Site Specific Allocations

Adopted January 2011

3. Beccles Area

Introduction

Beccles Town Sign.jpg3.1 Beccles is the largest market town in the District, with a population of 10,010 (2007). It is located mid-way between Bungay and Lowestoft on the southern bank of the River Waveney. Its role has been recognised as providing services and facilities for the local population and surrounding villages in Waveney and South Norfolk District. Located nearby is Worlingham, population 3,680. Beccles and Worlingham have grown over the years and now form a single contiguous built up area.

3.2 The villages of Barnby and North Cove are located on the A146 between Beccles and Lowestoft and have a combined population of 920. Together they have been identified as a 'larger village' in the Core Strategy and with limited services and facilities available some future development may be acceptable.

3.3 The location of Beccles will continue to have significant development constraints. Marshland in the floodplain of the River Waveney forms a natural boundary to the north and west of the town. These areas are classified as flood risk zone 3a as identified in the Strategic Flood Risk Assessment (2007). Much of this land also falls within the Broads Authority area. The Broads Authority Area has the same standing as a National Park, placing additional constraints on development. As a result, the majority of recent development has taken place south of the town centre. The potential for further growth to the south is now severely limited by the capacity of the existing residential and town centre road network to accommodate additional traffic.

Beccles Church Tower.jpg

3.4 Beccles town centre is attractive and historic. To protect this character a Conservation Area has been designated. This contains several listed buildings including the Grade I Beccles Bell Tower. The character of the town and its location relative to the Broads are important attributes associated with the tourism based economy.

3.5 The Beccles built up area and the surrounding villages are well connected to other areas by the main transport routes including the A145 and A146 and smaller 'B' class roads to outlying areas. Beccles is serviced by a railway station in the north of the town which has links to Lowestoft, Ipswich and London.

Delivering the Core Strategy Vision for the Beccles Area
3.6 The Core Strategy has highlighted several issues in the Beccles area that need to be addressed. These include the provision of housing, employment land and community facilities. Public consultation on the preparation of the Site Specific Allocations document has assisted in identifying how these needs can be met as part of the long-term development plan.

Residential Development
3.7 Policies CS01: Spatial Strategy and CS11: Housing of the Core Strategy indicate that Beccles with Worlingham is able to accommodate a relatively large proportion of the total housing growth in the market towns from 2001 to 2025. Many of these dwellings have already been built or have planning permission.

3.8 Previously developed land will be the priority for housing development. Many of the brownfield sites that are known to exist in Beccles are small sites or sites that cannot otherwise be allocated for housing development in this Development Plan Document. An allowance was therefore made in Core Strategy Policy CS11: Housing, for an annual supply of windfall dwellings within the market towns. A significant proportion of future housing growth in the Beccles built up area is likely to be delivered on windfall sites in the later stages of the plan period.

3.9 The Waveney Housing Market Assessment (2007) identified Beccles as having higher levels of affordable housing than the other market towns. It also identified a general need for more one and two bedroom dwellings.

3.10 Beccles with Worlingham have experienced the most significant amount of residential growth of all the market towns in the District between 2001 and 2009. Locations for 512 new homes have already been identified, of which 392 have been completed and the remainder have planning permission. A further 25 new dwellings have already been identified in North Cove and Barnby during this period.

3.11 Given the amount of land already developed or with planning permission and the expected development on windfall sites, two sites have been allocated for housing in the area. BEC2, land off Gresham Road, Beccles has been allocated for 28 dwellings. This is the only large brownfield site available in the Beccles built up area. Therefore, to ensure an adequate supply of housing land, that can also address the need for affordable housing, greenfield land at Cucumber Lane/Oak Lane in the south of Beccles has also been allocated, for 15 affordable dwellings (BEC3).

3.12 In the surrounding villages, no sites are allocated for residential development with windfall sites expected to meet local needs. Opportunities to deliver rural affordable housing will be considered against the criteria set out in Development Management Policy DM22: Housing Development in the Countryside.

