Kings Lynn Civis Society Norfolk

Our gateways into Lynn advertise our town - and some are pretty awful.    The Southgates, the bus station,  the railway station, Hardwick roundabout.  There is no statedgy so the recent opportunity to improve the Southgates was lost.  The Council agrees that a blueprint should be written and all new planning development should conform to that.  The hotel at the Southgate should have been part of a wider plan but was given planning permission as if it stood alone rather than contributing, well or badly, to one of our main town gateways.

Good news is that the route from the railway station to the bus station has been improved with paving and control of parking, the railway station has had a "heritage makeover" and the lighting on the South Gate has been changed from orange to white.

Please find our Gateways to Lynn ideas below.

 

Borough Council of King’s Lynn & West Norfolk

King’s Court

Chapel Street

PE30 1EX 

 

Dear Cllr Beales

 

Gateways to King’s Lynn

Some ideas from King’s Lynn Civic Society.

 

We have previously raised our concerns about what we perceive as the lack of a strategic vision for enhancing, or in some cases creating, attractive, inviting and functional ‘gateways’ into Kings Lynn.

 

We feel this matter needs urgent attention owing to the scale of proposed urban expansion proposed in and around King’s Lynn, and some of the ‘threats’ we see to the image of the town and the economic vitality of the town centre. We have discussed meeting to look at sites and opportunities – but thought in the first place that preparation of a sketch plan and notes would be useful for you.

 

Regarding the latter – we see for example plans for construction of an incinerator and a new, larger power station on the southern fringe of the town as potential detractors for the town’s image. The plans for large-scale residential development at the Woottons and West Winch could also have a negative impact on perceptions of the town if not sensitively developed. We feel the substantial expansion of out-of-town retail at Hardwick Road could have negatives impacts on town centre retail.

 

To counter this we feel more effort is required on presenting a positive image of the town and ensuring high quality urban design. Whereas development might have potential for negative impacts it also clearly offers potential for positive and enhancing benefits. One way that new development might assist gateway enhancements is through developer contributions – not least through the proposed Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL), which we understand BCKLWN are yet to formulate a clear policy on. We feel that by setting a clear strategy for appropriate green infrastructure and gateway enhancements it would assist calculation of suitable CIL tariffs.

 

We are aware that BCKLWN have already formulated some broad policy on urban design and green infrastructure goals – and that studies such as The Urban Development Strategy (2006), KLATS (2009) and the Green Infrastructure Strategy (2010) have even named specific gateway improvement projects. We embrace these initiatives – although we feel these studies have tended to overly promote large-scale, high profile projects that may not be easily funded. Meanwhile we feel smaller scale initiatives that could be more easily delivered and that could help build to a bigger ‘picture’ have not been given great attention.

 

In our letter of June we have outlined a number of specific sites and planning applications where we feel opportunities to make incremental improvements to the town and perceptions of it have been missed.

 

We feel that to ensure future opportunities are not overlooked a more detailed strategic vision for key routes and ‘nodes’ in and around the town is required. In some cases we feel such a strategy might include quite specific proposals or initiatives. Ideally such a document could be adopted by Council. In this way planners and developers could be clear about expectations for an area and we would think this could lead to many opportunities for fruitful public/private collaboration.

 

We have provided specific suggestions below for areas we feel need a clear strategy. We attach the sketch plan of the town with annotation. We would welcome further discussion of our suggestions.

 

King’s Lynn Civic Society.  

October 2012

 

 

We highlight the following areas where we feel some strategic design policy would be beneficial:

 

1.       West Lynn / Ferry Square. A very important gateway to the town – with significance for local heritage, tourism, sustainable transport and green infrastructure. We feel a strategic plan here should consider enhancements to Ferry Square itself, improvements and support for the Ferry service, consideration of further parking and improved access provisions. There is potential for substantial development in West Lynn in future years and an integrated approach to these plans will be important for West Lynn and the setting of the Lynn waterfront. It needs to be made clear to developers that appropriate contributions will enhance this area with potential benefits for their individual sites.

