TSA submission to Local Plan consultation 2014

Ideas from a collective conversation of over 30 TSA members – submitted to the St Albans Local Plan consultation

Many thanks to Melvyn Teare and over 30 TSA members for such a constructive meeting!   You can find information on the rest of the consultation on St Albans Green Belt Association website http://www.sagba.org.uk/ 

See ‘Full Submission’ below or click on numbered links below.

  1.   Transport pdf
  2.  Renewable and Low Carbon Energy pdf
  3.   Healthy and Sustainable Environment pdf

Full Submission

Healthy and Sustainable Environment

Development on Green Belt land is in contradiction with preserving biodiversity and preservation of the natural environment, and by planning law should only be considered in exceptional circumstances, when all other options have been exhausted.

If it is proven that exceptional circumstances will require developments in Green Belt land they should be developed as follows (this would also apply to Brownfield sites):

  • Can we have a requirement rather than a suggestion for high level of energy efficiency in all new houses built. Any new houses should be zero carbon homes.
  • Co2 emission targets: in order to fulfil the council’s obligations on carbon reductions, the council should insist that developers consider innovative options on renewables such as solar lit cycle pathways – see Holland example and carbon neutral developments such as ‘BedZed’.
  • Community considerations: each housing development area requires suitable space for community – e.g community building, children’s outside play areas.
  • Sustainable, self-contained developments to reduce car use and associated carbon emissions: community services as doctor’s surgery, shops, schools and opportunities for local jobs should be included, with proper broadband to facilitate home working.
  • Reduce traffic/dependency on London: opportunity for small scale industry to reduce traffic and dependency on London for employment

Outside Space

  • Trees should be an integral part of all new developments. Each housing development should have trees and the council should ensure that the developers plant trees such as apples, pears, cherry and other fruit or bearing trees. Local community groups will be happy to take maintenance on as part of their involvement in their local land, and as they will benefit from eating their own local food.
  • Each housing development should have a space set aside for a community food growing project in order to allow residents without gardens to grown their own food e.g. keep fit, eat well and save money.
  • Communal growing spaces should be incorporated, as should areas for playing football, young people’s zones, play areas etc.
  • We should be creating an environment, which will sustain wildlife, and an assessment as to how successful this is should be built in.
  • Instead on lining roads with verges that are unattractive and unusable, and cost money for ‘weeding’ the council should insist on developers planting edible plants and/or wildflowers good for pollinating insects.
  • Forest gardens should be incorporated in all new developments so as to provide an area that encourages biodiversity and is also productive and pleasant to be in.
  • The areas adjacent to the Broad Areas (i.e what remains of existing green belt) should be planted to provide continuous wildlife corridors like that aspired to by Watling Chase.
  • Fences/walls are barriers to wildlife such as hedgehogs and so should be avoided in favour of hedges – flowering hedges preferably.

Water Considerations

  • Retention of grey water e.g shower/bath water for garden use and e.g toilet flushing should be considered as we have an urgent need to conserve water.
  • Consideration must be given to building large underground water storage tanks for storing grey water
  • All toilets should have minimal flushing capacity
  • All showers should have eco-heads to reduce water use
  • Compost toilets should be built as part of the developments especially in outside areas such as the play areas that will be built.
  • Minimal hard surfaces in new developments, and any hard surfaces to be permeable to water.
  • SUDS rather than run off water going into sewers.
  • Ponds should be incorporated as these are essential for wildlife.

Renewable and Low Carbon Energy

Housing and Buildings

BedZed in the London Borough of Sutton http://www.zedfactory.com/zed/?q=node/102 should be considered as a good example of mixed use carbon neutral development

As the government’s target is for all new houses to be carbon zero by 2016 the housing developers should be held to account on this factor

Houses should all have renewable energy fits such as solar panels, energy efficient boilers and high levels of insulation e.g. at least one metre thick – see Germany example

  • Super insulate roofs, walls and floors for energy efficiency
  • Stipulate a minimum amount of energy efficiency measures in new buildings
  • Raise minimum level of compulsory renewable energy generation in buildings
  • Dwellings should be situated in order to maximise their solar efficiency e.g. roofs facing south
  • The housing developments should include buildings with green roofs
  • Prioritize passive building methods
  • Recommendation of terraced houses that are more energy efficient rather than separate small dwellings
  • Require locally sourced buildings to have priority
  • Use re-usable building materials such as cob and straw bale for housing,
  • Materials used for building should be sourced so that they the energy they use should be taken into account when considering the carbon impact
  • Require some bio-mass boilers to be used in the housing developments to heat the houses (biomass fuel must be sustainably sourced)
  • Consideration should be given to sources that can be used to both cook and heat at the same time.
  • encourage the use of natural drying areas to avoid use of tumble driers
  • All the lighting should be powered by solar panels

Recycling: houses should be designed to make it easier to recycle

Local Community Energy production: developers should have to provide means for community energy production in each new housing development in order to meet carbon reduction targets and in order to give householders a stake in their energy production and in order to reduce bills

Existing Housing Stock- Retrofit all existing housing stock i.e. insulate, solar panels etc….

