Introduction

1.1 The Site and Proposal

“Our vision is to inspire, innovate, believe and achieve. Offering a centre of excellence empowering all individuals to improve their lives creating happy sustainable and vibrant communities.”

The proposal is for a community centre and community garden with associated car parking.

The site is on the edge of the new Wilstock Village in Bridgwater, Somerset. To the south is an existing farm and to the west a proposed play area. New homes face the site across the street to the north and to the east. The site is at the edge of the Somerset Levels where the landscape starts to rise up towards the Quantocks. It is located within the Parish of North Petherton. The site areas is 1800m2.

Wilstockhub Values / Constitution

Wilstockhub is a charity who’s aim is to provide a community hub serving Wilstock and Stockmoor.

The values of the charity are:

  • Inclusiveness – We respect people, value diversity and are committed to equality.
  • Respect – for each other, our community and our partners.
  • Quality – We strive for excellence in everything that we do

The hub is the expression of a new community working together to make shared sociable spaces that can sustain a network of activities.

  • In July 2018 a feasibility study developed objectives for Wilstockhub.
  • In March 2019 those objectives were revised to respond to learning from stakeholder engagement and to reflect the need to phase the project and reduce the cost of the first phase and the cost overall.

1.2 Project Objectives and Concept

Quality Objectives

The Wilstockhub should be designed and constructed to:

  • Make a distinct contribution to the character of the area
  • Express the Wilstockhub’s wish to be inclusive and set a standard of excellence
  • Be well built and straightforward to maintain and be made from attractive, durable and robust materials and finishes

Project Aims and Objectives

The Wilstockhub should be designed and constructed to:

Project Outcomes

The Wilstockhub should be designed and constructed to:

  • Inspire people to take part in and build a community both indoors and out.
  • Have positive street presence, offering links to useful outdoor spaces and positive connects to the adjacent playground and school.
  • Contribute to the neighbourhood and create a desirable destination for people to meet, socialise, take part in activites and access services.
  • Provide a welcoming reception (occasional cafe) space to suit the flow of events
  • Provide a series of flexible community rooms of different sizes and good related storage, kitchen and WC facilities – to support a variety of events.
  • Provide a nursery and garden that is separate, secure and well integrated and designed to meet the Early Years Foundation Stage requirements and Ofsted National Standards.
  • Be energy efficient and economical to run – taking into account the varied occupancy of different parts of the building.
  • Be inclusive and meet the DDA requirements so that the quality of experience of all users is equivalent.

‘maximising the openness of the Wilstockhub to the street and to  the playgrounds adjacent – linking indoor spaces to gardens and nature’

Brief Development and Community Engagement

2.1 Community Engagement 2016 / 2017

In 2016/17 Wilstockhub carried out consultation into the newly forming communities’ ‘wants and needs’, these were summarised as follows.

The first set of wishes for sporting activities need larger scale spaces and should be met elsewhere in Wilstock and Stockmoor. The needs expressed in 2-6 give a good sense of the demand for the hub building and its potential role in the community.

  • Sports Clubs and Activities – A large range of sports clubs including football, hockey, basketball, tennis, netball, crazy golf, archery, bowls, table tennis, cricket, rounders, volleyball and other forms of physical activity.
  • Bar, Social Space and Coffee Mornings – a space to socialise and meet people.
  • Toddler Group – mother and baby groups alongside a full-time nursery and parenting group
  • Youth, Kids and Adult Workshops – a range of classes and activities including scouts beavers, brownies, guides, drama, music, gardening, computer, knitting, craft, dance, singing, ballet, pantomime, art, cookery, DIY, choir, gymnastics, design workshop, games, film nights, language lessons, education, job agency and workshop classes for the elderly.
  • Venue Hire – to provide space for live music and other entertainment and a venue for celebratory events including lots of children’s parties and community pantos.
  • Support Groups – Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, slimming, police surgeries, help groups, meeting groups, parenting support, mental health support and one stop shops for example money management, meeting rooms for all local/community groups.
  • Shop / Post Office Convenience Store

2.2 Community Engagement 2018

“Public engagement via community consultations and recommendations through our ‘Evidence of need’ report by Locality have assisted trustees to refine the proposal for a Community Centre”.

