«E RESPE UTUR CT eF th r fo ST - PLANNING Revised Battle Hospital A eP th Planning Brief G IN eF ECT UTUR E RESP Supplementary Planning Document July ...»
3.1 The site is located between Oxford Road (A329) and Portman Road, approximately 0.7 km west of Reading City Centre. The location is indicated on the Site Location Plan at the end of this brief. This part of Oxford Road is characterised by a mix of retail, commercial, community facilities and residential uses, which form part of the Oxford Road West District Centre.
3.2 To the east and west of the site and to the south of Oxford Road are predominantly Victorian/Edwardian residential areas of quite dense terraced housing. To the north of Portman Road is a large industrial estate.
The hospital site dates from the 19th. Century and was developed northwards 3.3 from Oxford Road across the Battle Farm lands toward what is now Portman Road. The clinical facilities have occupied the older multi-storey buildings in the south and east part of the site and more recent single storey buildings in the central and west part of the site. Industrial-type support uses including a laundry, incinerator (disused), pharmaceutical preparation, sterilisation, ambulance depot, food preparation, storage and offices, are situated in an area of some 2.02 ha. fronting Portman Road. There is also some staff accommodation in the Eastern part of the site. The west part of the site includes open space at the rear of the Oxford Road/Chester Street properties and along Portman Road.
3.4 There are some attractive Victorian/Edwardian buildings within the complex, which are characteristic of Reading. None of the NHS Trust’s buildings are currently listed as being of architectural or historic importance; however, the gatehouse and adjacent buildings including the adjoining terrace fronting Oxford Road are landmark Victorian buildings in the Oxford Road street scene and should therefore be retained. Several buildings adjoining the Oxford Road frontage are listed (see the Development Principles Plan). There is some well-established planting including mature trees within the older part of the hospital site. There are also prominent trees along the western boundary and along the frontage to Portman Road.
3.5 Currently, there is a pedestrian access to the hospital from Oxford Road via the Gatehouse, however vehicular access is taken from Portman Road and Valentia Road/Audley Street (restricted).
3.6 The frontage to Oxford Road and the eastern half of the site is several metres higher than the land along Portman Road, part of which falls within the floodplain of the River Thames. There is an appreciable slope towards Portman Road in the northeast part of the site.
4 SITE CONSTRAINTS 4.1 The site is relatively unconstrained for future redevelopment. There is understood to be no requirement for re-use of the hospital buildings in an institutional form, therefore redevelopment is likely to include extensive demolition work.
4.2 However, the preceding appraisal of the site context, with Character Areas explored in further detail in Chapter 6, suggests that there are a number of key features considered worthy of retention on the site.
4.3 It is considered that the gatehouse, the attached terrace of houses and the building at the rear of the gatehouses should be retained for their historical importance as being good examples of the local vernacular building style and other buildings (or parts thereof) should be considered for re-use, where they are of notable quality. The settings of the library and No. 450 Oxford Road (both Listed Grade II) should be preserved or enhanced via the development (in accordance with Policy CUD4 of the Local Plan).
4.4 There are industrial-type uses associated with ambulance servicing and hospital facilities facing onto Portman Road. In the shorter tem, these are expected to remain, constraining the area available for redevelopment. This constraint represents a necessity for development to back onto this area, which will have an influence on layout and the type of uses for issues of environmental sensitivity. Until such time as this land becomes available, there should also be a buffer of landscaping towards these uses.
4.5 A detailed site investigation will be required as part of a broader environmental assessment of the site before development is commenced.
The west part of the site includes filled ground, and an initial desk study and reference to old maps indicate the possible presence of contamination from various sources. If there is any contaminated land, mitigating measures will be required (see PPG23: Planning and Pollution Control) and this will be the responsibility of the developers. The developers should also refer to the recent Guide to Developing Contaminated Land as prepared by the six Berkshire Unitary Authorities.
4.6 This site is partially located in Flood Zone 3, identified by the Environment Agency as a High Risk Zone. This refers to the fact that the probability of flooding is 1 in 100 years or less from river sources. Therefore depending on the type of development proposed, flood mitigation measures may be required and applications will be required to be accompanied by a Flood Risk Assessment (FRA) in accordance with PPG25: Development and Flood Risk.
4.7 Preliminary archaeological evaluation was undertaken in accordance with PPG 16: Archaeology and Planning and Policy CUD12 of the Local Plan, in relation to the previous outline planning application. The result of that evaluation was that it was unlikely that there were any archaeological
remains at the site and that there should be no further archaeological constraint on development.
4.8 Access to the site will be constrained by the need to severely limit the amount of additional traffic using Oxford Road. Priority should be given to buses along Oxford Road and the development should assist in reducing the need to travel generally, and to encourage use of public transport, walking and cycling. Portman Road will be the major vehicular access to the development, although the Council may also consider a small pocket of residential development accessed from Valentia Road or Audley Street, in order to link part of the development directly with the existing streets. This would have no vehicular connection through to the remainder of the site.
4.9 There should be at least one through pedestrian/cycle access from Portman Road to Oxford Road and an east-west link through the site. The site is currently constrained by poor east-west links and indirect north-south pedestrian and cycle access. This issue will need to be addressed by development proposals and opportunities for links between Sherwood Street and Curzon Street will be investigated for potential as cycle and pedestrian entrances.
