Cycling could be encouraged by setting up an e-bike club
We are excited to share with you our updated proposals for Caxton Hill Works. In normal circumstances, we would have loved to hold a public exhibition and meet you in person. However, in light of the COVID-19 outbreak, we have decided to proceed with our consultation virtually. The safety of both local residents and our team is our top priority. By holding a virtual exhibition we can ensure that the community is properly consulted and continues to have the opportunity to share its thoughts and input into our proposals whilst abiding by the Government’s lockdown guidelines. We are fully aware of the importance of community input when submitting proposals. As such, your feedback is extremely valuable to us. As you progress through the virtual exhibition, you will notice a number of prompts that will ask you to share your thoughts and opinions. We kindly ask that you take the time to complete and submit your answers to these questions. There will also be an opportunity for you to share additional comments at the end of the process. We hope that you enjoy the exhibition – and we encourage you to share your feedback before the 26th January
1) Which of the following best describes you?
You are on step one
The Caxton Hill Works site, currently known as the Hertford Industrial Estate, forms part of the wider designated Employment Area ‘Caxton Hill’ in the adopted East Herts District Plan (2018). However, the site is in a state of disuse. It fails to fulfil its potential as a strategic piece of brownfield land within Hertford and is visually out of keeping with the rest of the local community.
Due to the low ceilings, the presence of asbestos and a poor energy efficiency rating, the current buildings are unappealing to prospective tenants. The majority of the units have Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) ratings of F and G (the lowest energy efficiency ratings), meaning expensive renovation works, estimated to cost £11 million would be needed before they could be legally let. This unfortunately means in our opinion renovation is not an option.
Additionally, poor access to the site restricts operations in terms of servicing. Considering that neighbouring roads are generally residential in nature, they are largely unsuitable for the amount and type of traffic generated by a busy industrial estate of this nature. The 2016 Hertford and Ware Employment Land Study, an independent external study commissioned by the Council and forming part of the East Herts District Plan evidence base, stated that the site is ‘the least satisfactory industrial estate in terms of both quality and access’, adding that the estate is considered especially problematic due to ‘a significant concentration of poor quality space in a poor location for B2-B8 uses’.
This is proven by the current uptake of units on the site. Nearly ninety percent of them are vacant, with only five units occupied. Despite running a marketing campaign since June 2018, only one unit has been rented. Meanwhile, a further two tenants have vacated their premises.
Whilst a refurbishment project was considered, the prohibitive cost of c. £11million means that this is not a viable option. As such, redeveloping the site is the only way to transform the area from its current dilapidated state to one that complements the local area. After carefully considering these factors, Eastwood and VFund are developing proposals that will retain and enhance the employment offer on site, making it more suitable and appealing to small and medium sized local businesses, as well as delivering much-needed housing to the area.
2) Do you agree that the site’s current unviability means redevelopment is necessary?
You are on step two
A Garden City is a holistically planned new settlement which enhances the natural environment and offers high-quality housing and locally accessible work in beautiful, healthy and sociable communities. Though our site forms part of a wider community in Hertford and does not stand alone, we have decided to apply some of the key Garden City principles to our masterplan, whilst better incorporating the site into the surrounding community. These align with the concepts set out in the National Planning Policy Framework, and the principles set out by the Town and Country Planning Association. These included:
Further information can be found via the TCPA website: www.tcpa.org.uk/garden-city-principles We want to create a healthy, interconnected community that puts the natural environment at its centre. We will seek to limit journeys by car, firstly by creating a walkable neighbourhood and secondly by delivering a wide range of local jobs as part of the proposals. It is also our intention to provide a mix of housing types, including genuinely affordable homes that are imaginatively designed and draw upon the needs and vision of the local community. Alongside this, good employment opportunities and additional social infrastructure will help to foster a community sense of ownership, complementing the abundance of active community groups that already exist in the area.
3) Do you think Garden City Principles should be incorporated into the Masterplan?
