Land at
Ford Farm

Norton
Fitzwarren

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Welcome to the community consultation website for the proposed development at Ford Farm, Norton Fitzwarren. 

 

The site on the western edge of Norton Fitzwarren is allocated in the Local Plan for development. Crest Nicholson are working with the land owner West of England Developments to seek planning permission for this development, which can be summarised as:

  • Completion of the Norton Fitzwarren bypass (Great Western Way);

  • Completion of the already consented strategic flood alleviation on the Halse Water;

  • Up to 400 homes, including affordable homes; and

  • Public open space and ecological enhancements.

 

The purpose of this consultation is to inform the local community about the proposals and to provide an opportunity for feedback.  


Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and restrictions on public gatherings, no physical consultation event will be held. Instead, the consultation includes:

  • An online event at 7.30pm on 8 April 2021, details of which can be accessed here

  • Written comments can be made in response through this website or by post/e-mail between 26 March until 16 April 2021.

  • For those who wish to discuss matters directly/are unable to attend the event, details for speaking with the project team by phone are also set out in the contact section. Written comments are however recommended to ensure these are accurately recorded.

 

About Crest Nicholson

Crest Nicholson has been building new homes for over 50 years and is firmly established as a leading developer with a passion for not just building homes, but creating vibrant sustainable communities.

Our mission is to improve the quality of life for individuals and communities, both now and in the future.

 

We are a multi-award winning house builder that operates nationwide, but have extensive experience building homes within the Taunton area including at Firepool Lock and Silk Meadows.  

 

Our Core Principals are Placemaking & Quality, Sustainability & Social Value and Customer Service.

The Site

The site consists of four agricultural fields covering an area of approximately 14 hectares of land. The land is located south of the B3227 and north/east of the Minehead to Taunton railway line. 

The area of land to the western corner has been retained by the vendor to act as a car park for the Somerset West Railway Association to assist with future ambitions for a 'park and ride' facility operated by the railway. The original farmhouse and some associated buildings immediately off of the B3227 also lie outside of the site.

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ALLOCATION BACKGROUND

The site at Ford Farm is allocated under Policy TAU4 of the Taunton Deane Adopted Site Allocations and Development Management Plan 2028. 

 

This forms the last component of planned strategic growth at Norton Fitzwarren, as part of the 'Taunton Urban Area', that has been in place since the 2004 Taunton Deane Local Plan.  The land at Ford Farm is necessary to facilitate completion of the Norton Fitzwarren bypass and the consented Halse Water flood alleviation scheme and.

 

The Ford Farm allocation secures the completion of the bypass and  the consented flood alleviation measures through the delivery of 400 homes to finance these strategic works.

 

The current allocation also seeks 1 hectare of employment land to "assist in the provision of a sustainable development."  As part of the scheme evolution it has not been possible to accommodate the required strategic infrastructure, 400 homes and supporting areas of open space and ecological mitigation and the 1 hectare of employment land within the site.  Given the proximity to employment opportunities within the area and viability considerations this employment land is not included within our proposals.

 

The land within the allocation that falls outside of the proposal site to the west relates to an area of land that West of England Developments have an agreement with the West Somerset Railway Association for use in connection with their operations.

 
 

Constraints and Opportunities

An assessment of site constraints and opportunities has informed the development proposal.

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OPPORTUNITIES

 

  • Delivery of the consented Halse Water flood alleviation scheme, reducing flood risk on the site and in the surrounding area.

  • Delivery of the Norton Fitzwarren bypass / Great Western Way, including improved traffic flow on the B3277.

  • Delivery of enhanced pedestrian and cycle connections, including enhancements to the public right of way and cycle networks.

  • Create an attractive development which is informed by and respects the local character and setting of Norton Fitzwarren.

  • Sustainable location close to the new centre, community facilities and employment opportunities within Norton Fitzwarren and the wider Taunton Urban Area.

  • Provide areas of public open space, including play facilities.

  • Opportunity for ecological enhancement through new and more diverse habitats.

  • Provide much needed housing.

  • Improved access to the West Somerset Railway Association line.

CONSTRAINTS

 

  • Sensitive residential boundary to the east and the farmhouse.