Wilstockhub have held a series of public consultation events to develop proposals. These events were held together with partners Liverty (formerly Knightstone Housing Association). The communities needs and wishes are captured in the Wilstockhub’s objectives.

Wilstockhub Developed Aims and Objectives

  • Offer opportunities and events where all ages can engage in a range of positive activities inclusively.
  • Provide and support recreation and leisure facilities with the object of improving the conditions of life for all.
  • Support the advancement of education, training and employment.
  • Giving access to social welfare and health services.
  • Provide a space for childcare, for mother and baby and after school clubs.
  • Provide a base for local service providers to meet the needs of the wider community.
  • Promote good physical and mental health, providing links to nature and conserving nature.
  • Advance community cohesion and inclusion, promoting
    public safety and crime prevention.

Stakeholder Meeting 2018

A Stakeholder Meeting was held in October 2018 and feedback from that event has informed how the project has progressed. Through 2018 negotiations were also held with Bloor and Sedgemoor District Council to improve the relationship between the Wilstockhub its surroundings creating a Community Garden between the building and the hard play court. This arrangement and the proposed site boundary have been agreed.

At the Stakeholder Meeting people responded well to the idea of creating a building with a community feel that can be occupied in a variety of ways and of establishing close links with nature. People asked if the hall proposed was big enough so a second check was made comparing the size of the hall to that of similar community halls in Somerset and Devon and also reviewing that the amount of storage was suitable. The potential role and scale of the nursery was reduced so that the scope for community activities can be increased.

Context and Planning History

3.1 Planning Policy Context

The design proposals have been developed with regards to Sedgemoor District Council’s Policy D2 – Design (Local Plan 2011-32). Responding also to the clients aim to create a convivial and socially interactive building it designed to be visually accessible to passers-by walking along the street. The entry is designed to bring the street intro the building framing a view of the of one of the three mature oak tree that are a special feature of the site. Internally the café space is an informal connecting space that links the different activities of the hub and makes a strong relationship with nature. The interior layout has been developed to reflect Part M and give level access between indoor and outdoor spaces.

The form of the building is respectful to surrounding homes and relates to the scale and character of public and agricultural buildings in the area. Landscape elements are integrated in the design drawing on the qualities of the gardens at Cannington. It is intended that some special pieces such as the entrance gates will be made in Bridgwater. The building is designed to maximise its sustainability by taking a fabric first approach – there is room for an extensive south facing solar array. There is also an opportunity for the hub to demonstrate sustainable lifestyles – such as domestic scale approaches to recycling, composting and water efficiency.

The proposal responds to Policy D35 – Local Services by providing a wide range of amenities and creating a social and cultural destination within walking distance of homes in Wilstock village – where currently there is no indoor public meeting place. The site is also within walking and cycling distance of Hamp and the proposed housing and employment at Bridgwater Gateway.

3.2 Approved Plans

The Planning Application (37/17/00085) established some principles for what can be provided at the site.

The elements proposed were:

  • A community building with a gross ground floor area of approximately 410m2 – comprising: an entrance lobby, a large hall, kitchen and wcs a large meeting room and small office.
  • A stand alone bin store 2.4 x 4.8m
  • A MUGA of 245m2
  • An area of hard standing for car parking – Parking for twelve cars (including four disabled), two motorcycles and four cycles.
  • An associated play area to the west is to be delivered by others along with the MUGA – interface between this and the building and site to be developed. The site area is approximately 1900m2.

Site Appraisal

4.1 Wilstock Farm and Countryside Views

The site has views to the south of open country and of the adjacent Wilstock Farm and its outbuildings. These are in red brick, render and stone with slate roofs. Some later additions are to be demolished and replaced with new buildings or to be over clad in timber. There are three mature Oak trees close to the site boundaries. The canopies of the two trees to the south overlap the site.

4.2 Wilstock Village

The houses facing and next to the Community Centre are two and two and a half storey they are built in two types of red brick or reconstituted stone, roof materials are either grey slate effect or red double roman or brown pan tile. The Eastern boundary of garden and garage walls have been built by Bloor Homes.

