Frequently Asked Questions about the NRR/Bellway plans
1. What effect will these plans have on the streetscape of the town centre?
- A depressing effect
- The beauty and consistency of design in the town centre conservation area will be destroyed by the introduction of a development on the new road which will lead into the centre and bring through traffic
- The design code for the buildings doesn’t match, complement or enhance the present buildings, including Victoria Hall, the civic building which stands alongside The Street and Fortescue Road – this is contrary to the stated BANES policy in the Local Plan
- There is a disproportionate amount of render and wood cladding in the new designs, at the expense of the varied styles and materials in evidence in the centre. Wood cladding doesn’t feature at all in the conservation area and the only examples of render are on a couple of buildings which were marred by this treatment, probably the sixties – such modifications would not be acceptable now in a conservation area.
2. Where will I park my car?
- There is very limited parking available within the new development
- The Victoria Hall car park which provides a considerable amount of free parking will be closed
- There are no plans to provide equivalent replacement parking, even though this is a requirement of the 106
- The only alternative will be to go to RADCO which has now introduced charges: this obligates users to shop in the store if they want their parking fee refunded.
3. How do you expect the rare lizards to live in sedum roofs? Has anyone checked how the activities on the site have affected the bats?
- The lizards can't live on the sedum roofs. Requests to see the results of the required follow-up survey have been ignored
- The most recent bat survey dates from 2006. It is now technically out-of-date as it deals with a protected species and should, therefore, have been updated
- The survey was not conducted in line with the Bat Mitigation guidelines. Significant bat populations commute along the lines of trees and into the Victoria Hall; bats need dark sites for commuting; high light levels will prevent light sensitive bats from using the railway land for commuting and could lead to the demise of the brown long-eared bat maternity roost in the Victoria Hall.
4. Will this project generate any jobs for local people?
- Possibly a few low paid ones in new shops, should they ever materialise – but this will be countered by the inevitable closure of shops in the conservation area as a result of the new road system.
5. Isn't this going to be just another housing estate?
- Yes – the current application is for 83 units, of which the developer intends to build 50, mainly as small flat units
- MEP Glyn Ford has visited Radstock and looked at the plans and agrees that this is not a regeneration project but a housing estate
- Government policy requires that social/affordable housing is 'pepperpotted' across all new developments –the current proposals will result in over 40 units of affordable housing all being concentrated together in one area.
6. What's this going to do to the Victoria Hall?
- The Victoria Hall will be overshadowed by buildings which will be far too close. They will detract from its architectural merits by being disproportionately tall and of poor design which fails to reflect the gracious building style of the Hall
- The volume of traffic will further compromise the structure itself which requires immediate remedial work rather than massive increases in passing traffic flow.
7. Why can't they redevelop the 1960s Fortescue Road buildings instead?
- Radstock traders and residents value the services offered by the shops in this set of buildings but everyone agrees that their design should be in keeping with the design of the town centre conservation area
- Imaginative redevelopment of this part of Fortescue Road, to include shops and housing would be a far better way to approach the regeneration of the town.
8. Why can't we have a railway as well?
- Radstock needs a railway link to Frome
- Commuter carbon footprints would be reduced
- It would contribute to the regeneration of the town by encouraging more visitors.
9. How are they going to make contaminated land safe?
- Arsenic, cadmium and asbestos are known to be among the very toxic substances present in considerable amounts on the site
- There is some suggestion that some of the contaminated soil may already have been moved further down the site, thus spreading the contamination; even if this is not the case, either of the two possible options for decontamination carry very heavy risks
- The developer's original report admitted that the decontamination methods to be used had not been tested. There is no evidence that there has been any testing of methods since the writing of this same report
- Decontamination is normally done by one of two methods – either by removing all contaminated soil from the site or by the construction of a concrete raft over the contamination – the question which remains unanswered is what might happen when footings are dug or when pipework for sewage and other domestic purposes is built
- Even more serious, what will happen when water running off the hillside runs under the raft and into the streams, carrying with it the contaminants
- We remain very worried about the health of people living over and in the vicinity of such a such a contaminated site.
10. How will people survive the noise and air pollution from the new road?
- The proposed new road will, in contravention of all good planning practice, bring all through traffic through the new development and into the town centre. This will include huge articulated trucks and other heavy vehicles, as well as a constant heavy flow of cars
- Housing units will be built along the sides of this new 'white elephant' and will experience high levels of noise and air pollution; the health of residents will suffer
- Structural surveys have shown that the old buildings in the centre will be unable to withstand the weight and vibration of the through traffic; a two way traffic system will lead to additional pollution and deter shopper from using the shops in the centre, thus further jeopardising the regeneration of the business heart of Radstock
11. How are they getting away with this in a conservation area?
- The original planning application argued that the economic benefits to the community outweighed the ecological/environmental damage. However, it is still to be demonstrated satisfactorily that there will be any economic advantage. The much vaunted business case has never been made
- NRR has argued that there has been widespread effective consultation and has sought to give validity to the project through this – the truth is that there has been very little consultation; any consultation has shown those asked to have been clearly against the current proposals but, on these occasions, the developers have heard the views of local people and ignored them
- The regeneration of Radstock should embrace the conservation area and make it a focal point of increased tourist and visitor potential; it should equally be using the conservation area and the present facilities to enhance the lives of those who live and work in the town.