September 24, 2015
Residents back new long-term vision for Burnham-On-Sea in survey

A long-term vision for Burnham-On-Sea that will see the town protecting its Victorian heritage while developing its modern shopping and leisure facilities has been welcomed by residents, according to the results of a survey.

Members of the Burnham and Highbridge area Neighbourhood Planning Group have carried out a survey on their draft plan for Burnham Town Centre, which includes a long-term vision for the town up to 2032.

The survey was sent out to 9,000 people during the summer and has the first full results, outlined in detailed below.

The long-term vision includes proposals to create a 'Civic Precinct' in Burnham's Princess Street where the Learning Centre and Library, right, would be linked by a new public space - potentially a town square - to create a northern focus to the town centre.

At the southern end of the town, it's proposed that the Pier Street and South Esplanade car park, as the entrance to the town for many visitors provides potential for mixed redevelopment while preserving parking facilities. The vision also includes 'enforced conservation area policies' for The Esplanade to improve the street scene.

Town councillor Phil Harvey, who is the co-ordinator of the Neighbourhood Planning Group, some of whom are pictured below, told "We have received over 500 responses to the survey, which is a good response rate of around six per cent. You'd usually expect a far lower two per cent response rate with these surveys."

"The survey figures [which are outlined in full below] show strong backing for the proposed town centre plans with over 70% support for all of the questions so it's pleasing that the ideas from the planning group are in line with residents thinking."

He outlined the next steps for the group as the work continues on the plan.

"Next year, the Neighbourhood Planning Group hopes to finalise the plan, which will include chapters on topics such as housing and Highbridge."

"It will be reviewed by The Planning Inspectorate before hopefully going out for a local referendum during 2017."


Do you think the following is a good vision for Burnham-On-Sea Town Centre?

Yes 80.54%
No 12.2%
Don't know 7.25%

By 2032, Burnham Town Centre will be central to all aspects of community life. A centre not just for retail, business and eating out but, in addition, for cultural and social, recreational and leisure pursuits.

It will recognise that there are an increasing number of town centre residents whose quality of life needs to be balanced with the town’s retail and leisure offer.

It will celebrate its Victorian heritage, preserving what is the best and building on this by redevelopments which are sympathetic to the scale and style of the existing built environment, whilst not hindering the establishment of a modern shopping and leisure experience. It will recognise that shopping habits have changed and that a successful centre needs the right mix of shops, restaurants, leisure and cultural facilities – all within an improved public realm. This mix creates the ambience of the area – charm, friendliness, character and accessibility.

By improving the experience of residents and visitors, the centre will have become a “destination” – a place worth visiting for the quality of the retail area and the walks along the Esplanade, which will be better linked to the retail area.

The Princess Theatre will be the hub of cultural life in the centre and, potentially, be part of a group of public buildings with the adjacent Learning Centre and Library linked by a new public space, thus creating a northern focus to the Town Centre – the 'Civic Precinct'.

At the southern end of town the Pier St./South Esplanade car park is the entrance to the town for many visitors. There is potential for redevelopment to provide a landmark building (while preserving car and coach parking).

The Esplanade will be attractive to residents and visitors, with enforced conservation area policies being a major factor in improving the street scene.

A town that balances being a “sea side town” with being a “town by the sea”.

Burnham-On-Sea Town Centre redevelopment: Do you think this is an appropriate policy?
Yes 86.07%
No 9.82%
Don't know 4.11%

Burnham Town Centre has changed remarkably little, with many 19th and early 20th century buildings remaining. The topic group felt it was important that, if any redevelopment did occur, it should be sympathetic to the existing buildings . Accordingly the following policy is proposed.

Policy BTC 2 - Redevelopment in the town centre area

Planning permission will be granted to proposals if they:
1. Reinforce the key characteristics and special qualities of the retail area.
2. Ensure that the scale, massing, height, fenestration and materials of buildings relate well to their context.
3. Retain rear access where it exists or, if possible, create a new one.
4. Do not adversely affect:
i. the amenity of occupiers of adjoining residential properties;
ii. the distinctive historical or architectural character of the area; and
5. Maintain or enhance existing building frontages in the conservation area.
6. Have due regard for important aspects of detail and quality and should incorporate:
i. secure and attractive layouts with safe and convenient access for the whole community, including disabled users;
ii. measures to create a safe environment for the community and reduce the potential for crime;
iii. use of appropriate building materials and techniques respecting local tradition and vernacular styles as well as, where possible, contributing to low embodied energy and CO2 reduction.

Possible Burnham-On-Sea redevelopment sites: Do you think the following recommendation is a good one?
Yes 65.76%
No 23.13%
Don't know 11.11%

The topic group identified three sites where redevelopment COULD occur in the plan period (up to 2032). The first of these is Pople’s Yard (down the alleyway next to Hurley's toy shop) where there is potential for some housing development of appropriate scale, provided it accords with policy BTC2. The group regards this as non-controversial so there isn’t a question on it!

The second site is the Pier Street car park. While there are no proposals for redevelopment at the present time, it is possible that some may arise in the future. Given the importance of the site, both to the built environment and the economy of the town centre, we think it is appropriate to outline some development principles to be taken into consideration. These are advisory only – what is technically known as “supplementary planning guidance”.

