Author Topic: Have your say on Diglis Playing Fields & Cherry Orchard Nature Reserve plans  (Read 5421 times)

KeithM

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Thank you Jerry and Lynn for your replies, I can't make it this Saturday, but will go to the Cafe Afloat in June. Once again thanks very much.

WildlifeRanger

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Hello all,

A reminder that the last Diglis Consultation "Roadshow" event takes place this Saturday 7th June at Cafe Afloat in Diglis Basin from 10:00 til 14:00.

We look forward to seeing you there,

regards,

Heather Bainbridge
Assistant Ranger, Worcester City Council

KeithM

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Thanks Heather, I will be there, hope the rain stops before then! Keith

Sam

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Is the consultation period over with now? If so how long before we get to see the final results?

Admin

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Report to: Cabinet, 9th December
Report of: Cabinet Member for Cleaner and Greener City
________________________________________________________________________
Subject: DIGLIS PUBLIC REALM PROJECT ? KEY DECISION

1. Purpose of Report

1.1 That Cabinet note the progress made to date.

1.2 That Cabinet endorse the proposals within this report as the agreed project.

1.3 That Cabinet ask Officers to renegotiate s106 agreements where necessary.

2. Background

2.1 The Diglis area is an historic part of the City, that is becoming increasingly important
due to recent and future residential development, and the enhancement and
promotion of the linear riverside park as an amenity and as a green transport link.

2.2 Cabinet received a report in April 2014 which noted that the City Council has entered
into five s106 agreements relating to developments in the Diglis area.

2.3 The report detailed the results of public consultation, based on a number of concept
drawings and options from which officers had prepared a concept drawing which was
approved by Cabinet in the April report and is reproduced at Appendix 1. This
consultation changes the focus of the original s106 agreements.

2.4 These agreements provide for funding of up to ?912k for improvements to the public
realm. Some of this funding has been spent on design and construction and
approximately ?781k remains.

2.5 Cabinet approved that the following work would be undertaken to progress this
project;

1. Establishment of parking opportunities.

2. Production of detailed final proposals and cost estimates for the outline proposals.

3. Development of a project plan to address phasing of works. This will ensure that
works:

a) are affordable and give best value

b) fit with the phasing and receipt of payments

c) deliver benefits at the earliest opportunity

d) ensure that improvements are carried out in a logical and coherent order to
ensure best value.

2.6 Further work has been undertaken during the summer and autumn of 2014 and is
outlined in section 3 of this report.
Page 5

3. Progress

3.1 Given the degree of public interest and feedback following the publication of the
Cabinet report officers carried out further consultation during the summer of 2014
seeking views on the concept drawing. The feedback overwhelmingly supported the
proposals. The results of this consultation are produced at Appendix 2

3.2 The consultation feedback produced 149 responses, which gave strong support for
the proposals outlined in the April Cabinet report. The single exception is the
proposals for parking which received less support, with respondents suggesting that
the industrial estate owned by the Canal and River Trust would be the ideal location
for parking.

3.3 Officers have continued to develop the original proposals in the light of consultation
feedback and have defined 11 sub projects within the overall programme which will
deliver the vision outlined in the concept drawing at Appendix 1. The 11 projects, in
no particular order, are outlined below;

3.4 Project 1. Visitor Parking Opportunities

3.4.1 Further discussions with local residents and Councillors following the publication of
the cabinet report highlighted that parking provision remains a major concern.
Opportunities for creation of parking spaces are present along Diglis Lane and
Waverley Street, as outlined in the April report. Spaces could be created as parallel
parking spaces, or a small car park could be created on the site of the old children?s
play area, and in the Cherry Orchard skip site / car parking area.

3.4.2 However, the total number available may not be sufficient to future proof against
visitor parking needs in the area, with the potential for additional residential
development in the short to medium term. Officers have renewed negotiations with
neighbouring land owners and the Highways authority, and are pursuing two
additional options;

1. Provision of parking on land owned by the City Council at Trow Way, subject to
negotiating necessary easements across private land.

2. Providing a car park on third party owned land in the Diglis industrial area.

3.4.3 Positive discussions have been held with the Canal and River Trust and the County
Council as Highway Authority, but further work is required. It is possible that this
work cannot be funded through s106 monies but this is being explored further.

