February 29, 2016
New 15-year growth plan for Highbridge is unveiled - have your say

Highbridge's Neighbourhood Planning group has published a new plan for the town over the next 15 years and is inviting residents to have their say.

Feedback is being encouraged on the vision for the town ahead of it being finalised later this year and then formally adopted.

The document outlines a number of recommendations for Highbridge, including a brand new hotel development, additional job opportunities and improved transport links.

The vision states: "By 2032 it is expected that Highbridge will have passed through a period of change which will have seen the construction of new housing both within the built-up area and on the periphery. It will also have seen the expansion of the Isleport business estate which will have brought significant employment opportunities to the local area."

"As a consequence of the new housing, the flood defences on the River Brue will have been improved, a new Primary school established on the Brue Farm development, and expansion of King Alfred’s school will have taken place."

"In addition, the physical linking of the Brue Farm development to Market Street, plus the investment of S106 money in that area, will have led to an improvement in the retail offer in this, the traditional town centre of Highbridge."

It goes on to say: "Off-street car parking will have been preserved in order to ensure the shops are adequately served. The improvements will have acted as a stimulus to the greening of the town and to a general improvement in the street scene. Important historical buildings in the town will continue to be protected."

"The YMCA development of the Highbridge Hotel will have provided much needed community facilities and will act as a focus at the important junction of Market Street and Church Street."

"At the other end of Market Street, the railway station will be an increasingly important link to Bristol, Taunton and further afield and, via good bus connections, with Burnham and the surrounding villages."

It concludes: "The investment into, and expansion of, Isleport Business Park will have increased the range and diversity of jobs available that are easily accessible to Highbridge and Burnham as well as surrounding villages. This will have encouraged local working, higher wage opportunities and reduced levels of commuting to other centres to the benefit of the local economy. In addition, the retention and expansion of small industrial/craft units within the town itself will have enabled businesses to thrive which cannot afford the higher costs of the peripheral industrial estates."

"The town’s role in supporting Burnham-On-Sea's tourism function will be more readily recognized through the development of green linkages to encourage walking and cycling between the towns and into the wider surrounds. Apex Park will remain the prime open space for the town but it will be augmented by new open space at Brue Farm and improved access to the Isleport ponds and the adjacent proposed public open space. In addition, the opportunity to create children’s play areas in new or existing housing developments will have been taken."

Changes for Highbridge recommended

The plan recommends a number of changes to Highbridge town centre.

"The land alongside the railway behind the Co-Op store in Southwell Crescent and extending to Grange Avenue could be designated an employment site. In the event of this not being possible, consideration should be given to the provision of car parking for Highbridge railway station."

On infrastructure, the plan recommends "a master plan should be drawn up to guide infrastructure and service provision during the plan period. Consideration should be given to providing for a new hotel, logically placed near the railway station."

"It is recommended that redevelopment proposals are drawn up which change Market St into a people focused town centre for Highbridge by giving pedestrians priority by appropriate traffic management measures and re-engineering of the road and pavements."

The plan goes on to recommend a "change to both the car park and Millennium Green to provide an improved public realm and improved short stay car parking e.g. by paving the Green to provide a piazza and hosting markets on the car park itself."

And the plan also recommends: "Consider whether the usage of the car park gives scope for landscaping it and building on part of it to fund the above improvements and possible other facilities such as a Health Centre, additions to the Community Hall, or further community uses of the Library."

Better transport and protecting green spaces

The plan adds: "Consideration should be given to expanding its parking area if this becomes necessary and to improving access. Integration of rail and bus services should be part of the District’s transport plan – as should improvement to bus services linking the station to the Isleport estates, Burnham, and surrounding villages and settlements."

The plan also seeks to protect green spaces in Highbridge. It recommends: "Proposals that would result in the reduction in recreational and amenity land in any of Highbridge’s open spaces will not be allowed. Replacement elsewhere will not be considered as an adequate reason for such developments to occur. Any buildings erected on open spaces will only be allowed if their use is ancillary to the use of the open space e.g. changing rooms, toilets, cafes."

"It is recommended that where opportunities arise in appropriate locations for the provision of toddlers’ play spaces as a result of redevelopment, these should form part of the approved plans."

On footpaths and cycle ways, the plan states: "We recommend that a comprehensive review should be undertaken of existing and proposed footpaths and cycleways with a view to improving their signposting and filling in any gaps in the network. The aim should be to achieve a comprehensive coverage of the wider Highbridge area and to improve routes across the A38, M5, railway and river – including links to neighbouring communities."

Reaction to the plan and how you can have your say

The Highbridge group's Chairman, Terry Dommett told "The group has been working to put forward a document for public consultation, that gives our ideas on what needs to be retained in the Highbridge area and what we would like to see happen in the future to improve the town for the benefit of its residents and businesses."

"It covers the future of housing, the shopping area, improvements to the railway station and its surrounds, protection of green spaces etc. Our town is growing, and will continue to grow. What facilities and infrastructure do we need to put into place as this growth happens?"

"The survey that has gone out to all residents of the Highbridge area contains our ideas. Is this the way forward for our town? Have we got it right? The survey that accompanies the consultation document will give us the feedback we need to answer these questions."

Phil Harvey, co-ordinator of the local Neighbourhood Planning group, added: "The Highbridge group has been working hard over the last few months and they would be delighted to have reaction to their draft ideas."

"A paper consultation document is being delivered to households in the area and the online version is available here and has more background detail and extra space for comments."

What do you think of the vision for Highbridge? is interested in your feedback - contact us here


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