Any future development of this site should work to a comprehensive master plan and seek to achieve a gateway to the Town Centre which is attractive and welcoming. In doing so it should:

1. Preserve sufficient car and coach parking to support the town’s economy in the peak summer months, if necessary by means of a decked area.
2. Provide attractive frontage to South Esplanade/Pier St. as appropriate by development of mixed-use three storey buildings. The ground floor of these buildings could be used to support facilities such as indoor leisure, shops and restaurants while the upper stories provide residential units.
3. Enhance the public space around and within the site by appropriate paving, seating, planting and signage.

Princess Street and the 'Civic Precinct': Do you agree with these proposals for Princess Street?
Yes 73.21%
No 18.24%
Don't know 8.55%

The Learning Centre, in Princess Street, although not in the conservation area, is a building of historic significance – which began its life as an Infant School in 1915. At the moment, no redevelopment is proposed but, if it were, we think it should result in a building which is sympathetic to the Princess Theatre.

Whether or not there are any redevelopment proposals in the future, there exists potential for public realm improvement to create a “Civic Precinct” to act as a northern focus to the town centre area. The forecourt of the Learning Centre (or a replacement building) could be opened up to Princess Street to create an attractive square and Princess Street itself could be pedestrianised between the Centre and the Theatre, while retaining the vehicular accesses to either side of the Princess Theatre. As an alternative to full pedestrianisation of this section, the street could be made pedestrian friendly by wider pavements, a traffic table and a possible one-way traffic system.

Accordingly, it is recommend that:
1. If redevelopment of the Learning Centre occurs, it should result in a building which is sympathetic in design and scale to the Princess and should retain the forecourt area for the establishment of a Civic Precinct.
2. Whether or not redevelopment occurs, the appropriate bodies should work together to achieve a Civic Precinct in Princess Street to enhance the setting of the public buildings there and to provide a northern focus to the Town Centre.

Commercial premises and shop fronts: Would you welcome a policy as a way of preserving the town centre's character?
Yes 84.51%
No 10.8%
Don't know 4.69%

One of the more attractive features is the number of traditional shop fronts which make a significant contribution to the character of the area, whilst not preventing modern internal layouts. In order to prevent the centre becoming characterless and bland the following commercial premises and shop front policy is proposed.

Policy BTC 3 –Commercial premises and shop fronts in the town centre area

Proposals for changes to shop fronts or new shop fronts will be considered in accordance with the following criteria:
1. Traditional style shop fronts which have remained unaltered and are worthy of conservation should be retained.
2. Where traditional features such as stallrisers, columns, pilasters or cornices exist these should be retained and further alteration should seek to upgrade the shop front in a manner sympathetic to any of the existing traditional features.
3. All parts of a new shop front and fascia should be kept to ground storey level.
4. Shop fronts including signs and fascias should be designed to complement the character and individuality of the building in which they are set. Signs should advertise only the name and nature of the business and avoid advertising a range of branded products.
5. Materials used should be sensitive to the character and appearance of the building and surrounding properties. In the conservation area, only materials which are in keeping with the character or appearance of the area will be permitted.
6. Large expanses of undivided glass will not be permitted where they are alien to the character of the building in which they are set.
7. Where two or more adjoining buildings form part of the same premises they should be treated as individual shop fronts linked by a theme e.g. lettering and colour of paintwork.
8. Where features such as stallrisers, columns, pilasters or cornices make a significant contribution to the character of the immediate area or the individual building, new shop fronts should provide these features in order to maintain such character.
9. The upper storeys of commercial premises play an important role in the overall street scene. Proposals that enhance the appearance of the building will be supported. Traditional features listed at point two above must be renovated, replaced if lost or incorporated in new designs where appropriate to the character of the area. Design and materials used must be sensitive the surrounding properties.

Colour of building facades in Burnham-On-Sea: Do you think the following is useful guidance?
Yes 74.29%
No 15.71%
Don't know 10%

Should we try to achieve any coherence in the colours of buildings in the town centre area? The topic group thought long and hard about this and decided it was something on which we should seek people’s opinion.

It is acknowledged that the colour treatment of the Esplanade, which largely consists of residential properties of a similar age, should differ from that of the commercial centre of the town where properties show a greater variety of style and shops, in particular, may have corporate images. Nevertheless, as most of these properties are restricted to ground floor premises, it is not inappropriate to make some comment about any painted/stuccoed sections of the first floor and the ground floor (where they exist).

The following guidance note is proposed. "Although a variety of colours can add to the attractiveness of the area, it is also true that a choice of garish ones can distract from this. The sensitive use of colour offers enormous scope for improving the street scene but the choice of colour scheme must take account of the building and its setting. Corporate colour schemes may be attractive in isolation but can be inappropriate in the wider street scene. Minor variations in a retailer’s corporate colours may be desirable. As the majority of the buildings in the Town Centre are constructed of matt finished, non-reflective materials there is a general presumption, especially in the conservation area and listed buildings, against using plastics, and acrylic sheets. Accordingly landlords are encouraged to consider carefully their colour schemes when redecorating and to avoid ones which would clash with the surrounding premises and/or be too prominent in the street scene. In general this predisposes towards a range of pastel shades. This is especially true on the Esplanade where a previous grant-aided re-decoration scheme has produced the fairly homogeneous colour palette we see today."


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