SA Addendum Scoping Report

3 Characteristics of areas likely to be affected

Characteristics of areas likely to be affected

3.1       Baseline information provides the basis for predicting and monitoring the likely sustainability effects of a plan and helps to identify key sustainability issues and means of dealing with them.

3.2       Annex 1 of the SEA Directive requires information to be provided on:

(a) the relevant aspects of the current state of the environment and the likely evolution thereof without implementation of the plan;

(b) the environmental characteristics of areas likely to be significantly affected;

(c) any existing environmental problems which are relevant to the plan including, in particular, those relating to any areas of a particular environmental importance, such as areas designated pursuant to Directives 79/409/EEC [the"Birds Directive"] and 92/43/EEC [the "Habitats Directive"].    

 

3.3       The SA Report[1] that accompanied the Pre-Submission Core Strategy described the broad environmental, economic and social character of the Core Strategy area, the sustainability issues arising and their likely evolution without the Core Strategy. This Scoping Report focuses on the characteristics of the areas most likely to be affected by the reasonable alternatives under consideration for the SA Addendum, being the urban fringe areas of the towns of:

  • Northampton
  • Daventry
  • Brackley
  • Towcester

3.4         The settlement pattern of West Northamptonshire is dominated by Northampton, serving as a very large County Town of Regional importance. Daventry, Brackley and Towcester provide a network of smaller towns located along the main A45 and A43 access routes. Daventry is considered a Market Town of Sub-Regional importance, while Brackley and Towcester serve as Rural Service Centres[2] .

3.5         Existing information collected by the Councils and other organisations has been utilised where possible. The West Northamptonshire Joint Planning Unit also provided LUC with digital data for a number of geographical features (e.g. urban areas, flood risk zones, nature conservation and cultural heritage designations etc.), which are presented on a series of maps for each of the four towns, see Figures A1 to A16 in Appendix 1. The information summarised and data sources referred to in this chapter as well as the spatial data will be used to inform the appraisal work undertaken as part of the SA Addendum.

1. West Northamptonshire Joint Core Strategy Sustainability Appraisal Report, Environ, February 2011. [back]
2. Annual Monitoring Report 2011-2012, West Northamptonshire Joint Planning Unit, 2012 (Pg 31.) [back]


Northampton

3.6       Northampton is the County town and main centre for employment, housing, retail, leisure and services in Northamptonshire. Its population of over 210,000 is predicted to increase by over 50,000 people between 2006 and 2026[3] , based on 2008 ONS projections.

3.7       Around 60% of Northampton residents work within 5km of their home, showing the high proportion of people who both live and work within the Borough[4] . Movement in and surrounding Northampton is predominately undertaken by car. The decentralisation of key destinations, such as retail, employment and leisure has resulted in fewer trips to the town centre.

3.8       A number of large multi-national companies and the University of Northampton are major employers. Northampton General Hospital provides specialist healthcare for Northamptonshire, north Buckinghamshire and north Bedfordshire.

3.9       Northampton saw a 1.05% reduction in employment between 2008 and 2011[5] . Job losses in manufacturing in the town have been compensated by an increase in office and service jobs, where growth has mainly been in the financial services, public administration, education and health sectors.

3.10       Northampton has consistently shown above average numbers of people with no qualifications and below average numbers with qualifications at NVQ Level 2 and above. In recent years, however, there has been an increase in those holding NVQ Level 4 qualifications which may reflect the increased profile of the University benefitting the economy and labour force[6] .

3.11       Compared to the rest of the County, Northampton continues to record above average levels of crime in the key offences, such as burglary, car crime and anti-social behaviour, suggesting pockets of deprivation[7] .

3.12       Northampton has a higher proportion of terraced houses and flats, a higher proportion of social rented housing and more single person households than other towns within West Northamptonshire. There is a higher proportion of young residents but also a higher incidence of social inequality.

3.13       Northampton has a rich variety of natural and built environmental assets: parkland and open spaces of recreational and biodiversity value, such as the valley of the River Nene; important areas of woodland; rural landscapes; and sites of historical importance. Designated environmental assets are shown in Table 3.1 and Table 3.2 below.

