved. The road network has also been coordinated with key constraints such as existing gas and power utilities.
During June – August 2021, Kirklees Council’s Housing Growth Team opened a public consultation on the emerging plans for the Site at Dewsbury Riverside. The consultation invited local residents, stakeholders and interested parties to make comments and ask questions on the proposals.
Responses received from the engagement activity was varied. Some support was demonstrated for the proposals, however there were several areas, as above where the community identified areas of concern. The Consultation process has been valuable in identifying those key areas of concern. Moving forward, the Housing Growth Team are committed to testing and refining the emerging draft masterplan in light of the key issues raised.
In terms of next steps, all information received from the public consultation, as well as relevant information from the Place Standard Consultation, will be reviewed and taken into account as the proposals for the Site develop. A Statement of Community Involvement and Design and Access Statement will be prepared for the planning application and will demonstrate how feedback has influenced the evolution of the design proposals.
We envisage that a planning application will be submitted on 16th September 2021. A formal consultation period will follow as part of the planning application process, which will enable residents and interested parties to submit further comments on the proposals and supporting technical assessments.