4.3 Wilstock Village (Continued)

A new site survey, ground conditions report and Transport Assessment have been prepared for this application. The built road layout, site boundaries and services have been checked with Bloor Homes. The 2018/19 Planning Applications details the role of the site in contributing to the SUDS and landscape strategy and defines how it will be accessed and serviced. Other feature to note are:

Areas of hard and soft landscaping with 4 street trees and a possible two further trees indicated – to be defined by Wilstockhub.

  • Two street lights illuminate the car park and street.
  • The car park should be provided with the central area in porus paving to a depth of 0.45m the balance can be tarmac to be defined by Wilstockhub.
  • The Opportunities and Constraints plan show overhead services crossing the site – Bloor have confirmed these are to be routed underground

4.4 Summary of Site Constrains

The site is located at the edge of Wilstock Village facing north onto a recently constructed street. The ground slopes gently up from the south west corner at 8m to 9m at the north east. The adjacent Multi Use Games Area (MUGA) and Play Area are by others.

1. Access from pavement along existing serviced street – connections for water, gas, electricity and waste water will be made services run in the pavement / footway adjacent.
2. Existing houses.
3. Swale end to be moved away from site boundary- manhole to be amended.
4. Proposed street trees by Bloor.
5. ‘Enhanced Boundary Treatment’ required to the southern boundary by Wilstockhub.
6. Three mature Oak Trees close to the site boundary.
7. Fragments of hedgerow outside site boundary.
8. Long views into and out of the site.
9. Location of proposed parking

Design Proposals

5.1 Proposed Site Layout and Access

The proposed building and car park is accessed via the new street linking the phases of Wilstock Village to the A38 and M5.

A Transport Plan has been prepared for this proposal by Transport Planning Associates (Dec 2019). They recommend 12 car parking spaces and 12 cycle spaces. This will ensure parking is not over provided and will encourage people to cycle and invite cyclists to use the hub. This supports, Wilstockhub’s wish to promote walking and cycling to the site. The car park also includes a bin store of approximately 11.5m2.

The Hard Play area (or MUGA) could be used by the Wilstockhub at times when other uses would be infrequent. It is proposed that the MUGA will be owned and run by SDC therefore there would be a charge for this use.

The proposed site layout retains the car park as originally proposed whilst forming a more definite street presence for the building alignment. The car parking is aligned to the site boundary and the building elevation aligned with the street. The building outline has been made more regular to remove left over un-surveyed spaces. This also makes room for a community garden and play areas and wildlife garden to the south with good links between community rooms and outdoor spaces.

The building responds in scale to the two and two and a half storey houses nearby. It is arranged in three parts the community hall, the nursery and the hub/café-kitchen between them. The nursery and the community hall enclose the courtyard garden and MUGA to the rear. The aim is to create active interfaces with the street and courtyard and integrate the public rooms with service spaces.

5.2 Preliminary Views

Street View
Garden View
Cafe & Hall

Views prepared for Stakeholders in 2018 indicate the scale and form of the proposed Wilstockhub (Colour scheme not fixed).

5.3 Proposed Accommodation

The proposed building is organised into two wings. The east wing is the smaller and contains three community rooms, two small and one large. The large room is to have flexibility to be used as a self-contained playroom or nursery whist also being available for other uses. Therefore, it includes a small kitchen, WCs and a store room. The play room has 66.6m2 usable area and is served by three wcs. This can accommodate 28 children of two years of age plus. This wing also includes two meeting rooms and the WCs and plant room for the whole building.

The west wing includes the main hall. This is designed to be suitable for performances, receptions, clubs, sports activities and parties and to be able to be subdivided for training and fitness and other classes. Chair, table and stage storage is proposed. The hall can be used in conjunction with an adjacent bar and/or kitchen. The kitchen also serves the café area which provides for informal meeting space and contains flexible lockers for individual clubs and societies.

The building needs to be flexible adaptable and robust able to accommodate a diversity of use. The hall can be used as two rooms and could have a mezzanine added in future. The separation of tea and coffee making from the kitchen means the café can remain open whilst the kitchen can be used for training or as a community kitchen (for apple pressing or jam making etc.).