3.13 The School Organisational Review is currently being undertaken by Suffolk County Council. This may present future opportunities for residential development in Beccles. The re-use of school sites will be considered against Development Management Policy DM26: Re-Use of Vacant School Buildings and Playing Fields.

Employment
Beccles Business Park.jpg3.14 Beccles provides the main focus for employment for the surrounding area with the town centre being the focal point for employment in the retail, commercial and business sectors. Located approximately 2km southeast of the town centre is the Beccles Business Park which accommodates industrial employment uses.

3.15 Core Strategy Policy CS07 identifies a shortage of industrial land in the area, reflecting the findings of the Employment Land Study (2006). There are a lack of opportunities for further industrial development within the town, therefore land near the Beccles Business Park has been identified to meet the need (BEC1). Part of this 14.01 ha site did have planning permission for industrial use but this lapsed in 2008.

3.16 The development of additional employment land at the Beccles Business Park is likely to increase the amount of HGV traffic travelling through Beccles town. To address this, Suffolk County Council is proposing a Beccles Southern Relief Road, as shown on the Core Strategy Key Diagram, with funding to be secured through the County Council and developer contributions.

Community Facilities
3.17 Beccles provides the majority of community facilities for the local area. Continued population growth has placed increasing pressure on these resources and public consultation identified a need for new facilities, as well as improvements to existing ones. In Beccles, these facilities include a Customer Access Centre for public and voluntary sector service provision, a leisure centre facility with a swimming pool and allotments. The public outdoor pool also needs upgrading. In Worlingham, the priority need is for a community centre.

3.18 The building in Beccles currently used as the District Council Customer Service Centre is in need of upgrading. There are limited opportunities in the town centre to deliver a service centre that can properly meet the needs of the community. However, the allocation of land for housing off Gresham Road (BEC2) provides an opportunity to address this need in the next most accessible location.

3.19 Beccles is in need of a new leisure centre (including indoor swimming pool) facility as set out in policy CS14 of the Core Strategy. Earlier in the Site Specific Allocations process, the preferred site to meet this need was identified in the north of Beccles, west of George Westwood Way, in the Broads Authority area. However, due to flood risk issues on this site, potential alternative sites in close proximity to Beccles town centre are being assessed to deliver this community need.

3.20 A significant amount of residential development has taken place in the south of Beccles in recent years. This has resulted in an increasing demand for allotments as identified in the Allotments, Cemeteries and Churchyards Needs Assessment (2007). Land at Nicholson Drive, Beccles (BEC4) and part of the land at Cucumber Lane/Oak Lane (BEC3) are therefore allocated for allotment use.

3.21 The implications of the School Organisational Review are significant for the Beccles area. The potential availability of Worlingham Primary School may enable the vision for a community centre in Worlingham to be realised. The potential closure of the Beccles Middle School may allow for a variety of community uses in a central location. Proposals will need to be considered against Development Management Policy DM26: Re-Use of Vacant School Buildings and Playing Fields.

Transportation and Accessibility
3.22 The A146, north of the built up area, links the town to Lowestoft and wider road network. Access to the town centre from the north and south is along the A145 connecting into a one way system in the town centre. To the south of Beccles, Ellough Road links the Beccles Business Park to the town. The route has created traffic problems for the local community with HGV traffic travelling between these two areas to gain access to and from the A145. The Beccles Southern Relief Road is proposed to assist in addressing these issues and the route is shown on the Core Strategy Key Diagram.

3.23 The upgrading of train services between London and Lowestoft is being addressed through the proposed Beccles Loop. This will be a passing railway line for trains travelling between Lowestoft and Ipswich that will enable a more frequent train service between Lowestoft, Beccles and Ipswich. This increased service will help deliver Policy CS15: Sustainable Transport of the Core Strategy.

Beccles Area Site Allocations

Beccles Area Site Allocations.jpg

Beccles Area Site Allocations Table