 

2.       The Ouse River itself is a gateway to the town (from the north and the south) and is highlighted in Green Infrastructure studies. Proposed plans to enhance the round-Wash footpaths and links to inland routes could benefit Lynn. The quality of the river corridor environment needs to be safeguarded. We have recently commented on a planning application for industrial units near Dow Chemicals (Ref 12-00819-O) where we felt more could be done to integrate the proposed buildings with the wider landscape setting.

 

3.       A17/A47 roundabout: There are long views towards the town from the south and south-west, including long views to St Margaret’s from the A17. Such views and the quality of the road corridor environment in near approaches to the town need to be considered and enhanced/safeguarded. The A47/A17 roundabout is a heavily used gateway to the town – but we feel is poorly presented and maintained (although hopefully the frequent flooding issue at this junction has been solved by the recent works). KLCS have not made specific objections or comments on the recent proposals for a fast food outlet and hotel expansion on the adjacent land – but we fear it is the type of generic development that undermines any local distinctivecharacter. There is a lot of land along Clenchwarton Road apparently awaiting development. A strategic approach to developing and enhancing the entire Clenchwarton road corridor would therefore seem potentially beneficial and this must surely include enhanced dedicated cycle access to Lynn for the fen villages to the west.

 

4.       The Southern bypass to the Hardwick roundabout is a very heavily used road – where many travellers will form their first and perhaps only impression of King’s Lynn. Although the views of the Ouse can be attractive, and the view of Palm Paper is at least one of contemporary industry ‘at work’, in general the outlook is not inviting. We feel more could be achieved to create and maintain an attractive landscape along the immediate road corridor. Generally the vegetation often appears unkempt and is frequently litter strewn. There are views to the rear of unprepossessing industrial areas. When the NORA site is eventually developed we hope designs will consider potential views from this road. Sufficient attention also needs to be given to the rear view of the Campbells site redevelopment. (As this is such a prominent site and the loss of the landmark tower has been so notable – we wonder whether Tesco and their design team should be asked to prepare an animated montage of the proposed development to illustrate proposed views for passing motorists on the bypass. It might inform the detailed design development). 

 

5.       Saddlebow Road. When it was proposed that this road would be for bus access only, it was also suggested that by removing the bulk of traffic there would be opportunities for streetscape enhancement and tree planting. It never happened. However this is the first image of urban King’s Lynn that visitors arriving by bus may have and it could be greatly enhanced. Similar streetscape enhancement would benefit Wisbech Road.

 

6.       Nar –Ouse Way to Southgate: In our letter sent in June we expanded at some length about our disappointments regarding the appearance of the Nar- Ouse Way (now some years after it was built), of the recent proposals at the Kellard House site and of the Southgate roundabout precinct. We feel there have been many missed opportunities and poor decisions associated with this specially designed new route and gateway into the town, and that overall the standard of design appears to be falling well short of what was originally envisaged. We have particular concerns for Southgate itself and remain of the view that detailed design guidance is required for this ‘precinct’, defining  basic limitations for building lines, maximum and minimum heights, and appropriate architectural styles - along with concepts for external space including consideration of car, cycle and pedestrian access.

 

7.       Hardwick Road is an important entrance route to the town and has the ‘asset’ of the cemetery on both sides of the road. The railway bridge ‘pinch point’ is what it is and we doubt can be easily widened. However we feel opportunities have already been missed to improve the streetscape of the east-end section of Hardwick Road – especially on the northern side of the road. We feel as a minimum there should in future be a strategic approach to the size, quality and appearance of buildings and to roadside landscape elements and provision of a consistent, wider dual use path beside the road for cyclist safety. Much of the development here is now established – but as we have seen recently (with the redevelopment of Topps Tiles) opportunities do arise from time to time and incremental improvements could be made over a number of years.

 

The large retail developments for Tesco and Sainsbury will substantially alter the appearance of the Hardwick Road – we hope for the better. We have some concerns about the layout of the ‘mixed use’ part of the Tesco development that appears to show a car showroom, hotel and pub in very close proximity to the road – and we feel they should be set back further to allow for development of a wider ‘boulevard’ character along the road.

