MEDWAY COUNCIL CABINET 27 NOVEMBER 2007 CHATHAM BUS STATION PROPOSALS RESULTS OF THE PUBLIC CONSULTATION EXERCISE Portfolio Holder: Councillor Rodney Chambers, Leader Councillor Jane Chitty, Strategic Development and Economic Growth Report from: Robin Cooper, Director of Regeneration and Development Authors: Sara Purvis, Chatham Project Manager 1. Summary 1.1 This report is to advise members of the results of the public consultation exercise carried out on the new proposed location of the bus station at Globe Lane/Military Road. 2. Decision Issues 2.1 The inclusion of a new bus station will be incorporated into the Chatham Centre and Waterfront SPD which is consistent with the saved policies in the 2003 Medway Local Plan. Therefore this is a matter for Cabinet. 2.2 The Cabinet is asked to accept this item as urgent given that Cabinet had asked for the results of the consultation to be reported to this meeting following its original consideration on 16 October 2007. 3 Background 3.1 In June 2004, Medway Council adopted the Chatham Centre and Waterfront Development Framework as Supplementary Planning Guidance (SPG) to the adopted Medway Local Plan. This document promotes improved public transport facilities for Chatham and proposes a bus station in the Sir John Hawkins Way area. In addition, the recently adopted Pentagon Development Brief which sits under the overall development framework is predicated on the relocation of the bus station providing the opportunity to improve and extend the shopping centre. 3.2 In May 2006 EDAW were appointed to work with the Council to co- ordinate the masterplanning of key sites to produce the Chatham Centre and Waterfront Supplementary Planning Document (SPD). The study area was divided into the following three masterplan areas: • The Brook • The Station Gateway • The Waterfront. 3.3 In July 2006, three sets of masterplanners: Llewleyn Davies Yeang, Maccreanor Lavington and Urban Initiatives were appointed to prepare masterplans to stimulate and guide the development of each of the areas. Mott MacDonald and DTZ were also appointed to provide transportation and economic feasibility advice with respect to delivery. 3.4 The area covered by the SPD extends from Chatham Railway Station in the southwest to Fort Amherst in the north, to Luton Arches in the east and to the River Medway in the west. It incorporates both the ‘Core Retail Area’ and ‘Medway’s “City” Centre Riverside Allocation’, as defined on the Adopted Local Plan (2003) Proposals Map. 3.5 The consultation draft SPD sought to provide improved public transport infrastructure, including a proposal for a new bus station on land currently occupied by the flyover and the Sir John Hawkins Way car park. 3.6 During the public consultation exercise carried out during the summer on the SPD for Chatham there was significant support for improved bus facilities in Chatham including a replacement for the existing Bus Station. However many felt that the proposed site at Sir John Hawkins Way was not ideal. Many felt it was too far from the Pentagon Centre or High Street and in a location that would not encourage greater use in the evenings. The owners of the Pentagon Centre also expressed concerns that a relocation of the Bus Station away from the centre might have an adverse impact on the future viability of the Military Road end of the shopping centre. 3.7 Due to the negative feedback received during the consultation officers looked at other options for the location of a bus station. A bus station close to the Railway Station was considered but this option was not pursued as it was considered to not best meet the needs of the majority of existing or prospective users and would require significant and costly land acquisition which is likely to take some time to deliver. Improved services to and from the station can in any event be offered by delivering a bus station along the route of St John Hawkins Way/Globe Lane, which will allow the provision of more through services. It is intended to retain a bus facility at the station, which would form part of a new station plaza. 3.8 The location of a bus station on land between and incorporating Globe Lane and Military Road was also considered. This location known as The Paddock has for many years served as a focus for bus routes and it is still used by those services that do not have access to the Pentagon Bus Station. 3.9 After extensive analysis of each of these options and further consultation with the main bus operators and owners of the Pentagon Centre it was considered that the Globe Lane/ Military Road site could offer a good alternative location for a new bus facility in Chatham, and it would support the regeneration of the waterfront and refurbishment and extension of the Pentagon Centre both of which are key to Chatham’s regeneration. 3.10 The site is level, is in council ownership and could be developed whilst the existing bus station continued in use. Development of this site would also free up the Sir John Hawkins Car Park site for other development uses. It was therefore recommended to Cabinet in October that this location be supported and a planning application made to enable funding opportunities for the bus station to be pursued and detailed plans for the Pentagon Centre to be developed. 3.11 On 16 October 2007 Cabinet resolved to undertake a consultation exercise to assess the suitability of a new bus station between Globe Lane and Military road adjacent to the Pentagon Shopping Centre, and requested that the results of this be reported back to Cabinet in November 2007. 3.12 Details of the consultation exercise that was undertaken are set out in section 4 below. 4. Consultation Methodology 4.1 Due to the timescale available to conduct the public consultation in order to be able to report the results back to Cabinet in November a relatively short period of consultation has been undertaken. However, despite the short timescale an extensive range of means of communication have been employed, to aim to reach as many interested people as possible. The consultation involved: • Residents and businesses notified via the press (full-page advertisements in four local newspapers, plus coverage on BBC south-east news), • Information available on the Council’s website, • Posters in main council buildings, council contact points and 16 local libraries, • 4000 flyers were distributed within the Pentagon Shopping Centre & High Street, the Universities at Medway, and at the four local train stations and the existing bus station, • A two-day staffed exhibition was held at the Pentagon shopping centre on 16 and 17 November • Consultees from the earlier consultation who had provided email addresses were contacted individually • Key stakeholders such as the Pentagon Centre and the bus operators were also asked to give their views. 