  • Within flood risk zone with land required for flood alleviation scheme and raising of levels to address this – scheme for flood alleviation works is already approved.

  • Easements to electricity pylons/overhead cables.

  • Noise impacts from railway line .

  • Land needed for delivery of by-pass/Great Western Way.

  • Maintenance of Public Rights of Way network and need for new bridge crossing over the Halse Water.

  • Existing mature vegetation and need for ecological buffers.

Scheme Proposals

It is proposed to develop the site for residential development of up to 400 new homes with the delivery of the consented Halse Water flood alleviation scheme and the completion of Norton Fitzwarren bypass from the Great Western Way to the B3227 west of the current farmhouse.  Access to the development parcels will be from this new road.

The master plan illustrates a mix of dwelling types with a range of 1 to 5-bedroom dwellings, areas of public open space, including play facilities and ecological enhancements.  

The Public Right of Way through the site is proposed to be maintained but will require diversion as a result of the flood alleviation scheme.  

A vehicular access to the new West Somerset Railway Association land would also be provided off of the completed bypass.

 

The proposals are informed by ongoing discussions with Somerset West and Taunton Council, which will be followed by a 'hybrid planning application' later in spring this year. 

 

A 'hybrid planning application' is a type of application that is formed by two components divided as follows:

 

  • Full details of the road, flood alleviation works and first 120 homes with its associated infrastructure.

  • Outline details setting out access only for the remaining 280 homes establishing the principle of development and to provide an indication of how the development could be set out. Upon the grant of consent further details of the layout, scale, appearance and landscaping would be delivered in a 'reserved matters' planning application for phases of development.

 

The proposals are structured in this way due to the need to deliver the key infrastructure before any housing is delivered as well as the need to resolve the first phase of development swiftly to help ensure cash flow to finance these works. Subsequent phases will then be developed in turn.

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Site Considerations

Before we prepare a planning application, we have assessed the existing conditions of the site and surrounding area.

ACCESS AND MOVEMENT

Vehicular and pedestrian access to the proposals would be served through the completion of the Norton Fitzwarren bypass / Great Western Way, which would access the B3227 immediately to the west of the retained Ford Farmhouse.  

 

The existing public right of way will also be enhanced to provide a more direct route to the centre of Norton Fitzwarren for pedestrians/cyclists via Station Road. The bypass also provides a cycle path that connects into the wider network of cyclepaths into Taunton.

 

A access connection will also be provided from the new bypass to the new West Somerset Railway Association land.

 

The proposal will produce significant benefits to reducing traffic through the centre of Norton Fitzwarren, overall reducing congestion and providing greater reliability for all road users into Taunton from the B3227. 

 

The on-site car parking levels, the use of electric charging points and cycle parking for each home will reflect the West Somerset and Taunton Council policy guidelines and any demand from residents or visitors to the development will be accommodated entirely within the scheme.  A Travel Plan will be put in place to promote alternatives to the private car.

ENVIRONMENTAL AND LANDSCAPE

The site is not subject to any formal landscape or environmental designations. 

 

Ecological surveys have been undertaken to establish the presence of protected species, including bats. This has also found that the existing Halse Water through the centre of the site is of relatively limited ecological value, with greater emphasis placed on existing drainage channels to the edges of the site. Buffer areas and an increase in suitable habitat for bat foraging will be provided within the development to safeguard these interests. A lighting plan will be submitted with any application to evidence how these can be kept free of light intrusion to remain attractive for use by bats.

 

An ecological net gain will be secured, as calculated under the DEFRA Biodiversity Metric tool, as required by national policy guidance.

 

Landscaping proposals will accompany the scheme to demonstrate how the development will be incorporated into the village and surrounding area.

 

In 2020 Natural England notified various Councils across the region of concerns about the impacts of phosphates changing the habitats within the protected Somerset Levels and Moors, caused in part from phosphate emissions from sewage treatment plants. This has effectively placed a moratorium on development across the region as this could increase these levels further.  

 

Mitigation strategies are being developed to address this through the creation of additional habitat that reduces phosphates.  The scheme will utilise one of these solutions and this work remains ongoing with the Council and various potential providers.

FLOODING AND DRAINAGE

The development area contains areas of flood risk up to and including the functional flood plain.