3.5 Project 2. Riverside Link

3.5.1 The City Council and other partners have invested substantially in developing the
linear riverside park and walking and cycling routes which are now a significant
leisure facility and visitor attraction enjoyed by hundreds of thousands of people
each year. The link between the Diglis Bridge which alights in the North West of the
Cherry Orchard Nature Reserve, and the newly developed River Basin area is
conspicuous as an ?unfinished? link that contrasts with the rest of the riverside
areas.

The majority of the riverside areas are on land owned by the charitable Canal and
River Trust (CRT). Officers have worked with colleagues at CRT and Worcestershire
County Council and reached an agreement in principle to implement the scheme
shown at Appendix 3, and establish on-going maintenance responsibilities.

3.5.2 The proposed scheme will see the removal of two derelict garages, and the opening
up of the river bank to provide seating areas and views of the River Severn, of
Worcester Cathedral to the North, and of the Diglis Lock Island to the West.
3.5.3 Worcestershire Highways have agreed to provide physical traffic restrictions to the
riverside route, and lighting will complete a lit route from Worcester Bridge to Diglis
Bridge and across to Lower Wick.

3.6 Project 3. Diglis Bridge / Cherry Orchard

3.6.1 The North Western section of the Cherry Orchard Nature Reserve meets the landing
point of the Diglis Bridge, with connecting pathways going north along the River
Severn and east to Diglis Fields. This low lying area is currently managed as natural
scrub land, and can appear unkempt and unwelcoming at certain times of the year.
An appropriate annual maintenance plan will be developed and maintenance
responsibilities agreed to ensure that sight lines are maintained and a welcoming
environment is sustained.

3.7 Project 4. Children?s play areas.

3.7.1 An interim play area is currently in place pending detailed design of enhanced
facilities that will include an equipped play area and less structured ?natural play?
opportunities in other areas within the playing fields. The terms of the s106
agreement require completion before July 2015.

3.8. Project 5. Diglis Fields Planting and soft landscaping.

3.8.1 An amended mowing plan has been put in place that increases areas of longer grass
and wild flowers, adding interest to what has been a large expanse of closely mown
grass. Additional planting that will maintain and frame the long distance views of the
Cathedral with suitable trees.

3.9 Project 6. Diglis Fields footpaths, entrances, boundary fencing and hard landscaping.

3.9.1 New boundary fencing running along the length of the Eastern boundary of the fields
will transform the visual appeal of the area. New and existing entrances will be
provided with gates so that accessibility is increased whilst maintaining a feeling of
security for young children. Linking a number of the entrances is a hard surfaced
path that will provide a route through the fields, passing round the football pitches,
and linking areas of interest. These will include two focal points that provide
opportunities for seating, public art and historical and locational interpretation. The
existing feature to the north of the playing fields known locally as ?The Henge? will
become one of these focal point features. Benches and bins will be incorporated into
the design in appropriate locations. Design of the hard and soft landscaping will seek
to reference the heritage of the area.

3.10 Project 7. Severn Way footpath

3.10.1The Severn Way long distance footpath will be enhanced with natural materials
providing improved surfacing as it passes through the Nature Reserve.

3.11 Project 8. Interpretation and way marking.

3.11.1Signage giving directional information will be installed throughout, and way marked
trails identified through the nature reserve and playing fields, linking to the riverside.
Historical and ecological interpretation and information will enhance the visitor
experience and incorporate a coherent theme for public art throughout the area.

3.12 Project 9. Outdoor gym equipment

Outdoor gym equipment, similar to the popular and well used facility in Gheluvelt
Park, will be installed in locations accessible from the surfaced paths, to form a
fitness trail that will link to the local jogging and cycling routes.

3.13 Project 10. Improvements to Model Engineers facilities

The proposal is to enhance the small buildings and toilet block that are operated by
the Worcester and District Model Engineers, which will be made available to other
community groups by agreement. Further discussion with the group is required in
order to establish the viability of this project.

3.14 Project 11. Improvements to allotments

The s106 agreements include sums for improvements to allotments in the ?South of
the City? Officers are consulting with allotment users and the allotment forum on the
prioritisation of works to be carried out. Typically these are likely to include site
security and fencing, water supplies, and access roads and pathways.

3.15 Cost estimates and project plan.

Of the total of ?912k payable to the City Council, ?650k has been received. The
remainder is expected to be paid to the City Council over the next 2-3 years, subject
to completion, sale and/or occupation of the remainder of the developments to which
they relate. It should be noted that further development may give rise to additional
funding.