If necessary the building construction could be phased. The first phase would include the playroom/nursery, the WCs and plant and also two meeting rooms. The second phase includes the main hall, kitchen and café. The proposed phasing has been devised to enable the Wilstockhub to become operational and to support a variety of uses early on.

Part M Accessiblity – The building is designed to be fully accessible to all users with level access from the street and to the garden.

5.4 Community Gardens

The site contributes to the street landscape and to the wildlife corridor on its southern boundary. The street interface has areas of low level planting and three street trees. Off this is the car park. It is proposed that this area should be designed as a walled garden with trained fruit trees, or fruiting climbers and ground cover against the walls .

The cafe links to an outdoor terrace and a community garden where raised beds can be established over time. The play room/nursery has a secure garden and toy store. The plan also shows a linear strip running along the southern boundary of about 267m2 where a native hedge is to be established – this should not include thorny varieties.

5.5 Street Elevation

So that it stands out as a public building the material palette for the Wistockhub is varied from the language of construction around it. While it needs to have presence, it shouldn’t overwhelm the mainly two storey housing in scale.

The proposal is to create coherent well proportioned vernacular forms finished in a softly textured durable render finish with a grey concrete tile roof that is similar in tone to those nearby. Profiled render frames articulate special windows. The entrance is designed to have a civic scale and be inviting drawing people in from the street. 

Landscape is an important material element throughout.

Key

1. Rendered walls with two contrasting finishes. Profiled reveals to main windows.
2. Marley Wessex concrete interlocking tiles – smooth grey finish.
3. Aluminium powder coated gutters and down pipes.
4. Powder coasted metal windows.
5. Notice board
6. Ironwork folding entrance gates with view to glazed entry door – powder coated individually cut out metal letters above.
7. Short ramp and guardrails to fire escape.
8. Street trees – three, semi mature using Wilstock Village types.
9. Low level planting around gas meter cupboard.
10. Existing houses.

Design Proposals

6.1 Building Materials / References

6.2 Landscape Materials / References

6.3 Safety & Security

Wilstock Village is a safe community and the scheme has been designed to be secure, whilst also being an open and inviting building serving the community.

Passive Surveillance – The north, east and west façades of the building are overlooked by residential housing. The south facade will in future be in sight of new homes on Wilstock Farm

Secure Boundary Line – The building acts as a secure boundary to the street (north facing façade), play area (west facing façade) and carpark (east facing facade). To the south open side of the hub, a 1.8M high and 2.4M high metal frame mesh fence provides security to the farmland beyond. Ironwork entrance gates protect the entrance area out of hours. These gates are open when the building is in use. All doors and windows are PAS 24 compliant.

Security Alarm – Monitored security alarm with vibration sensors connected to all external windows doors & rooflights

Lighting– Perimeter & car park lighting (non light-polluting but with facial recognition). Activated by movement sensors.

Bar / Café Security – There will be secure lock up stores for valuable items and CCTV at the rear of the building.

Staff – The management system will be developed by the nursey manager with the local police to deal with safety & security. The nursery room will be manned by up to 7 staff who will have access to an emergency number and or panic buzzer as needed.

Environmental Strategy

7.1 Environmental Statement

The following environmental and ecological survey information prepared for Wilstock Village including this site is to be reviewed, checked for updates and extended if needed.

• Ecological Impact Survey 2015 and 2017 updates Badger and Bat Surveys 2017.

• Arboricultural Survey, Impact Assessment and Tree Protection Plan Arboricultural Method Statement (Treework Environmental Practice 2018).

Extracts from the Wilstock Phase 3B Environmental Statement

An Environmental Statement by Tetlow King summarise the assessment of all the environmental impacts relating to the Wilstock, Phase 3B application. This includes work done by ADAS, Fairhurst and SLR. The main areas that relate to the Wilstockhub site are:

Chapter 6: Arboriculture Constraints

The Arboriculture Impact Assessment was done by Treework Environmental Practice (26.09.17 Revision). There are three mature Quercus robur English Oak trees just outside the site boundary.