The flood alleviation scheme has already secured planning consent, with the widened road bridge to Station Road currently being completed by West of England Developments. Funding is required to complete the remaining works and will only be delivered through development of the site, and is why the location was allocated for development.

This scheme will include alterations to the channels through the site to increase the capacity for storing water during storm events so providing flood alleviation to nearby areas and down-stream on the Halse Water. Levels will be raised within the site to allow for their development.

 

Foul sewage would connect into the existing public sewer.

DESIGN, QUALITY AND THE CLIMATE EMERGENCY

The scheme will be informed by an assessment of local character to ensure the scheme relates to than simply is added to Norton Fitzwarren. This will seek to apply common and key design features/materials from the local area.

 

Crest Nicholson are an award-winning developer with a 5* Customer Satisfaction rating under the independent Home Builder Federation satisfaction survey in 2020.

 

We recognise that a climate emergency has been declared by Somerset West and Taunton Council and are in discussions with the Council to address their recently published policy statement as to how planning applications should address this. The scheme will include thermally efficient properties with renewable energy built into the development to reduce carbon emissions. Materials will be sourced and utilised on site to minimise waste and to encourage best practices within the industry. 

 

Delivery and Viability

The proposals are currently in the early stages. However, we wish to be transparent about the process of how the scheme evolves and what it delivers.

PLANNING OBLIGATIONS, DEVELOPMENT COSTS AND VIABILITY

Most major developments contribute what are known as Section 106 obligations, or sometimes referred to as 'planning contributions'/'section 106 contributions' or 'planning gain'. These provide for local infrastructure/service enhancements, such as affordable housing provision or play facilities, and are secured through a contract on the land known as a Section 106 Agreement.  

 

In addition, the Community Infrastructure Levy sets out a defined contribution for each square meter of floorspace created - currently charged at £99.19/m2 to pay for various infrastructure improvements. This is designed to streamline the Section 106 process by removing the need to address many types of infrastructure provision within Section 106 Agreements.

 

The site allocation includes the delivery of strategic infrastructure in the form of the Halse Water flood alleviation scheme and the completion of the Norton Fitzwarren bypass. The land necessary for this is within a flood risk zone as a result and requires levels to be raised to address flood risks on site. Both of these are required to be completed before development can commence.

In addition, when the site was allocated this was on the basis of education improvements being addressed through the Community Infrastructure Levy. Following a change in regulations in 2019Somerset County Council now seek contributions for education facilities in addition to the Community Infrastructure Levy.  This was not anticipated when the site was allocated for development.

 

Furthermore, the identification of phosphate concerns to the Somerset Levels and Moors will necessitate the creation of phosphate reducing habitat meaning further land is necessary to be identified and the cost of providing such a facility to be funded by the developer.

 

These are all classed as 'abnormal costs' that impact on the viability of development.  

 

Crest Nicholson have acquired an 'option agreement'. This means that a planning application will be submitted alongside the landowner and Crest Nicholson will purchase the site upon the grant of planning permission.  This agreement dictates that the price for the land will be defined by the development's needs.  However, a reasonable uplift in value over its existing agricultural use is required to ensure that the sale of the land remains attractive. This in turn ensures that the development and its associated strategic infrastructure delivery remains viable and will go ahead.

VIABILITY ASSESSMENT

We are engaging with Somerset West and Taunton District Council and Somerset County Council as part of the scheme evolution. We will present what is known as an 'open book' viability assessment with the planning application, as required by national policy guidance where viability is in question. This means that the financial position will be publicly declared and available for scrutiny under the planning application process. Discussions will take place with the district valuer to agree realistic costs and values and these will in turn inform the maximum scope of planning obligations possible while ensuring a deliverable scheme.

 

It will be for the Councillors of the Somerset West and Taunton Planning Committee, advised by independent experts, to determine whether any reduction in planning obligations beyond the standard requirements are acceptable.  Such situations are not uncommon on sites that deliver strategic infrastructure.  

 

Next Steps

The details shown on this website represent the current stage of progression informed by surveys and advice from a range of professional consultants. This has been submitted to Somerset West and Taunton Council under a formal pre-application enquiry for feedback also.