Having analysed the expected timing of receipt of s106 funding, and considered the
most appropriate phasing of the work, an outline delivery plan has been produced.
The plan is based on a principle of delivering works at the earliest opportunity whilst
ensuring that the funding is used efficiently.

Appendix 4 provides a summary timetable for delivery of 11 projects, commencing
with improvements to the riverside areas and the installation of play equipment in
early 2015. The timetable also details the proposed budget for each of the projects,
with proposed delivery dates over a 2 year period covering 2015 and 2016.

There are a number of variables that are likely to affect these estimates.
Procurement will be carried out over an extended period and prices will be subject to
variation. A number of projects, most significantly the identification of parking
provision, are at an early stage and require further development. As some of the
original potential projects identified within the s106 agreements are not proceeding,
some s106 agreements will need renegotiation to enable new projects to commence.
This renegotiation could have a substantial impact on start dates.

4. Future Work

4.1 Subject to the agreement of Cabinet, the officer project team will further develop
and implement the programme of projects and associated work as detailed within
this report as the s106 funding is available.

4.2 The officer project team will continue to manage the programme and individual
projects. Friends of Diglis Playing Fields, City Ward Councillors, the County Divisional
Member, and other community representatives will be invited to attend appropriate
meetings in an advisory capacity. Further public consultation will be carried out
regarding design elements as the projects proceed, commencing with the play area
from December 2014 and the riverside walk in the New Year.

4.3 Any further applications for development in the Diglis area will be taken into account
as this project proceeds to ensure that the public realm and private development are
complimentary. This will include negotiation of future planning agreements.

4.4 Officers will continue to engage with developers, landowners and statutory partners
to ensure a joined up approach.

5. Equalities, Financial, Health and Safety, HR, Legal, Policy, and Risk
Management Implications


5.1 Equalities Implications - where practicable, access routes will be suitable for users
with impaired mobility. Consideration of accessibility of play equipment and
interpretation features will be integral to design of these items.

5.2 Financial Implications - the April 2014 Cabinet Report stated that ?It should be noted
that it may be appropriate to allocate some of the ?912k to projects outside the
scope of this report. If this is the case, these will be relatively small sums, will fall
within existing delegations, and will not detract from the Diglis public realm project.?
This position is unchanged.

Capital costs for delivery of works are covered by s106 funding in total however not
all the projects are explicitly funding. Renegotiation of agreements will need to be
concluded before some projects can commence.

On going revenue costs will be carefully considered when agreeing the final detailed
specification. It is likely that some additional revenue spend will be required to
deliver the on going maintenance of the enhanced public realm, and this will be
assessed as part of the 2016/17 budget setting process.

5.3 Health and Safety - no significant implications are associated with the content of this
report.
Page

5.4 Human Resources Implications - no significant implications are associated with the
content of this report. Project management will be provided through the property
shared service, funded from the respective s106 funding.

5.5 Legal Implications - the Authority to agree spend of s106 funding is subject to the
City Council?s standing orders. Service Managers on the officer s106 board, in
consultation with relevant Cabinet Members, routinely consult and agree on spend
within individual?s existing delegations. Given the value of the wider Diglis Public
Realm project, agreement of the outline project plan is considered a Key Decision.
Variation to a number of the original s106 agreements (originally drafted as long as
15 years ago) will be required to facilitate the projects supported by the public
consultation where these works do not explicitly fall within the terms of the original
agreements entered in to in 2004. Agreement with the other parties to the s106
agreements will be required in order to formalise the amendments. Discussions are
underway and it is expected that agreement will be reached.

When renegotiating such agreements the revised agreement must be compliant with
the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) Regulations. Until renegotiations are
complete it is not clear all sub-projects will be funded. At particular risk is the
funding of car parking.

Agreements with the Canal and River Trust will also be required with regard to land
ownership and maintenance responsibilities and these negotiations are in progress.

5.6 Policy Implications - making the most of the Riverside is one of the Council?s
priorities.

5.7 Risk Management Implications - to fund this programme up to half by value of the
s106 agreements must be renegotiated. If renegotiations are unsuccessful there will
not be sufficient funding to deliver the full project.
Any renegotiation must be compliant with the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL)
Regulations. It is possible that some elements of the project would not be compliant
- parking provision being particularly at risk in this regard.