Table 3.1 Northampton District’s Designated Natural Environment Assets[8]

 

Designation

 

Number

 

Area (hectares)

 

Special Protection Areas / Ramsar Sites

 

1

 

113

 

National Nature Reserves

 

0

 

0

 

Sites of Special Scientific Interest

 

1

 

113

 

Local Nature Reserves

 

6

 

99

 

Local Wildlife Sites

 

54

 

442

 

Regionally Important Geological Sites

 

8

 

Unknown

 

Table 3.2 Northampton District’s Designated Heritage Assets[9]

 

Designation

 

Number

 

Conservation Areas

 

21

 

Listed Buildings

 

438

 

Scheduled Ancient Monuments

 

8

 

Historic Parks and Gardens

 

0

 

Historic Battlefields

 

1

 

3.14       There are a number of potential constraints to development around Northampton in parts of the south east, south, south west, north west and east as shown in Figures A1 to A4 in Appendix 1. Northampton is surrounded by large tracts of high quality (Grade 2 and 3) agricultural land to the west, south east and north of Northampton and large areas of land identified in the Northamptonshire Draft Minerals and Waste Local Plan (January 2013) as Minerals Safeguarding Areas for sand and gravel extraction, particularly along the floodplain of the River Nene.

3.15       The flood risk areas (Flood Zones 2 and 3) are associated with the River Nene, which flows through the centre of the town, and its tributaries. The River Nene is also subject to international, national and local nature designations, including Special Protection Area (SPA) and Ramsar sites, Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs), Local Nature Reserves and Local Wildlife Sites. In combination, these natural assets have the potential to constrain development to the south east towards Little Houghton and Great Houghton. The land around Little Houghton and Great Houghton, particularly to the south, is less restricted by environmental and heritage designations.

3.16       In addition to the nature conservation interests and potential flood risk zones within the River Nene corridor, both the River Nene corridor and areas around Hardingstone, Great Houghton and Little Houghton are classified as being of high combined sensitivity (i.e. a combination of landscape, biodiversity, and heritage) in the Northampton Landscape Sensitivity and Green Infrastructure Study[10] . This study identifies landscapes and designated sites in and around Northampton and ascribed them a level of sensitivity (high, medium or low) to large scale residential/ mixed use development. The sensitivity review included four topics: biodiversity sensitivity; cultural heritage sensitivity, landscape and visual sensitivity and flood zones & minerals sensitivity. The tributaries of the Nene extend south of Wootton, running parallel with the motorway (M1) with the area between the tributary and the motorway being classified in the Northampton Landscape Sensitivity and Green Infrastructure Study as being of low combined sensitivity. Land to the south of the motorway, towards Milton Malsor and Rothersthorpe, is rural in character and classified as being of medium combined sensitivity.

3.17       Beyond the existing urban boundary for Northampton to the east and north east, there are a number of clusters of listed buildings in the villages of Ecton, Earls Barton and Overstone. These settlements are very close to merging with Northampton. However, the presence of Ecton Brook linear park prevents ribbon development along the A4500 and further north a golf course, scheduled ancient monument and a large expanse of woodland present constraints to development near Overstone.

3.18       The land immediately north of Moulton, along the A43 and south of Pitsford Water SSSI has good access routes and is largely free from cultural and nature designations, as is the land between Boughton and Moulton, with most being classified as being of medium combined sensitivity in the Northampton Landscape Sensitivity and Green Infrastructure Study. Boughton Park, which is a Registered Park and Garden and Conservation Area, may constrain development to the north and west of Boughton.

3.19       The raised land between New Duston to the west of Northampton and Kings Heath and Kingsthorpe within the urban boundary is largely unconstrained by environmental and cultural designations but does have constraints around the outside. Dallington Heath, a large Local Wildlife Site, lies to the north of Duston, while the due west of Kingsthorpe is the railway line and floodplain (Flood Zones 3 and 2) of a tributary of the River Nene, some of which is protected as Kingsthorpe Local Nature Reserve. Upton is designated as a Conservation Area.

3.20       There are more Local Nature Reserves and Wildlife Sites scattered throughout the northern half of Northampton. Situated within the urban environment, they are valuable open spaces and act as green corridors to the River Nene in the south. The River Nene and its tributaries are also associated with safeguarded sand and gravel reserves, with further reserves found elsewhere around Northampton, particularly north of Moulton and to the west, south and east of Wootton, acting as a potential constraint to development.