Tree/Height (m)  Life stage/Condition Category

T1   16          Mature/Good        B/1

T2   14          Mature/Fair          B/1

T3   18          Mature/Good        B/1

A protective fence between construction and the three trees is required in the construction phase. Otherwise the building footprint is about 10m away from the root protection zones, landscape work within the construction exclusion zone of for the second tree on the boundary to the west (T2) will require an arboriculture method statement.

Generally, the arboriculture reports noted that the environmental impacts will not be significant because the majority of the trees are within areas which are not affected by the proposals and where they are, mitigation in the form of tree protection and sympathetic construction methods will be utilised.

The landscape strategy proposes an enhanced boundary to the southern edge. This could include the provision of a number of new trees. The existing hedge that this should be a continuation of H4 Crataegus monogyna Common Hawthorn / Quick / May and Prunus spinosa Blackthorn / Sloe.

New trees are also proposed within the Wilstockhub site itself. Generally, it is proposed that native species will be used and the quantity and range of trees will improve. The trees specified are:

Extra Heavy Standard (West of the WH):
Betula utilis jacquemontii
Liquidambar styraciflua ‘Worplesdon’

Heavy Standard:
Acre campestre (nursery) Betula nigra (car park)

Chapter 7: Ecology Impact Assessment

An Ecological Impact Assessment for Wilstock, Phase 3B was prepared by ADAS for Bloor Homes in 2015 and updated in 2017. The objectives were to identify any designated sites and habitats of ecological value and assess the potential for any protected or notable species to be affected by the proposed development. In the summary (7.194) the post mitigation effects on wildlife were assessed as not significant.

Bat activity was recorded along the southern edge of the Wilstockhub site. Activity was monitored in July, August and September 2015. Common Pipistrelle, Sporano Pipistrelle, Myotis and Serotine activity detected on the site boundary and Noctule activity detected nearby to the east. The site is not identified as a ‘dark area’ in the Over-arching lighting plan (Appendix 7.13) as this is targeted to more ‘light intolerant’ species of bat.

Secondary surveys of Bat Roosts were made in 2017 (Bat Roost Surveys, DAS Sept. 17). The mature Oak Trees near the site are noted as having bat roosting potential. In summary T13/14 have low potential and T15 moderate potential.

T13/or T3 Broadleaved tree category one bat potential

T14/ or T2 Broadleaved tree category two bat potential

T15/or T1 Broadleaved tree category one bat potential

It is recommended that any vegetation clearance work associated with the proposed development is undertaken outside the bird nesting season (typically March – August inclusive) following approved methods to avoid killing or injuring reptiles.

Chapter 8: Landscape and Ecological Management Framework

See earlier outline application for Landscape and Ecological Management Framework.

Chapter 9: Lighting Assessment and Strategy

As noted above no light zones identified in other areas.

Chapters 10 / 11 / 12: Archelogy, Ground Conditions / Contamination and Flood Risk

Site is outside Flood Risk Zone 1 but is identified as being subject to a small are of ponding on the southern boundary this can be reduced by improving the site levels and surface water drainage.

Chapter 13: Utilities

Overhead cable to be laid underground – crossing proposed car park.

7.2 Sustainability in Construction and use

A Well Insulated and Highly Efficient Building

• The building has been designed with a fabric first approach thus reducing energy consumption and the building will be highly insulated to minimise its energy demand.

• The proposed construction material for the main walls is of a breathable type which shall aid the internal environment and reduce embodied carbon in construction.

• The building will be serviced with highly efficient systems including high efficiency LED lighting with daylight and occupancy controls. It will integrate services and appliances that reduce electricity and water use.

• The building will be naturally ventilated where possible to minimise running costs and allow end user interaction.

• The heating shall be provided by a highly efficient gas fire boiler that shall provide low temperature hot water to suit the underfloor and radiator / fan convector heating. Heating controls shall be zoned accommodate the varied occupancy / use.

• Solar panels are included on the southern elevations so that these can be included or retrofitted in future.

• To ensure the systems are user friendly – ‘plain English’ descriptions of internal environmental conditions and seasonal control strategies and systems will be prepared.