Please take the time to attend our consultation event on 8 April 2021 and/or complete our feedback form. Details of both are set out below. The deadline for commenting on this is 16 April 2021. The details of this website will remain available to view after this time as a point of reference.

 

This feedback will inform a future planning application to be made jointly with the landowner – West of England Developments – expected within Spring 2021. A Statement of Community Involvement will be submitted alongside the application summarising the feedback and how the proposals have responded to this.

Once the hybrid permission is secured we would seek to start works quickly and deliver the strategic works and the first phase of 120 dwellings. The timetable for this is however not yet fully set and depends on when permission was issued.  

Subsequent phases would require reserved matters application to be secured. We would however expect the completion of the development within circa four years.

 

Online Consultation Event

We are hosting an online consultation event utilising zoom software at 7.30pm-8.30pm at 8 April 2021.  This will consist of a brief introduction followed by a question and answer session.  

We would be grateful if questions for the event could be issued in advance to ensure we can answer as best as possible. Please make clear that the question is for the event and make clear if you have any time constraints on your attendance so we can best order these. This will also not stop you from issuing your full/additional comments on the proposals as set out above.

The meeting can be accessed using the following link on the day:

 

 

Using the below zoom meeting ID details including alternative phone-in option if you do not have access via the internet.

 

(GB) +44 20 3957 2535 (PIN: 109242657)

 

Please note that you do not need to download the zoom software and the meeting can be accessed through a web browser using the above link.  We do however recommend familiarising yourself with the Zoom software in advance if you have not used it before and guidance can be found at Zoom's help centre here.

 

Please note that the online consultation event will be recorded for the purpose of reporting feedback. This will then be uploaded to this website for those who wish to view the meeting.

 
 

FAQs

What is the proposed scheme for?


To create 400 homes with associated infrastructure, the Halse Water flood alleviation scheme and the completion of the Norton Fitzwarren bypass.




Why is development proposed here and for this many homes?


The site is allocated for this scale of development within the Local Plan under Policy TAU4 of Taunton Deane Adopted Site Allocations and Development Management Plan 2028.

This helps to deliver:

  • The defined housing need of 17,000 homes over the period of 2008-2028 under the Taunton Deane Borough Council Core Strategy 2011-2028.
  • The completion of the Norton Fitzwarren bypass to remove traffic along the B3227 to/from Taunton from passing through the centre of Norton Fitzwarren as set out in the Bridgwater, Taunton & Wellington Future Transport Strategy 2011-2026 (Published 2011 by Somerset County Council).
  • The consented Halse Water flood alleviation scheme reducing flood risks on the Halse Water, the Norton Brook and the River Tone downstream.

This infrastructure would not come forward without the relevant land to facilitate its completion and the volume of housing to make its delivery viable.




Who is proposing the scheme and who will build it out?


Crest Nicholson – trading as Crest Nicholson (South West) Limited – are proposing the scheme alongside the landowner, West of England Developments – trading as West of England Developments (Taunton) No2 Limited.

Further details about Crest Nicholson can be found at our website.




What is a 'hybrid planning application'?


This is a type of application that is formed by two components:

  • Some areas in 'outline' to establish the principle parameters of development and reduce the upfront cost of detailed design work. This is then followed later on by a 'reserved matters' application that provides this detail and would also be subject to public consultation and assessment by the Council.
  • A 'full' application for detailed design of the remaining areas.

Hybrid applications are commonly used in such scenarios to provide key infrastructure before the wider development can come forward or to enable the release of early phases of development while later stages are brought forward at another time. This can spread the cost of detailed design work and is commonplace in large scale schemes.

In the case of this development the proposals will be split as follows:

  • Full details of the road, flood alleviation works and first 120 homes with its associated infrastructure; and
  • Outline details setting out access only for the remaining 280 homes establishing the principle of development and to provide an indication of how the development could be set out. Upon the grant of consent further details of the layout, scale, appearance and landscaping would be delivered in a 'reserved matters' planning application for phases of development.




When will an application be submitted?


We intend to submit a planning application in Spring 2021.




When would building start and how long would it last for?


Because the proposal is a hybrid application this cannot be stated for sure.

Nevertheless, we would hope to secure planning permission later in 2021 and to commence construction of the flood alleviation and bypass infrastructure in 2022, delivering this in 2022 alongside the first homes.