3.21       Northampton has seven Air Quality Management Areas (AQMAs) as a result of traffic related pollution, six within the urban area and one between junctions 15 and 15a of the M1.

3. Population. Households and Labour Force Technical Paper, West Northamptonshire Joint Planning Unit, 2011 (section 3.10) [back]
4. Annual Monitoring Report 2011-2012, West Northamptonshire Joint Planning Unit, 2012 (Pg 48.) [back]
5. Annual Monitoring Report 2011-2012, West Northamptonshire Joint Planning Unit, 2012 (Pg 36.) [back]
6. Annual Monitoring Report 2011-2012, West Northamptonshire Joint Planning Unit, 2012 (Pg 41.) [back]
7. Annual Monitoring Report 2011-2012, West Northamptonshire Joint Planning Unit, 2012 (Pg 49.) [back]
8. Annual Monitoring Report 2011-2012, West Northamptonshire Joint Planning Unit, 2012 (Pg 56.) [back]
9. Annual Monitoring Report 2011-2012, West Northamptonshire Joint Planning Unit, 2012 (Pg 56.) [back]
10. Northampton Landscape Sensitivity and Green Infrastructure Study, prepared by Living Landscapes Consultancy Ltd, on behalf of the River Nene Regional Park CIC, Feb 2009. [back]

Daventry

3.22       Daventry was a small market town until the 1960s when it was identified as a location for overspill development from Birmingham. In the last 60 years its population has grown from about 4,000 in 1950 to around 25,000. The population of the District of Daventry is projected to rise by some 11,000 people between 2010 and 2026, based on 2008-based ONS projections[11] . There are long term aspirations to grow the town to a population of 40,000.

3.23       Daventry's secondary and tertiary education facilities are not sufficient to meet its needs so students are transported elsewhere. The District has a high percentage of people with no qualifications (18%), 8% higher than the National average, and is below the National average in attaining 5+ GCSEs at A-G Grade[12] . Despite a 9% increase in crime in Daventry between 2010 and 2012, Daventry remains below the England and Wales average for offences per 1,000 people[13] .

3.24       Daventry's planned expansion in the 1960s and 1970s has given rise to a relatively compact town with a relatively high capacity road network for cars and public transport. Although, public transport usage is very low resulting in unsustainable travel habits.

3.25       The regeneration and revitalisation of Daventry is the principal goal of the town's masterplan. Abbey Retail Park (located off South Way) was completed in 2009 as the first phase of regeneration plans for the town centre. The redevelopment of a site north of High Street will provide a replacement library, shops, offices, hotel, bars, restaurants, health and fitness gym and residential space. Daventry's Waterspace proposals present an ambitious mixed use project including residential, office and leisure uses. High quality public spaces and buildings will be set around water basins which will be used for short and long term canal boat moorings and connected to the Grand Union Canal to the north.

3.26       The urban area surrounding the town is largely of modern mid-20th century housing development. The residential estate of Southbrook immediately to the west of Borough Hill has been identified by Northamptonshire County Council for neighbourhood regeneration.

3.27       Currently, there is little office floorspace in the town centre. Daventry saw a 9.61% reduction employment levels between 2008 and 2010[14] . Daventry town's employment space is dominated by industrial and warehouse floorspace in a small number of large industrial/ commercial estates to the north-west and south-east of the town in need of investment and renewal.

3.28       There are a number of potential constraints to development around the edge of Daventry as illustrated in Figures A5 to A8 in Appendix 1. Table 3.3 and Table 3.4 also list the number of designated environmental assets for the District as a whole.

Table 3.3 Daventry District’s Designated Natural Environment Assets[15]

 

Designation

 

Number

 

Area (hectares)

 

Sites of Special Scientific Interest

 

13

 

533

 

Local Nature Reserves

 

2

 

76

 

Local Wildlife Sites

 

191

 

1567

 

Regionally Important Geological Sites

 

12

 

Unknown

 

Table 3.4 Daventry District’s Designated Heritage Assets[16]

 

Designation

 

Number

 

Conservation Areas

 

25

 

Listed Buildings

 

1,514

 

Scheduled Ancient Monuments

 

48

 

Historic Parks and Gardens

 

11

 

Historic Battlefields

 

1

 

3.29       Topographically, Daventry is generally contained within a natural landscape 'bowl' with land rising to the south-east, south, west and north of the town. The main strategic green spaces are Daventry County Park to the east of the urban area and the Northern Valley Park to the north. Daventry town retains its historic core, which benefits from Conservation Area designation and includes many listed buildings. There are also important historical and archaeological sites all around Daventry including historic outlying villages. At the eastern edge of Daventry's urban area lie Borough Hill Scheduled Ancient Monument, and Burnt Walls Scheduled Ancient Monument, which offer additional areas of accessible green space and contribute positively to the town's identity.