You are on step three
Before the acquisition of the site by Eastwood it was owned by LaSalle, a leading Industrial Management and Investment company. Despite extensive experience in this field, they were unable to make the site viable purely from commercial use. Whilst the development of our proposals is at an early stage, we are clear that the most beneficial option for the wider community, whilst ensuring the development will be a success, is an approximately 50/50 mix of residential and commercial space.
Even if refurbishment was an option that was possible, significant challenges remain. For instance, the site’s current layout makes it difficult for tenants to manage the level and type of traffic required for their businesses. Various options for increasing access to the site have been explored, including the possibility of opening up the John Tate Road onto the Foxholes Estate, these have proved unachievable for various reasons, including land ownership issues. These limitations pose a challenge to any development proposed for the site, which is why we have put interconnectivity, sustainable transport and landscaping that encourages this at the heart of our design. With this in mind, we have designed the landscaping and layout of the site in line with existing green spaces and features whilst focusing in on these objectives:
4) Do you support a holistic approach to the site that combines residential and commercial uses whilst considering the relationship between them?
You are on step four
In designing the commercial section of the site, we wanted to provide legibility to routes, provide benefits to the future potential tenants of the site whilst limiting the impact of it on surrounding residences.
We have included an ‘arrival square’, a dedicated space placed at the main entrance of the masterplan, in order to provide a welcoming experience for residents, businesses and visitors. In doing so, the potential for a new pedestrian route from the residential section to the area north of the site is also created. In line with this, landscaped sections at key nodes and visual termini provide additional interconnectivity for pedestrians and cyclists, whilst maximising the impact of theses features by concentrating them in the most important areas of the commercial section. This has also allowed key views to be created across the site, improving legibility and wayfinding, whilst in contrast buffer landscape has been used to the north-east of the section to obscure it from the existing residences next to the site. The strategic use of landscaping in this section will allow the maximisation of visual amenity for businesses, whilst supporting existing green infrastructure and limiting the impact of the development on the surrounding area.
Whilst with the residential section we are following many of the same principles as the commercial section, including maximising green space, improving interconnectivity and increasing biodiversity, our proposals also reflect the different purpose of this area.
In this section there is a significant potential increase in overall green space, most notably through the facilitation of a potential green east-west link following the south-eastern boundary of the site. This new greenery supplements what already exists on the site, including the mature tree belt on the south-western border. Whilst public amenity space has been included, we have also considered the need for private amenity space for future residents of the site. The inclusion of the private communal amenity space at the centre of the proposed buildings means that it can be private and secluded, whilst not compromising on the interconnectivity of the public space or key views throughout the site. The inclusion of substantial green and amenity space in this way has allowed there to both be significant interconnectivity throughout the site, and a clear separation between the two sections.
Between the proposed commercial and residential area we have proposed a green avenue with segregated footpaths and traffic calmed roads, suitable for cyclists, that also allow for car access. Its layout is designed to allow for a clear divide between the two uses, whilst providing the ability to explicitly allow the key views through the site to be maintained.
In addition, with the avenue running through the majority of the site a number of opportunities for wider sustainability are created. The inclusion of trees and other greening will provide a habitat for wildlife, whilst a Sustainable Drainage System (SuDS) can collect rainwater, improving drainage and reducing demand for water. This avenue successfully balances the objectives of improving paths for pedestrians and cyclists through the site, whilst creating a natural barrier to separate the two uses, reducing the impact of the commercial buildings on the residential area.
5) Do you welcome the new pedestrian and cycle route?
6) Do you think that the layout of the site will increase journeys by foot and bicycle?