This key infrastructure has to be delivered before any homes can be occupied.

It is anticipated that reserved matters applications would follow and be granted within 2022 allowing delivery of remaining phases. Development itself would take circa 4 years in total depending on delivery rates.




How would building works impact nearby properties?


Building works are inherently disruptive, but industry best practice seeks to minimise this as far as is reasonably possible. West Somerset and Taunton Council would require a Construction Environment Management Plan for a development of this type that ensures these best practice measures are put in place. This would control things such as working hours and delivery practices to prevent noise nuisance, vibration and ensure dust suppression, as well as control construction traffic.




Why are flood alleviation works necessary?


The Strategic Flood Risk Assessment for the area identifies that the River Tone, where the Norton Brook (which is fed by the Halse Water) and several other tributaries join, presents a risk of flooding to large areas of land to the west of and inside Taunton – principally the areas of Tangier, North Town and Priorswood, as well as parts of Norton Fitzwarren. This occurs because the levels of the River Tone at high rainfall events prevent the tributaries from discharging via the River.

This effects approximately 1,000 properties with a chance of flooding of over 1 in 100 each year under the highest flood risk classification under the Environment Agency's standards.

A significant flood event occurred in 1960 affecting more than 360 homes, and other more minor events have occurred in 2000, 2007, 2009 and 2012, as well as the Somerset Levels & Moors floods downstream of the River Tone of 2013/2014. It is predicted that a single major flood event could cost the local economy up to £50m. In addition, climate change is predicted to increase the frequency and severity of such events increasing the risk by 2119 to approximately 2,500 properties.

The consented flood alleviation works at Ford Farm contribute to a wider series of measures organised by Somerset West and Taunton District Council and the Environment Agency by reducing flood risk within Norton Fitzwarren and slowing the discharge of flood water into the River Tone.

Reducing flood risk also provides further development opportunities around the Taunton Urban Area, including at Ford Farm, to help place necessary housing growth within more sustainable locations.




What flood alleviation works are proposed at Ford Farm?


Permission has been secured since 2014 for flood works at Ford Farm and more recently in 2020 to also now include the immediate surrounds under the ownership of the West Somerset Railway Trust to utilise the existing drainage network more efficiently. This comprises of:

  • Improved conveyance through widening of Station Road Bridge (currently being completed), removing an existing bottleneck for floodwater.

  • Improved conveyance and storage across the site through widening of the Ford Farm Ditch and creation of a new channel along the southern and eastern boundaries linking up to the Halse Water at Station Road.

  • Residual ground raising and bunding across the site to further protect existing and proposed properties.

The permission issued in November 2020 is the latest consent and details of this can be viewed via the Council's website using the reference 25/20/0016.

This permission includes parameters for a new ditch through the Ford Farm site, which our planning application will incorporate. This will also help reduce the flood risks within the Ford Farm site.




What flood alleviation works have been completed to date in the area?


As part of the strategic development elsewhere within Norton Fitzwarren, the Halse Water and Norton Brook have been improved with channel widening and increased storage capacity.

West of England Developments are currently carrying out the works to the road bridge at Station Road to facilitate the consented flood alleviation works.

More widely the Norton Fitzwarren Dam was completed in 2008 to store water during heavy rainfall and allow for its slow release after such events. This was designed to both reduce flood risk and release land for (re)development. The Ford Farm site however acts as a bottleneck to this facility, which is why the collective works are necessary.




Why is the Norton Fitzwarren bypass necessary?


The Norton Fitzwarren bypass is set out within the Bridgwater, Taunton & Wellington Future Transport Strategy 2011-2026 (Published 2011 by Somerset County Council) and the Taunton Deane Borough Council Infrastructure Delivery Plan Review 2014.

The bypass provides multiple benefits:

  • Improved traffic flow to/from Taunton along the B3227 reducing journey times and improving reliability and predictability for cars, buses and commercial traffic
  • Removes traffic from the centre of Norton Fitzwarren improving safety and reducing noise/pollutants
  • Delivery of cycle path connectivity alongside the bypass that connects into routes through to central Taunton
  • Provides improved connection to the Norton Fitzwarren train station for future rail connectivity opportunities

Collectively these benefit local residents/businesses, but this also helps facilitate the strategic growth around Norton Fitzwarren and the Taunton Urban Area. It was originally intended that the bypass be delivered much earlier but this has not proved possible to date due to the costs of facilitating its building.