3.30       Daventry is surrounded by Grade 3 agricultural land with pockets of Grade 2 agricultural land. There are large areas of land designated as Mineral Safeguarding Areas for sand and gravel extraction to the west and south east, although these do not abut the town. To the east, Borough Hill, a Scheduled Ancient Monument stands as an impermeable physical barrier to further development. Much of the Hill is also a Local Wildlife Site and surrounded by a large ribbon of Grade 2 agricultural land.

3.31       Due south, a combination of inaccessible gradients, archaeological assets and publicly accessible greenspace present constraints to development. To the south west of the town is a cluster of Local Wildlife Sites which constrain development between Daventry and the village of Staverton. With the exception of a number of inaccessible gradients North of Staverton, there are relatively few constraints to further development due west of Daventry with the exception of landscape sensitivity.

3.32       Further development to the north may be difficult due to the location of the Country Park, the Grand Union Canal and a number of inaccessible gradients. There are fewer constraints along the A45, which leads north west out of the town and provides good access to the centre.

3.33       The Green Infrastructure and Landscape Technical Report[17] found that there are no areas of low sensitivity around Daventry, with all areas classified as being either high or medium sensitivity. High sensitivity areas were identified as being:

  • To the north-west, the Grand Union Canal, the slopes towards the Leam Valley, and the small valley to the south east of Braunston.
  • To the north east, areas associated with Daventry Reservoir and Daventry Country Park, and the corridor of the Grand Union Canal, plus the rising slopes on the north western side of Borough Hill.
  • To the south east, areas around Borough Hill including its setting, the historic core of Newnham and the villages of Dodford and Norton and their settings, and the protected minerals site of Dodford.
  • To the south west and the west, the broadleaved woodlands that extend across Big Hill, the Conservation Areas of Staverton and Newnham, the slopes that fall towards the Leam Valley and between Big Hill, to Fix Hill and Newnham Hill.
11. Population. Households and Labour Force Technical Paper, West Northamptonshire Joint Planning Unit, 2011 (section 3) [back]
12. Annual Monitoring Report 2011-2012, West Northamptonshire Joint Planning Unit, 2012 (Pg 41.) [back]
13. Annual Monitoring Report 2011-2012, West Northamptonshire Joint Planning Unit, 2012 (Pg 49.) [back]
14. Annual Monitoring Report 2011-2012, West Northamptonshire Joint Planning Unit, 2012 (Pg 37.) [back]
15. Annual Monitoring Report 2011-2012, West Northamptonshire Joint Planning Unit, 2012 (Pg 56.) [back]
16. Annual Monitoring Report 2011-2012, West Northamptonshire Joint Planning Unit, 2012 (Pg 56.) [back]
17. Daventry Infrastructure Studies, Green Infrastructure and Landscape Technical Report, URS and LDA Design, January 2009 [back]

 Brackley and Towcester

3.34       Much of the contextual and baseline data useful for describing both Brackley and Towcester are expressed at the District level (i.e. for the whole of South Northamptonshire rather than each town). South Northamptonshire's population is expected to grow by some 19,400 between 2008 and 2026, based on 2008 ONS projections[18] .

3.35       The south of the County saw a 3.25% reduction in employment between 2008 and 2011[19] . South Northamptonshire performs very well in terms of qualification attainment against the National average, which provides a potential advantage in attracting and retaining highly skilled employment opportunities in the future. Crime in the area remains well below the England and Wales average for offences per 1,000 people, making it one of the safest places in the Country.

