Thursday 7th December 2017

NEW PLANS PROPOSE AN EVEN MORE SUSTAINABLE FUTURE FOR SHERFORD

Today plans for the evolution of Sherford were unveiled, forming the basis for a Section 73 planning application that the Sherford Consortium – a partnership between Bovis Homes, Linden Homes and Taylor Wimpey – will submit in early 2018. The public, community groups, Local Authorities and media have been invited to attend consultation events, to learn why changes are now needed, talk to the team behind the planning and design of Devon’s newest town, and give their feedback.

The proposals have been shaped by a 12-month technical review and six-months of workshops, working with Local Authorities, planners and skilled professionals to establish a way forward for Sherford that respects the original vision, while making essential changes to embrace new technical and policy requirements, which will futureproof the town.

“The changes take a great vision and make it exceptional”, says James deHavilland, Planner and Designer for the Sherford Consortium. “After two years on site at Sherford and a year-long review phase, carefully considered changes are being proposed to make Sherford an even better place to live.

“Sustainability has always been one of the cornerstones of the vision for Sherford and the new masterplan is designed to make Sherford more sustainable than ever before. We have actively sought out ways to make Sherford a greener, healthier and more environmentally-friendly place than it was planned previously – and we are excited about the legacy we will create."

The key elements of what will be in the next S73 planning application are:

Masterplan evolution

The masterplan for Sherford has been updated, with the changes intended for future phases of the town, beyond Phase 1, where 600 homes are under construction now. The primary driver for evolving the masterplan is to include more effective solutions to deal with surface water. To enable this, a new sustainable drainage solution is proposed, which will see the layout of the town alter to bring spacious green ‘fingers’ of land up through the site, especially through residential areas, to act as natural drainage zones.

“The proposed revisions to the masterplan do not change the overall aims for Sherford. There has been a continued commitment to Sherford’s key principles as outlined in the original masterplan, which ensures the town is a unique and special place to live. The new masterplan has adhered to these principles and looked at ways to improve Sherford to help it become a successful and cohesive community”, says James deHavilland.

The Sherford Consortium will still deliver the same amount of new homes, schools, retail and community facilities within walkable neighbourhoods. The high quality of the new homes and facilities will remain unaffected. The amount of open green space will not change, but by incorporating it into the town, it will become far more accessible and beneficial for residents.

Sustainable drainage

Since planning consent was originally issued several years ago, the Government and Environment Agency has issued new guidance on managing flood risk and storm water. Government bodies and the construction industry alike have learned significantly more about climate change and the effects of significant storm events on the local environment, which has resulted in updates to best practice and design guidance. These new standards increase protection for potential climate change in years to come, which will help to protect Sherford and the surrounding communities in the future.

The technical review of Sherford looked in detail at the topography and geology of the land, which is steep in parts, presenting building and drainage challenges. The high reliance on underground storage for water, as was intended in the town’s original masterplan, is no longer viewed as the answer; these existing solutions to deal with surface water at Sherford are now insufficient and need improving. The Sherford Consortium has agreed that a high-quality sustainable drainage system is the best way to deal with water within Sherford’s landscape.

The new plans will see the introduction of significant green infrastructure surrounding the new homes, which includes ‘corridors’ of land that sit on the stream valleys that run through Sherford. Within these areas will be drainage basins. When the weather is dry, these shallow basins will be useable public spaces, including recreation areas. When the weather is exceptionally wet, the shallow basins can take excess water from the town, transforming into ponds – up to around 1m in depth – and wetlands that allow the water to drain away naturally. These new areas of land will serve a vital purpose: safely transporting and storing rainwater, cutting water pollution, reducing the amount of surface run-off, easing the pressure on drains, and significantly decreasing the threat of flooding.

Present and future occupants of the first phase of Sherford can be reassured that these homes lie in an area independently identified by the Environment Agency as facing the ‘lowest possible flood risk.’ The topography of this land is flatter, and drainage that meets Environment Agency standards has been successfully installed. This is absolutely a sufficient solution to storing and disposing of water in Phase 1.

Green infrastructure

There are multiple benefits that the new ‘blue green infrastructure’ – the pairing of water management and green infrastructure together – will bring. It not only provides an up-to-date drainage system, but the green land required for this means Sherford residents will gain an abundance of new useable outdoor spaces on their doorstep. The new layout will see double the amount of homes that look out on green space than had been in the original plans for Sherford.

The plans include three ‘fingers’ of green space weaving through the town, two of these corridors connect to the 200-hectare community park, making the park more accessible and linked to the town than it has been before. In addition, the green spaces will be multi-functional, with some set up as village greens or formal spaces, while other will be more natural, echoing the Devon landscape found locally. There are proven health and social benefits for residents overlooking, living next to and being able to access green space quickly and easily, which families at Sherford will gain from.

These green corridors of land will also expand the wildlife corridors already planned for Sherford, which allow wildlife to travel and create safe habitats. By widening these strips of land, it will create 'dark routes' where residential and street lighting will not infiltrate. And by adding a broader array of habitats, like wetlands, into the design, biodiversity will increase at Sherford, with numerous species of wildlife able to flourish.

Town layout

The plans propose that Sherford will have three distinct neighbourhoods, which will all be walkable and within easy reach of amenities and green space. The previous masterplan intended a more urban vision on the northern side of the town, but the new vision – with its three corridors of green infrastructure coming up through the town for sustainable drainage – will create three more defined residential neighbourhoods.

Each of the three neighbourhoods will have slightly different identities, for example the neighbourhood to the East, bordering the community park, will have a more rural village feel. At the heart of each neighbourhood will be a high street and local amenities, including a primary school. Sherford will still be a fully functional, integrated town, but will feel softer around the edges, less urban, and more connected to the countryside.

The amendments to the plans will also see Sherford keep mature countryside and traditional pieces of its Devon landscape, including hedgerows, Devon walls, and sections of country lanes, which the original masterplan had sought to remove. The new designs will see some of the original country lanes preserved and turned into cycle routes, connecting to the country park. Existing farms and farmland within Sherford have been better and more sympathetically integrated, too.

Some changes to parking in future phases of Sherford will be proposed in the planning application, to give residents more options regarding their personal transport. The Sherford Consortium has listened to feedback and will look to provide more choice in the future, including a combination of courtyards at the rear, as well as at the front and sides of properties. Where rear parking areas are reduced, it will enable larger gardens to be developed.

Next steps

Public consultation events have been held in the local community to exhibit the plans. From its inception through to today, Sherford has advanced through close consultation and collaboration with the local public, community leaders and skilled professionals – and the Sherford Consortium is keen that the next stage in the town’s development continues in this spirit.

Feedback to the public consultation ran until late December 2017. The deadline for submitting feedback has now passed, and the Sherford Consortium is reviewing all submissions and – where possible – will use the comments to shape the evolving plans. A response will be developed to the feedback and queries received, which will be shared publicly and published on the Sherford website ‘Planning’ page in February 2018.

Hear below from James deHavilland, Planner and Designer for the Sherford Consortium, about the new plans that have been proposed for an even more sustainable future for Sherford.