4.10 There is a main combined sewer running across the northern part of the site from east to west. This may constrain the location of buildings and roads in its vicinity and the developers should ascertain this themselves.
4.11 There are two areas of the site where there are notable changes in levels:
towards the north/north-east and to the west of the community buildings near Oxford Road, although there are a number of smaller changes and escarpments. Development should respond sensitively to these level changes, using them to minimise the visual impact of development, where appropriate and the developers’ masterplan should demonstrate this. The area proposed for the Civic Space is set at a lower level and material from demolished buildings from the site should be used to raise the ground level in this area to the level of Oxford Road.
4.12 Changes in level also afford limited views of features on the site. The library bell tower is clearly visible from Portman Road and acts as a useful marker to the location of Oxford Road. In a landscape which has few historic or landmark features, the library, along with its bell tower and at a lower level, the gatehouse assume an important role in distinguishing areas of the site and broader geographic location. As such their visibility should be maintained from further afield and from the Character Areas from which views are already available.
4.13 Residential development to the east and west of the site is a notable refuge from the noise and activity on Oxford and Portman Roads. Development will need to recognise and support this tranquillity, in particular through the
careful placement of movement routes on the site, including lorry routes and with regard to new access points to the site from these areas.
4.14 The rear elevations and gardens of properties of immediately adjacent properties are also important private spaces, the overlooking of which or intrusion through the removal of long range views is to be avoided.
4.15 Vegetation on the site is of varying quality however there are keys areas that will positively contribute to an enhanced landscaped setting for the site.
• Avenue of Lime Trees along the western boundary;
4.16 Other trees are mainly ornamental species and only semi-mature. More mature Lime trees exist at the eastern boundary of the site close to Audley Street. All trees should be considered as constraints to development, until such time as the developers’ masterplan/landscaping masterplan shows which trees would remain or be lost.
4.17 The Willow trees on Portman Road also form part of a wider green corridor along this major route. The role that trees have in this location will need to be viewed strategically as part of proposals.
4.18 A site survey prior to approval of any planning permission would indicate whether the site contains species, which are in the Biodiversity Action Plan, whose habitat it would be necessary to re-provide within the development.
5 DEVELOPMENT PRINCIPLES5.1 A strong and clearly defined urban design structure is required which responds to the site’s urban location and the predominantly Victorian/Edwardian character of the area. This is in line with the Council’s planning policy for the standards of design in development as set out in Policies HSG5 and CUD14 of the Local Plan1. The main design principles for the site are shown on the Development Principles Plan. The purpose of these Development Principles is to provide an indicative, but flexible vision of future development form for the Battle site.
5.2 Government guidance in PPG3 is clear that in designing new developments, strong links to local distinctiveness are required. But in larger schemes such as this, it is also necessary to provide changes in design within the development to aid orientation, emphasise a “sense of place” and successfully integrate the development into the local area. The outcome should be to create a group of distinctive neighbourhoods, which relate to each other, but also, to a certain extent, reflect and respect the area immediately adjacent.
5.3 In seeking to aid the delivery of well designed, harmonious development on the Battle site, the Borough Council is encouraging the use of English Partnerships’ Design Codes as part of the developers’ masterplanning process. These Codes are a recent concept, which set out a detailed framework for building design within each character-area and provide a greater degree of certainty for developers in the type of designs, which will be acceptable. The Codes would specify for instance, road hierarchies, urban block types, materials and other more detailed design features.
5.4 Several pilot projects are underway, the most advanced being Upton, a sustainable urban extension to Northampton, with another good example being Derwenthorpe, a new community headed by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation on the edge of York. More locally, Codes are also being used in the Masterplan for the Manor Farm site in South Reading.
5.5 The Council believes that Codes have a role to play in enabling the masterplanning process of the Battle site, where there is a need for sympathetic integration of design with the existing urban fabric, for this large redevelopment site within a Victorian area. Indeed, it is likely that the present Victorian area was built to a set of design codes of its time.
Providing greater certainty in this way should guide the developer in providing sensitive design solutions and hopefully, speed up the planning process as a result. This section of the Brief will therefore set out the kind of things which should be used as Design Codes in the Masterplan.
The context for the development ethos of the site is also set out in other Government design documents, including “By Design” (Cabe/ODPM, 2000)
5.6 It is important to create a sense of place by providing a clear structure for land use and movement with good links to the adjacent residential area, Oxford Road and Portman Road. Where appropriate and acceptable, the existing street pattern/character should appear to be “extended” to integrate the development with the surrounding area and to blend in with the existing urban fabric.
5.7 Considerable importance will be attached to the appearance of the development from the surrounding residential area, including Oxford Road, Portman Road and the neighbouring residential streets. The developers’ Masterplan should include a study of views (existing situation in the character areas; entrances; long-range views; etc.) and a serial vision sequence through the site, set out in, or related to a landscaping masterplan.
5.8 Notwithstanding the recent improvements to Oxford Road, environmental improvements to existing streets and open spaces near the site may be needed to achieve a satisfactory setting for the new development and to assist with integrating it into the surrounding area. This will depend on the nature of planning applications submitted, but is likely to include street furniture, entrance features to the site and measures to reduce the fear of crime, for instance good street lighting (which will also need to be designed to minimise unnecessary light pollution). Suitable improvements will be sought, in negotiation with the developers, as part of an environmental (financial) contribution in tandem with any relevant planning permission(s).