3.36       The designated environmental assets for South Northamptonshire are summarised in Table 3.5 and Table 3.6.

Table 3.5 South Northamptonshire District’s Designated Natural Environment Assets[20]

 

Designation

 

Number

 

Area (hectares)

 

National Nature Reserves

 

1

 

45

 

Sites of Special Scientific Interest

 

49

 

1015

 

Local Nature Reserves

 

3

 

8

 

Local Wildlife Sites

 

170

 

2,397

 

Regionally Important Geological Sites

 

9

 

Unknown

 

Table 3.6: South Northamptonshire District’s Designated Heritage Assets[21]

 

Designation

 

Number

 

Conservation Areas

 

53

 

Listed Buildings

 

1828

 

Schedule Ancient Monuments

 

35

 

Historic Parks and Gardens

 

7

 

 

18. Population. Households and Labour Force Technical Paper, West Northamptonshire Joint Planning Unit, 2011 (section 3) [back]
19. Annual Monitoring Report 2011-2012, West Northamptonshire Joint Planning Unit, 2012 (Pg. 36.) [back]
20. Annual Monitoring Report 2011-2012, West Northamptonshire Joint Planning Unit, 2012 (Pg 56.) [back]
21. Annual Monitoring Report 2011-2012, West Northamptonshire Joint Planning Unit, 2012 (Pg 56.) [back]

Brackley

3.37       The historic market town of Brackley is located at the southern tip of Northamptonshire. It is a Rural Service Centre for its 13,000 population and wider rural catchment of 10,000. The environmental and heritage constraints on the development of the town are illustrated in Figures A9 to A12 in Appendix 1.

3.38       Brackley has an old core surrounded by successive layers of growth including significant peripheral greenfield development. Much of the building in the town centre is constructed in stone and is typically two and three storey. There was no extensive Victorian or early 20th Century development, therefore there is little outdated building stock appropriate for redevelopment[22] . Significant development over the last 20 years has resulted in large areas of housing to the north and north-west of the town centre, where the strategic road layout has not constrained expansion of the town. Whilst this development has added to the range of housing choice, some neighbourhoods are disconnected from the town centre and have failed to reflect the character and quality of Brackley's historic built environment.

3.39       Housing growth has not been matched by employment growth, which, coupled with the town's excellent road links (A43, A5, M1 and M40) and nearby railway stations to the urban centres of Northampton, Banbury, Bicester, Oxford and Milton Keynes, has strengthened its reputation as a commuter town with 70% out-commuting.

3.40       The limited range and quality of retailing in the town centre and large number of vacant shops is inhibiting its ability to function as a Rural Service Centre. Brackley offers a range of employment facilities ranging from smaller town centre sites in Burgess Square to the larger industrial estates located around the town. It is home to leading motorsport companies such as Mercedes GP Petronas. The industrial estate on Buckingham Road accommodates a series of larger businesses; however, many of the premises are outdated and would benefit from remodelling and improvement[23] .

3.41       Brackley contains almost 100 listed buildings and structures including four Grade II* listed buildings, including the town hall, and one Grade I Listed building, the Church of St Peter. Many of these listed buildings are grouped around Market Place, High Street and the Old Town. The majority of this area is designated as a Conservation Area[24] .

3.42       Development may be constrained towards the southern, western and eastern boundaries of Brackley, due to the presence of the river channel and flood plain (Flood Zones 2 and 3) of the River Great Ouse and the main road (A422) that run into the town. The river runs into the town from the west where its banks are designated as a number of small Local Wildlife Sites and some ancient woodland. Brackley Motte and Bailey Castle sits on the banks of the river on the southern boundary of the town and overlooks the settlements of Evenley to the south and Hinton-in-the-Hedges to the west, which contain a number of listed buildings. The castle is registered as a scheduled ancient monument.

3.43       The area towards the north west of the town is largely unconstrained by designations. However, access to the north west of the town is comparatively poor when compared to the south and east. The north includes Minerals Safeguarding Area for sand and gravel and a disused railway designated as a SSSI. All the land around Brackley is classified as Grade 3 agricultural land.

3.44       The Brackley Landscape Sensitivity and Green Infrastructure Study[25] states that the core area is considered to be of high/medium-high sensitivity although there are some areas outside Brackley which are of medium and low sensitivity, such as Brackley Fields to the north. The landscape setting of the town is important and includes the following areas of high landscape sensitivity, which are also noted in the Brackley Masterplan:

  • The Old Glebe to the north.
  • The Great Ouse area to the east.
  • The historic parkland landscapes at Evenley and Steane Park.