External Space

  • All community facilities should be energy efficient and have renewable energy
  • Gardens should be oriented for best food growing
  • Encourage composting (managed community compost heaps)
  • Solar farms in adjacent land space should be considered
  • Grow trees within the development
  • All lighting in new developments should be low energy e.g. LED
  • Wind Mills should be seriously considered as a generator of alternative power

Transportation considerations re low carbon and renewable energy

  • Electric charging points should be included in the parking areas,
  • Parking areas should be built on permeable land
  • Secure cycle storage for individuals should be included in the plans – numbers as appropriate for each dwelling.
  • Site with good public transport links in order to reduce car use

Transport Issues

Radical new policy is needed on transport: the volume of new homes can only be successfully absorbed if a radically new policy is adopted to transport.

With regards to ‘significant highway improvements’ if you cannot develop a site with proper public and cycle/walking facilities it would be better to not develop the site at all.   New developments need to be configured in a way that does not increase car use. The new proposals for the sites ‘Broad Locations’ are not accessible and are located on the periphery of the town. More adequate and safe pedestrian/cycle routes should be provided – if proper off street parking cannot be provided for.

Self-contained developments: Developments should be self-contained and sustainable in order to reduce dependency on transport (e.g. local shops, schools, doctors, pub, jobs, good broadband video conference facilities).

The Abbey line will not be serving the proposed new development. The proposed public transport is a good start, though it is too dependant on buss services, more needs to be proposed for example with the development of more light rail across the district.

Transportation routes should create more local connections between local towns rather than increase dependency to London.

Transportation considerations for development

Development should be built with minimum intrusion of traffic on housing areas (e.g. through inclusion of pedestrian and cycle only routes)

  • Cycle paths should be created as a necessary part of development – paths that can lead to green space and to other amenities in the area
  • Secure cycle storage should be provided for each dwelling – appropriate to number of dwellers
  • Electric re-charging points for vehicles installed
  • Make developments permeable to non-motorised users e.g. pedestrians, cycles, children, wheelchair users and those with disabilities –
  • Consider 20mph zones for built-up areas
  • There has to be good transport links to other amenities including stations and rail and bus links, and public transport should exist out of office hours.

Cycling

Cycle Paths

  • More cycle paths, routes, storage facilities should be introduced.
  • Ensure that access is open for pedestrians and cyclists- fast, wide cycle lanes that are off road like in Holland.
  • Cyclists should not have to share paths with pedestrians- it is dangerous.
  • Cycle lanes need to be continuous and link houses, schools, the station and town centres.
  • Cycle paths should have priority over extra parking.
  • So long as cycle paths are wide enough, continuous and well connected they would also provide an excellent network for elderly people in mobility scooters.
  • Priority to cycle routes in order to create a safe cycling routes for cyclists – this will encourage more people to cycle.
  • Solar lit cycle pathways should be considered to light up routes during the night.

Cycling other

  • Research on how to make cycling safer for people on St Albans roads as safety will encourage more people to cycle.
  • Much, much more facilities for secure bike parking both in public places and in flats.

Public Transport

  • The council should subsidise electric car clubs for residents in St Albans
  • Address the needs of disabled people’s mobility and access to public transport in the plans
  • Consider public transport routes that will reduce commuter traffic to and from the station e.g. circular / radial bus routes around the district with routes into the station
  • Speed restrictions to improve air quality and reduce damage to road surfaces as well
  • Make sure that air routes over St Albans cause minimum disruption for new developments
  • Electric car points should be incorporated into new schemes.
  • When necessary to use cars, the council staff should have access to electric car fleet.

 Other Transport issues

  • Sourcing Local Food: the council should prioritise the sourcing of local food including encouraging local food growers space at the market in order to reduce transportation on food which could be grown locally.
  • High Carbon Emission Cars: the council should substantially increase the cost of parking permits for high carbon emission cars with a view to deterring people buying these cars. END
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