4.2 Three methods were provided for submitting comments: (i) writing comments on the flyer or the press adverts and dropping them into Comments Boxes provided at the local libraries, main Council buildings, council contact points and the Pentagon display; (ii) completing an online feedback form on the council website www.medway.gov.uk /chathamischanging; (iii) sending an email. Letters received and comments made by telephone to the Chatham project manager were also recorded. 4.3 The most important aspect of the results of the consultation is an understanding of the issues that are of concern to respondents, and not necessarily just the numerical information. 5. Consultation Results 5.1 Despite the short period for consultation a relatively high number of responses have been received. In part it is considered that this is due to the consultation being on a single issue only, compared to the more lengthy consultation undertaken earlier in the year on the draft SPD. A total of 360 feedback responses have been received, of these 246 (69 %) residents and stakeholders replied were opposed to locating the bus-station on the Paddock and 83 (23%) residents and stakeholders were supportive. 29 (around 8%) made comments but did not give a preference and 2 (under 0.5%) gave no opinion but asked questions. 5.2 Most responses received are from residents, with only few responses from individuals representing businesses or other stakeholders. 5.3 Of the 246 residents and stakeholders who were opposed to the bus station the greatest proportion (around half of those opposed) were concerned about the removal of the trees and the loss of open space, a large proportion of respondents (around a quarter of those opposed) said they would prefer the bus station to stay in its current location, particularly if the existing bus station could be improved, and several respondents were opposed due to the effect on traffic, in particular the proposal to close Globe Lane to traffic, and the implications for the closure of the flyover and Medway Street to through traffic. A number of respondents expressed a preference for the originally proposed site at Sir John Hawkins Way car park, or other sites around the town centre and at the train station. 5.4 Some 83 residents and stakeholders were supportive of the location on the Paddock site, although a number of these responses were conditional on the open space being replaced elsewhere, and trees being retained or replaced, some were conditional on a covered walkway being provided between the Pentagon Centre and bus station and some on measures to ensure free flowing traffic. 5.5 It is clear from the exercise undertaken that there are very strong feelings locally regarding the area known as the Paddock and a strong wish to retain this as an open amenity space. The trees there, particularly the horse chestnuts, seem from the responses given, to be highly valued as an asset to the town. The proposal to close Globe Lane to through traffic also caused concern, particularly in the light of the recent issues surrounding the closure, and subsequent reopening of the flyover. There was confusion that the bus station proposal would necessitate its closure again. 5.6 The two proposals for new sites for the bus station have both had objections raised against them during public consultation, however it is not a realistic option to leave the bus station in its current location, as it can not cope with future expansion and is not fit for today’s standards, and it is not considered that there are any other large enough, suitable and available sites within the town centre. 5.7 Following this consultation exercise there is a need to reconsider all options and report back to Cabinet in December with a report on the revisions proposed to the SPD, and this will include a recommendation for the proposed location of the bus station. 6. Advice and analysis 6.1 Cabinet should note that the bus station in Chatham is a key element to the delivery of the infrastructure necessary for the overall regeneration programme. It forms the centre of an improved bus network for the area, developed from the Transport for Medway Study. A number of current bids for funding are dependent on the building of a functional new facility, and the cooperation of the bus operators. Our current bid for Central Infrastructure Funds has been recommended by the Regional Transport Board to the Department for Transport as priority for the area and comes to £111.4 million, of which £38 million relates to improved bus service provision across Medway. Failure to provide the dynamic bus facility in central Chatham in accordance with the current programme would jeopardise this bid. 7. Financial and legal implications 7.1 The Chatham Town Centre and Waterfront Supplementary Planning Document has been prepared in accordance with the provisions of the Planning and Compensation Act 2004. It must conform with policies in the Medway Local Plan 2003. 7.2 Once the overall document is adopted, further publicity, in accordance with the regulations covering supplementary planning documents, will be required. This is to ensure it is brought to the attention of the public and all other interested parties. 7.3 The costs of producing documents, leaflets and exhibition material have been met from the approved Medway Renaissance budget. Post adoption costs can also be met from existing budgets. 7.4 It is proposed that the new Bus Station will be funded by government grant from the department for Communities and Local Government (CLG). A full ‘Green Book’ appraisal setting out the costs and benefits of a new Bus Station has already been prepared and approved by CLG and whilst this might need slight adjustment to reflect the proposed new site there is confidence that further funding should be forthcoming. 7.5 It is estimated that the Bus Station will cost between £5.5 and £6.0 million to develop and sufficient funding from CLG is already in place up until March 2008 to cover the cost of detailed design, a planning application and preliminary works. It is proposed to submit an early application for further funding of £4.5 million to allow a projected start on site in Spring/Summer 2008 and an opening in Spring/Summer 2009. 8. Recommendation 8.1 That Cabinet notes the results of the public consultation exercise. 9. Suggested Reasons for Decision 9.1 To ensure the Cabinet is informed of the results of the consultation exercise in advance of a report to Cabinet in December including details of the new bus station. Lead officer contact Sara Purvis, Chatham Project Manager, Eastgate House Annex, High Street, Rochester Tel 01634 337155. Email firstname.lastname@example.org Background papers Responses to public consultation – available from Cabinet Office
"MEDWAY COUNCIL CABINET 27 NOVEMBER 2007 CHATHAM BUS STATION"