 

22. Brackley and Towcester Urban Potential Study (2005) (Section 9.1) [back]
23. Brackley Masterplan, 2011 (Section 307) [back]
24. Brackley Masterplan, 2011 (Section 318) [back]
25. Brackley Landscape Sensitivity and Green Infrastructure Study, Quartet Design, June 2009 [back]

Towcester

3.45       Towcester is a small historic market town with Roman origins. Its population of 8,000 has experienced significant growth over the last 30 years with housing being delivered to the west and south of the town centre. Despite significant development, the centre retains its market town character with small independently owned specialist shops, together with the larger retail foodstores, many of which are covered by conservation area and listed building designations.

3.46       Towcester is a Rural Service Centre for a rural catchment of a further 10,000 people and as such is a focus for housing and employment growth for South Northamptonshire. 45% of properties in the area are detached houses. Flats account for the lowest percentage of the housing stock, at only 5.4%. Socially rented accommodation represents 11% of the total rented accommodation[26] .

3.47       Towcester has a highly educated population, with nearly 24% of residents educated to degree level compared to 16% for the county. The town has a young population with an average age of 39; however, there is a general trend of aging. Towcester residents have better health than residents elsewhere, despite obesity being a significant health issue in the town.

3.48       The Towcester Masterplan states that continued growth will increase strain on health services and facilities, increasing the need for better links to the larger hospitals in Northampton, Kettering and Milton Keynes. Similarly, the town's sewage treatment, waste and recycling capacity will need to be expanded, or an additional facility constructed to accommodate population growth[27] .

3.49       The environmental assets and potential constraints on the development of the town are illustrated in Figures A13 to A16 in Appendix 1. The town centre contains many attractive listed buildings and is almost entirely located within a conservation area. Towcester Racecourse lies within the registered Historic Parkland to the south east of Towcester and is an important site for recreation and tourism. The town has good accessibility and connectivity via the A5 and A43 which at times can be congested, creating a poor environment. Watling Street is an Air Quality Management Area[28] .

3.50       Over the last 30 years, the town has experienced significant housing growth to the north-east, west and south of the centre. Its shape reflects constraints such as the floodplain and boundaries of the Historic Park and Garden at Easton Neston, which have caused development to the east of the A5 to be limited. Consequently, the centre is close to the town's eastern edge[29] .

3.51       There are large Minerals Safeguarding Areas for sand and gravel to the north, south and west of the town. All the land around Towcester is designated as Grade 3 agricultural land. The land directly south of the town and towards the south east is largely agricultural land with few environmental and heritage constraints and has good access routes from the A43 and A5.

3.52       Development to the north east of Towcester may be constrained by the Conservation Areas at Hulcote, Easton Neston and Towcester town centre, and Registered Park and Garden of Easton Neston, which retains a lot of the historic landscape components of the original estate, including significant pockets of woodland and registered ridge and furrow land. The flood plain of the River Tove and the close proximity of Towcester Racecourse further restrict development in this area.

3.53       The northern boundary of the town sits within the floodplain of the River Tove, which is designated as Flood Zones 2 and 3. The River Tove floodplain extends to the west of Towcester (south of Greens Norton) and east of Towcester (between Easton Neston and Towcester Racecourse). South of Greens Norton there are a couple of wildlife sites along part of the disused Stratford-on-Avon and Midland Junction Railway. The remainder of the area between Greens Norton and Towcester is largely undesignated land with good access to the centre of Towcester via the A43.

3.54       The Towcester Landscape Sensitivity and Green Infrastructure Study[30] identifies the following areas as being of high or medium-high sensitivity:

  • The landscape and cultural heritage of the area around Easton Neston.
  • The landscape and biodiversity of the Caldecote area.

3.55       Other areas, such as Porterswood, Swinneyford, and Greens Norton are identified as being of low or medium sensitivity in the Towcester Landscape Sensitivity and Green Infrastructure Study.

26. Towcester Masterplan, 2011 (Section 8) [back]
27. Towcester Masterplan, 2011 (Section 13.02) [back]
28. Towcester Masterplan, 2011 (Section 7) [back]
29. Towcester Masterplan, 2011 (Section 2.06) [back]
30. Towcester Landscape Sensitivity and Green Infrastructure Study. Quartet Design, June 2009 [back]