An Interactive Socialhub and Garden

• The Wilstockhub is designed to promote interaction with nature and demonstrate the reuse and recycling of resources. The hub can convene social activities focused on climate action to be led by residents.

• The kitchen, café, nursery and garden and other meeting spaces can be used together to demonstrate climate friendly practices and host low carbon projects.

• The community garden can be developed by the community to enhance biodiversity. As well as the addition of landscape biodiversity, new animal habitats can be created.

• The community garden can demonstrate ways to harvest water and recycle kitchen and other domestic waste.

• The generous kitchen can be used for cooking classes from garden to plate or related to foraging in the surrounding countryside.

• The building and garden can hold tool libraries to enable residents to share resources and expertise. It can be a centre for gardening events in the wider Wilstock Village landscape.

• The hub will encourage alternative means of transport. It can be a meeting place for walking, running and cycling activities. It can host children learning to cycle in the MUGA and cycle repair and maintenance events.

Appendix 1: Context and Planning History

Development of a Revised Layout

The site plan proposed in 2018 has been revised to consolidate more external space so it can be used in relation to the building in particular making a stringer relationship between the building and a community garden to the south. There are several strips of irregular space that are difficult to use (4.). The largest outside area (5.) is adjacent to the blank wall of the WCs. The street interface and relationship between the MUGA and the building is weak.

1. Main entrance faces away from street.
2. Main elevation doesn’t relate to the building line of the street established by houses.
3. Blank elevation of single storey store room faces towards important public space.
4. Outdoor spaces narrow and irregular and difficult to use. 
5. Small area suitable for community garden – with poor visual links to building interior. 
6. Key countryside views obscured by 3m high fences to MUGA / Hard Play. 
7. Relationship park, MUGA / Hard Play, Hub has been developed in consultation with SDC. 
8. MUGA Hard play area by Bloor. 
9. Parking, twelve cars (four disabled access), two motorbikes and four cycle racks.
10. Bin stores adjacent to home possible noise issues.

Appendix 2: Context and Planning History

Responding to the Community Appraisal

Learning from the Project Appraisal by Locality

The proposal for a Community Centre was made before a client body was established, before the community client could identify needs and develop a business case for the project. In November 2016

Locality were commissioned to support Wilstockhub to consult the community about the activities they would like to see accommodated and assess these against existing provision. It was identified that the amount of lettable space should be increased if possible.

To include:

  • Flexibility for expansion or include a mezzanine with room for an extra meeting room / dance studio / office space. A
  • large kitchen – to cater for up to 100 and use for catering training.
  • Give separate access to the hall area and a bar area for income generation.
  • Wings for a stage area for performances.
  • Storage area – for all user’s equipment, portable stage sections, tables and chairs.
  • Large lobby area to suit flow of events.
  • Pushchair / buggy store.


Also in developing the design attention should be give to the acoustic properties of main hall and responsive heating and ventilation should be provided.

Appendix 3: Precedents

Appendix 4: Site / Garden Precedents

Appendix 5: Community Hall Testing

  • The hall is currently configured from two rooms when joined they would be 18.3 x7.8m. The two rooms would be separated by a good quality folding partition that provided acoustic separation.
  • The following test the layout of the hall for different uses or functions. It shows that while at this scale it achieves the desired capacity of 100+ for functions and events it would benefit from being wider and less long.
  • The plans also identify how many chairs and tables would need to be stored and this is accommodated on the layout on the page before this.
  • The use of stacking stage system is tested – this can be stored in racks. The precedent Heriot Village Hall uses vacated stores to create stage wings.

Appendix 6: Nursery Layout Testing

The two nursery plans test further the number of nursery places that could be achieved in the three options. The larger plan on the left is as Option 1A and Option 2 the plan on the right is about 30m2 smaller as Option 1B.

Each has a baby playroom of 21m2 allowing for 6 baby (1-2yrs) places. The size of the 2 – 4 playroom varies from 100m2 to 72m2. When deducting storage areas and 15% for furniture and circulation this gives a play space of around 83m2 and 60m2 respectively. The number of 2 – 4 year old places that could be offered in total would be around 32 and 24 giving either a 38 place or 30 place nursery.

The second option (1B) makes room for an additional community room on the ground floor.