How can I be sure that the flood alleviation scheme and bypass will come forward before any housing is built?


The Council's adopted policy sets out that these works will be necessary before any housing is available at the site. This will either be secured by a legal agreement or condition on the planning permission.




How will the scheme impact on local wildlife?


An ecological survey and protected species surveys have been carried out to inform the development proposals.

It is accepted that the development and any delivery of the flood alleviation scheme and bypass will have some impacts. In mitigation extensive areas of ecological enhancement are proposed that will overall increase biodiversity. This is calculated by the DEFRA (Department for the Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs) Biodiversity Metric.

Buffer areas are proposed to the hedgerows and waterways to ensure appropriate habitat protection.

A Landscape and Ecological Management Plan will ensure that any disruption during construction works is minimised and the public open space and habitat is actively managed and secured for ecological benefits into the future.




How will the scheme impact on local traffic?


A transport assessment has been compiled. This carries out a traffic modelling assessment based on a national database of completed developments that can be selected based on similar scenarios to provide industry best practice comparable 'real world' outcomes. This concludes that the proposal would have an acceptable impact upon traffic within the local area, notwithstanding the benefits from the completion of the bypass to Norton Fitzwarren.

Safe access via the completed bypass will be provided, including pedestrian and cycle connections.

The existing B3227 into Norton Fitzwarren will be retained with a new junction by the site entrance providing priority to the bypass traffic.




How will the scheme impact on local services?


The provision of housing brings in new people who utilise local services. Funding is secured from new development via the Council in order to address this additional demand. This is achieved by two mechanisms: the Community Infrastructure Levy and what are known as 'section 106 contributions'.

The Community Infrastructure Levy secures money from developments to be used to fund a wider range of local services. This is based on every square metre of new floorspace and is currently charged at £99.19/m2 (subject to an inflation index). This figure would be calculated at the time of the grant of consent for any single phase once the total floorspace was known.

In addition to this, 'section 106 contributions' are financial payments made by developers to ensure that new development does not increase pressure on local infrastructure and services and can be used to fund specific services not addressed by the Community Infrastructure Levy. Contributions can be made towards a range of infrastructure and services, such as affordable housing and education.

As set out elsewhere within this website, we anticipate that viability constraints could limit the extent of possible planning contributions. This will be subject to a detailed and open evidence base agreed with the Council.




Why are you consulting now and not waiting until after the COVID-19 pandemic so you can hold a physical meeting?


The government have made clear that they do not wish to see life and the economy to stall entirely. They have put in place emergency legislation to allow Councils and developers to carry out consultation and continue to progress planning applications in the current circumstances.




I know someone who does not have access to the internet. How can they understand the proposals without viewing this website?


We can send paper copies of the website materials to anyone who requests to do so.




How can I make my views known?


Please see the Next Steps section of this website.

When an application is made, the Council will also consult nearby residents and the Parish Council for their views. This would also occur at any reserved matters application (see above).




How can I discuss the scheme with someone?


Please contact the appointed planning consultants Pegasus Group via the details at the Next Steps section of this website, should you have any other queries/wish to discuss the matter. Any queries that require input from relevant experts within the project team can be directed accordingly and responded to. Please ask to speak with Jonathan Coombs.




How will my data be used?


The responses to the consultation will help inform the final application submission. A Statement of Community Involvement will be submitted with the application summarising the feedback given and how this has been responded to.

Pegasus Group (trading as Pegasus Planning Group Ltd) are appointed by Crest Nicholson (South West) Ltd to carry out public consultation on their behalf. Any information provided on comments forms or in correspondence will only be used in accordance with the General Data Protection Regulations by Pegasus Group for the purposes of consultation on the development proposals and will not be disclosed with any third parties, other than in aggregate form with no personal details given.





 

Contact Us

If you should have any further queries, please do not hesitate to contact the project team as below. 

If you know of any relevant party that is unable to access the internet, please contact us to arrange for a paper version of the website to be issued.

Thanks for submitting!