Decision Maker: Cabinet
Decision status: Implemented
Is Key decision?: Yes
Is subject to call in?: Yes
For consideration prior to
The Cabinet had before it a *report of the Director of Place requesting approval of the Cullompton Higher Bullring public realm enhancement concept design for public consultation, and to handover to Devon County Council for design development and implementation.
The Cabinet Member for Planning and Economic Regeneration outlined the contents of the report providing some background information on the award of funding for the scheme and the stage 1 public consultation process that had already taken place, the conclusion of which had demonstrated strong support for the public realm enhancements around the Higher Bullring with 89% stating that this area needed improvement. Consultants had been appointed and had developed a concept design focused on the Higher Bullring area alongside Historic England and highway officers from Devon County Council, which could be delivered in advance of the relief road. He added that the key considerations in the course of the design included the War Memorial, the street trees, the bus stop, facilitation of loading and unloading and the parking in the area.
The Member informed the meeting that the proposal had set out the creation of an enhanced, expanded and decluttered public realm focused around a new square framing the War Memorial and providing a central focus. He stated that if the recommendations were approved it would mark another important milestone for Cullompton and would demonstrate the Council’s continued commitment to delivering significant improvements for the town and its residents.
In response to questions raised in public question time, the Cabinet Member stated that with regard to the consultation:
Recommendation 1 – this was to approve the concept design for public consultation.
Recommendation 2- this was to delegate authority to the Director of Place (in consultation with the Cabinet Member for Planning and Economic Regeneration) to finalise the material and arrangements for public consultation.
Recommendation 3 – this was to instruct DCC to take forward the project through to implementation which would ensure timely delivery of their detailed design work and also ensured that they were fully instructed on the project. The project programme was, and always had been, very challenging given the limited funding window from Historic England. Achieving the sign-off here to instruct DCC saved valuable programme time and made delivery within the funding period possible.
Recommendation 4 – this was to delegate authority to the Director of Place (in consultation with the Cabinet Member for Planning and Economic Regeneration) to work with DCC to build in the views and public consultation responses into the design.
The consultation would be meaningful, but the challenging project programme and the limited available window of project funding was a key consideration which had to also be balanced.
The consultation would focus, where it could add maximum value allowing for programme constraints. Officers from MDDC and DCC would work hard to ensure that consultation findings were incorporated into the final detailed design wherever practicable.
With regard to the question about a parking bay for emergency vehicles, he stated that no disabled parking spaces from the eastern side of the Higher Bullring would be removed, with four disabled spaces shown on the concept design as was currently the case. The spaces had been rearranged slightly to reflect the minor relocation of the existing pedestrian island, which needed to be moved very slightly to continue to allow adequate vehicle turning movements.
In terms of the provision of emergency vehicle parking, it was understood that adequate provision was considered to currently exist for this. This would also form part of the DCC consultation into the Traffic Orders, whereby emergency services would be consulted as part of this process and findings from this would be considered appropriately.
Referring to the bus bay being removed, the Member stated that through the course of their work the project team had sought to ensure that existing traffic flows and vehicle movements were maintained. Sufficient road widths existed to enable vehicles to pass, including when buses were using the layby. DCC had been involved in this design work and were comfortable at this stage that the plans showed sufficient space for passing and the movement of traffic.
With regard to the installation of cameras during the consultation period: Traffic data was available from the Relief Road planning application, and this had been considered by the project team in the development of the proposals, along with consideration of the type of vehicles using the High Street. DCC had stated that contemporary traffic data would be gathered at an appropriate time during the detailed design phase to ensure that the project benefits from up to date and accurate data.
With regard to whether the traders had been involved in the initial consultation, the Cabinet Member stated that the project team had hosted a Town Centre Business Open Evening. All businesses in the town centre were invited to this, with flyers delivered and a press release issued.
Consultants at this event presented the public realm enhancement project, and were able to seek feedback from businesses attending on the developing ideas.
A total of 8 town centre businesses attended this session. Overall feedback from the event was generally in agreement with the emerging themes presented, including support for a de-cluttered streetscape, high quality materials and more space around the War Memorial.
In terms of parking provision, survey work and analysis by the project team had concluded that sufficient parking existed elsewhere in the town centre to accommodate the removal of the ten spaces.
With regard to the relief road and the impact of development to the west on the local infrastructure, he stated that the project was following a tight programme, with construction anticipated from spring 2023 for around 6 months. This may mean that it would proceed ahead of any confirmed start date for the Relief Road. The overarching project concluded in March 2024 when the funding window closed, and so it was important to start as soon as feasible. The concept design had been developed, in consultation with DCC, in such a way that it could be delivered as a standalone phase in advance of the Relief Road opening, while also allowing a planned and phased approach to future enhancement works should circumstances allow. Officers from MDDC would continue to work with DCC to ensure that disruption to Cullompton was minimised in the delivery of this and other infrastructure projects around the town.
With regard to the access for traders to the Higher Bullring, the Cabinet Member was able to report that the design had been created so that the traders could drive onto and off of the area.
Consideration was given to:
· The traffic issues within the town to include any closure of the motorway
· The timing of the creation of the relief road
· Parking issues in the town and the impact of the scheme on shop keepers and pedestrians; 10 parking spaces would be removed to deliver quality space in the area
· Whether the responses from the second consultation should return to Cabinet for further consideration and how this would impact on the timescales for the scheme
· Presentations that had been received by the Town Council who were broadly supportive of the scheme and who had raised some points of discussion regarding detail that could be picked up during the Stage 2 consulation such as planting
· Air quality in the town and whether the scheme would improve those issues
· Officers agreed to consider further the space for ambulance parking near to Clark’s Court
i) The concept public realm enhancement design (developed as part of the High Street Heritage Action Zone project) for the Higher Bullring area of Cullompton, as set out in Appendix 3, be approved for public consultation;
ii) Delegated authority be given to the Director of Place (in consultation with the Portfolio holder for Planning and Economic Regeneration) to finalise the material and arrangements for public consultation;
iii) Approval is given to instruct Devon County Council to take forward the project through to implementation, to facilitate timely delivery of their design development work, informed by the concept design, and;
iv) Delegated authority is given to the Director of Place (in consultation with the Portfolio holder for Planning and Economic Regeneration) to work with Devon County Council to incorporate views resulting from public consultation (to relate to layout and design of street furniture such as benches, planters and cycle parking), where possible.
(Proposed by Cllr R J Chesterton and seconded by Cllr C R Slade)
Reason for the decision: there is a need for the scheme to be approved for a further public consultation process.
Note: *Report previously circulated copy attached to minutes.
Report author: Richard Marsh
Publication date: 23/05/2022
Date of decision: 17/05/2022
Decided at meeting: 17/05/2022 - Cabinet
Effective from: 25/05/2022