You are on step five
Whilst the layout of the site provides the opportunity for increased journeys by foot and bicycle, we have carefully considered how we can further encourage this. In doing so, the proposals would relieve pressure from Ware Road, particularly in combination with the change of commercial traffic from HGVs to predominantly box vans. These limitations pose a challenge to any development proposed for the site, which is why we have put interconnectivity and sustainable transport at the heart of our design principles. Alongside these challenges, there is also a significant opportunity to join up a number of green spaces surrounding the site through pedestrian and cycle paths, creating a high-quality, diverse and well maintained landscape. Firstly, throughout the site improved paving, signage, lighting, and landscape maintenance will be prioritised. In addition, we are considering a number of schemes and incentives that will assist behaviour changes and support local residents and workers to travel more sustainably:
Cycling could be encouraged by setting up an e-bike club
Use of other sustainable methods of travel
Education and training
Whilst the exact schemes and initiatives are still under discussion, these are a number of ideas being considered as part of a comprehensive package of measures to promote walking and cycling over car use.
7) Would you welcome these potential schemes that would encourage the use of sustainable transport?
You are on step six
When considering the two elements of the proposed development we have focussed on not just their design themselves but their relationship with each other, as well as with the wider community. Our objective is to offer a rich variety of high-quality homes and workplaces where people want to live, work, visit and do business. This will attract businesses to the proposed development, confident they can attract key staff to live and possibly raise a family set in an attractive neighbourhood. At the same time, local employment opportunities created by the commercial section will make the homes both within and around the development more attractive to potential residents.
When considering the design of the proposed buildings, we have looked to balance the existing character of the area with inspiration from other outstanding developments from the last few years. In the same way that we have designed the layout of the site to complement and benefit the wider community, we pursued the same objectives with the designs themselves. This has meant taking inspiration from the materials used in surrounding buildings and will mean adapting the height of the proposed buildings to the surrounding area. The height of the residential buildings will predominantly be 2,3 and 4 storeys in the residential area, with some taller focal points (possible 5 storey small elements) as attractors for the site, addressing the arrival square. All buildings will be sensitively designed, taking advantage of the existing landscape to minimise their impact and improving placemaking.
8) Do you welcome the references to the wider area within the potential building designs?
You are on step seven
Our objective for the commercial section of the site is to provide cutting-edge business facilities for a range of companies, which has the flexibility to allow them to remain on the site as they grow and develop. We have made sure that the design is flexible so that a wide range of unit sizes can be accommodated, potentially providing suitable space for a range of businesses, from start-ups to health tech, life sciences, advanced manufacturing, and ICT companies.
Additionally, by including the capacity for mezzanine floors and the potential to combine units, as these businesses grow their needs can be met, leading to an increased retention of companies within the site. This ‘grow-on space’ fits the demands of small and medium enterprises (generally used to describe firms with less than 250 employees) in Hertford, and will allow the local economy to continue to benefit as these businesses grow.
Alongside this, we will encourage businesses to play an active role in the community, developing mutually beneficial relationships with the wider area and promoting long term links that will encourage them to continue to use this location. Businesses will also require additional facilities that can be provided communally, reducing their cost and therefore the price of commercial space on the site. We have included a ‘Hub’, situated prominently adjacent to the arrival zone, which will provide bookable meeting rooms, shower rooms, a coffee shop and co-working space.
In addition, we have ensured that the commercial offer is fit for the future, providing electric car charging facilities and ultra-fast fibreoptic broadband with speeds of over 100Mbps.
9) Do you think that by making commercial space flexible and adaptable, businesses are more likely to stay on the site?
You are on step eight
Whilst our proposals for the residential portion of the site are still developing, we have taken the decision to provide the residential area, necessary for the viability of the development, in a way that maximises the amount of commercial space on the site.
To create a mixed and balanced development which maximises the commercial section, the proposals will incorporate a mix of approximately 200 1, 2 and 3 bed homes. In the same way that the commercial space is designed for businesses’ growth and development, we will take into account the changing needs of individuals and families at different stages of life, making sure that the homes are flexible and adaptable. All homes will meet or exceed the national described space standards, will be designed to Home Quality Mark standards, and will have direct access to private amenity space in the form of balconies, patios, or terraces.
10) Do you agree that it is important for homes to be adaptable to individuals’ and families changing circumstances?
11) Do you agree that the inclusion of approximately 200 units is to be welcomed as it facilitates redevelopment of the site as a whole?
You are on step nine
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