The site is adjacent to the riverside foot and cycle path at the eastern end of the commercial area in Blackswarth Road. It is located in the Avon Valley Conservation Area. It is generally rather rundown at present. The access to Blackswarth Road is close to a blind corner and the road itself is narrow and, at times, fairly busy.
Woodstock Homes are proposing a development comprising 85 one- and two-bedroom apartments in five largely orthogonal blocks ranging in height from four to six storeys. They are situated immediately adjacent to the foot and cycle path. Landscaped strips would separate the blocks and further landscaping is indicated on the northern and western peripheries. 60+ parking spaces would be provided to the north of the flats.
The Society would welcome the redevelopment of this rundown site but feels strongly that a more policy compliant residential led, mixed use development would be preferable to the wholly residential proposal. If the Council considers a residential development acceptable, the Society considers that a higher design standard with more visual interest is required to enable this prominent site to enhance the Conservation Area. A lower rise development, including accommodation suitable for families and sufficient affordable housing should be considered.
Whether the site is developed for employment or residential use, the public realm needs to be of a high standard and to reflect the wooded character of the Conservation Area at this point. Particular attention must be paid to the boundary with the riverside foot and cycle path where currently there is an unsightly wall, which rises above eye level because of the level difference. This is an unpleasant feature at present and the opportunity must be taken to create a pleasant and safe experience for pedestrians and cyclists.
A safe access to and from Blackswarth Road is required and the Society urges the developer to minimise car parking provision and encourage active travel, particularly cycling.