The Assistant Director of Development and Planning and the Business Growth Manager presented a review of Bolsover Town Centre Framework, acknowledging the Committee’s original review plan to take each town area in turn.
Officers noted that when completing the recent Levelling Up Bid the Framework could not be relied upon due to the age of the document, and additional work had been commissioned to develop the proposals in the Bid.
As agreed at the previous meeting, officers had produced a scorecard analysing progress against the various elements of the Framework. On reflection the Framework document hadn’t guided development and many elements remained undelivered, as the document had been aspirational in nature requiring additional buy-in from Town and Parish Councils to engage in development plans themselves. Where funding had not been in place, many ideas had been difficult to deliver.
It was noted that the previous Regeneration Frameworks to some extent also sat outside a wider strategy for development and there was not a bank of costed projects ready to put forward to support the area.
Officers confirmed that Consultation had recently taken place prior to the Bids being submitted and this showed that there was lots of interest from residents and business owners in redevelopment of the town centre.
During the Q and A session, Members raised a number of concerns in relation to the strategic housing developments taking place and their impact on the locality.
Q: Are there plans in place to widen the highway near to the new developments commencing off Welbeck Road, as a recent journey taken had shown that the road could not accommodate extra traffic.
A: The Assistant Director of Development & Planning noted that there was lots of detail in the Local Plan in relation to required highways improvements but that this required a lead from DCC Highways. An original plan had been to develop a road through the old Sherwood Lodge site as part of its redevelopment in order to try and improve traffic flow. Members were asked to consider to what extent they wanted to reduce traffic within the centre potentially via a Park & Ride option.
Q: People within the locality are particularly struggling with transport provision which was impacting access to the secondary school for young people and elderly accessing medical appointments. There was a significant lack of taxi companies locally which compounded the issue.
A: While the Local Plan and the Framework talk about active travel options, highways infrastructure has always been outside of the Framework. While the Council is aware of DCC Improvement Plan and officers are working with County particularly on bus service improvements and the concept of direct response travel via a mini-bus service. Officers are also looking at options for active travel services in Bolsover, Shirebrook and Clowne via bikes/scooters etc.
Q: There is currently a real concern that Bolsover is being overdeveloped through the sites for Bolsover North and Keepmoat without sufficient infrastructure being added. There are serious sewage problems where the network clearly cannot cope and raw sewage is coming back up into houses, with both companies serving the area refusing to take responsibility. In addition, on the Keepmoat development where houses have been developed with longer private driveways these are already disintegrating and only the main road through the estate is adopted.
A: The water companies serving the area have a statutory duty to ensure that the sewage network can cope with additional housing as it is approved. Homeowners should ideally be contacting the builders in relation to specific issues, and the water companies directly where there are service issues. The amount of bedrock within this area of the District does cause an issue with surface water drainage which often goes in to the main drainage adding pressure to the local system.
Comment: The housing currently coming forward appears very limited in terms of affordable housing provision. This was a serious concern given rising living costs. Why do the developments coming forward not have more affordable options?
Comment: Bolsover is classed as a market town but people are not shopping in the town. Traffic through the centre of town is too vast especially if there are issues on the motorway. Additional crossing points are needed in the Market Place car park to ensure pedestrian safety. It is starting to feel more like a dormitory town, rather than a main local centre.
Q: Even as a non-local Ward Member, very concerned about the quality of the developments coming forward and the Council needs to intervene where developers are not addressing poor quality construction.
A: The Planning department can only intervene to a certain extent i.e. Building Control should not sign off work that does not meet the required standard, and does not meet the requirements of the planning permission granted. All roads should be completed to a base level to ensure usability before final finish. In some cases there is also a reliance on the homeowners challenging developers as part of their negotiations. They also have the NHBC cover that comes with all new build properties.
Q: There is a big issue with pedestrianised areas throughout the centre. Old Bolsover Town Council (OBTC) had money for specific bollards but DCC Highways wouldn’t let OBTC move forward with installation. The town is supposed to be a conservation area but when works are being completed DCC Highways are allowing basic tarmac to be put down rather than replace the paving/highways design agreed.
A: Yes this is an issue re Highways and they are currently under-resourced. We have similar issues where we are trying to get cycle tracks put in due to the revenue costs to DCC once they are in place. We have the capital available for the tracks but they won’t take on the projects due to the maintenance element.
Q: Could we have a growth statement for each area highlighting opportunities and risks? If this was in table format it would be easier to monitor and amend as required.
Q: As a Ward Member I’m aware that DCC often go against conservation rules for their own work but enforce them when it comes to local businesses completing work. How do we get them to cooperate?
A: The Town Council can still do their work around, access, traffic flow, highways surfaces and toilet provision etc. It just needs to be co-ordinated, OBTC will still be able to progress certain projects if the Levelling Up Fund bid doesn’t move forward. The Tourism Officer is looking at toilet provision needs within the centre so this can be addressed.
Q: What about youth provision?
A: This has been taken in to consideration when producing the Delivery Plan for the Shared Propserity Fund. Once the Plan has been approved then work will be commissioned and this includes youth diversionary activities.
Comment: The Policy Officer noted that in relation to the discussion on public toilet provision, there were situations when the key for facilities in the Contact Centre was not always easily available if there was a queue at reception. This needed to be raised with the Customer Service Manager.
Comment: A Ward Councillor noted how OBTC had been hoping to install automatic bollards to improve safety within certain areas of the centre, but again this required DCC permission. It was noted that access had been safer prior to the area being pedestrianised due to how pavements had been situated.
Comment: A Ward Councillor felt any revised document needed to make reference to current issues including Food Banks, Warm Banks, and accessibility via public transport.
Moved by Councillor David Dixon and seconded by Councillor Janet Tait
RESOLVED that (1) the contents of the report be noted,
(2) The findings of this report be compared with the forthcoming reviews of the remaining Regeneration Frameworks to inform next steps,
(3) An additional meeting be convened once the outcome of the UKSPF and Levelling Up Fund Bids is known as this will determine what a replacement plan for Bolsover should contain.
(Assistant Director of Development & Planning/ Business Growth Manager/ Scrutiny & Elections Officer)