Failure to deliver appropriate spend within the terms of the s106 agreements
(original or revised) could result in the loss of this funding. The project management
approach, and the monitoring of this project through the project team mitigates
against this risk.

Carrying out work on the riverside carries an inherent risk due to the potential for
flooding. All contracts will ensure that risks to the Council are appropriately
mitigated, although the risk of delay cannot be removed.

6. Comments of David Sutton, Service Manager, Cleaner and Greener City

6.1 Feedback from consultation following the April 2014 Cabinet Report has confirmed
the high level of support for the proposals. This project will enhance the visitor
experience for established and newly formed adjoining communities as well as for
visitors and those using the access routes to other destinations.

6.2 The improvements to be delivered in this area are not intended to create a high
footfall visitor destination, and will sympathetically enhance and compliment the
existing infrastructure.

6.3 Access to the area, by car, bicycle and on foot, is an important aspect of this project.
Car parking is of particular significance and every effort is being made to engage
with partners and deliver suitable parking provision.

6.4 Effective consultation has been an important feature of the development of this
project and will continue to be so.

7. THE CABINET MEMBER FOR CLEANER AND GREENER CITY, COUNCILLOR
ANDY ROBERTS, RECOMMENDS:


7.1 That Cabinet note the progress made to date.

7.2 That Cabinet endorse the proposals within this report as the agreed project.

7.3 That Cabinet ask Officers to renegotiate s106 agreements where necessary.

Ward(s): Cathedral Ward
Contact Officer: David Sutton, Service Manager, Cleaner & Greener City,
david.sutton@worcester.gov.uk, 01905 722302



The results from the questionnaires demonstrate a very positive response to the
proposals, with most respondents stating that they were either satisfied or very
satisfied with the majority of suggested areas for improvement to the site.
The following received 80% or more satisfied or very satisfied:

? areas identified for wildflowers and trees ? 93%

? proposed circular walks on nature reserves ? 92%

? improvements to the riverside footpaths and cycle ways ? 90%

? provision of natural play & imaginative play ? 85%

? provision of play equipment ? 84%

? location and routes of pathways ? 84%

? provision and location of seating ? 83%

? proposed bow top fence at Waverley Street and St Mark?s Close ? 81%

The following received between 78% - 79% satisfied or very satisfied:

? provision of fitness equipment ? 79%

? areas identified for recreation and football ? 78%

The only anomaly, to the generally positive responses (achieving <78%), was in
response to proposed car parking along Waverley Street with only 45% of
responses stating that they were either satisfied or very satisfied with the
proposal.

In addition to this feedback we received 109 comments, the majority of which
could be summarised by the following subject areas:

Car parking (20%). The theme of the comments is that the car parking issue
does need resolving, but the majority of comments state that they do not like
the idea of either losing green space to parking or allocated parking along
Waverley Street roadside.

There were a significant number of suggestions that
the industrial estate would be a better location for parking.
Footpaths (13%). Some responses with concern over putting hard surfaced
paths across the playing fields, others responses stated that paths would
improve access.

Play equipment (13%). Feedback suggested separating the play areas from
loose dogs, support for natural play equipment and a splash pad/water feature.

Page 15 Agenda Item 4
Background Papers: Diglis Public Realm Project, Report to Cabinet, 15th April
2014

Sport & recreation (10%). Some positive comments regarding the fitness
equipment and requests enable the use of the site for a wider variety of sports.

Bins & seating (8%). Responses identified locations for additional benches and
bins.

Model engineers building & track (8%). Responses mentioned general support
for the model engineers club and potential of new toilet facility.

Fencing (8%). Respondents showed concern for the number of access points
identified and wanted gated entrances to safeguard against children and animals
running from the site and into the adjacent road.

Wildlife (6%). Responses highlighted a desire to protect the existing nature
reserve and to maintain the newly created areas in a sensitive way.

The majority of participants in the survey were from Worcester (84%), 9% were
visitors and the remainder gave no indication. Of those from Worcester 63%
gave a WR5 postcode.

SUMMARY

There is very positive support for the proposals to the Diglis Playing Fields,
nature reserve and riverside by local residents. The responses show that the
scheme reflects comments and feedback previously received and that the design
has successfully interpreted what the community wants.
Further work is needed to shape a suitable solution to the parking issues
experienced in the area.







*All proposed delivery dates will need to be revised as the s106
renegotiations are agreed.
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