 

We welcome the creation of what appear to be wider dual use paths adjacent Tesco, although in general we believe these developments will intensify car use in the locality and create substantial barriers to pedestrian and cycle movement. We have some reservations about the density of tree planting and the use of fastigiate Hornbeam as the principal tree. We feel that in the long-term this species may not provide the best option for a sustainable avenue tree along this principle route into the town, and that another strategic consideration for the Hardwick Road could still be a coordinated approach to tree planting – with selection of species that will provide good, long-term amenity value and minimise future management requirements. 

 

We also feel that BCKLWN need to insist on a long-term landscape management commitment for important structural planting as is proposed at Sainsbury and Tesco. Development of both sites has resulted in removal of mature trees. If future redevelopment cycles are only ever going to be25-50 years long, this important approach into town will never again include mature trees. (The large trees at Hardwick Rd cemetery are estimated to be 150 years old).

 

8.       Hardwick Roundabout, A149, A47 and A10: The roundabout is a very important transport ‘node’, and for many people travelling into Norfolk it may well constitute their primary image of King’s Lynn. Proposals for expansion of the Hardwick industrial area and creation of a new roundabout will greatly alter the present outlook and we feel it is essential that the design of new buildings and their landscape setting is of the highest quality.

 

                We also note the substantial urban expansion proposed for West Winch and North Runcton and expect this will impact greatly on the existing roads (A10/A47 and the roundabout) and in fact may require the construction of new roads. In our view it will be essential that the resulting ‘townscape’ creates a distinctive high quality setting for the approaches to King’s Lynn and that this should be given as much weight in planning as the utilitarian requirements of the road system itself. Another essential outcome must be a dedicated dual-use path network that allows safe cycle access between Lynn and the villages of West Winch, North Runcton, Middleton and places beyond. We feel the present cycle path network in this area is totally inadequate and mitigates against high levels of cycle usage. We feel that sustainable development in this area must have a primary goal of reducing the need for local car journeys – and excellent cycle access would be a cornerstone of that plan.

 

The BCKLWN green infrastructure strategy indicates links from the town into the countryside – and a cycle network in this area could link with the old railway line found here and perhaps link to Bawsey and the Gaywood Valley to the east.

 

9.       A149 to Knights Hill: Previous suggestions have been made to improve links between the town and the Gaywood Valley and we embrace these. The design of any access bridges over the road need to provide an attractive and sustainable feature as they will become prominent landmarks along this road corridor.   Much of this section of the A149 constitutes a relatively attractive ‘roadscape’ with some good views of adjacent countryside. However we feel there are opportunities to provide woodland screening between King’s Reach and the road and also that the ‘acoustic bank’ adjacent the hospital is an eyesore that could easily be enhanced with woodland planting. Proposed alterations to the very busy hospital roundabout must try to retain the relatively successful ‘woodland’ setting.

 

10           A148 – Grimston Road: This is a very important entrance to the town presently providing attractive open views towards South Wootton Common and over the town. If, as proposed, this area is to be the location of substantial urban expansion then it is essential that strategic goals are set for the presentation of the road corridor and entrance to Lynn. We feel some rural character and ‘space’ should be retained – probably with a generous setback between the road and the new development, and space for large tree planting that could create a distinctive and attractive approach down the hill to the Wootton Rd crossroad. Essential infrastructure here must again include wide dual-use paths.

 

                We feel there needs to be a viable buffer of farmland, or perhaps woodland, retained around Knights Hill to retain its ‘hill-top’ setting.

 

11.               Edward Benefer Way: South Wootton also has substantial urban expansion plans that would influence the character of Edward Benefer Way corridor (and also national cycle route 1 to Sandringham). We feel that a strategic plan is required for the entire length of this road to John Kennedy Way. We have made specific comments this year on applications along this route at 29 St Edmundsbury Way (Ref 12-00581-O) and land north of St Nicholas business park (ref 12-01010-EXOM). There are likely to be other planning applications along this corridor and we feel a coordinated approach to enhancing this important route into the town is required so that new development can assist in its delivery.

 

12.               John Kennedy Way / Zoots. We note this area is included as a gateway needing attention in the UDS and Green Infastructure strategies. We hope that the remaining section of railway line can be safeguarded as a potentially useful ‘green asset’ and that any opportunities that may arise in future with adjacent land parcels (including the port and electricity substation) can be utilised to enhance the general perception of the area. In the meantime – what could be done to provide immediate enhancement?

 

13.               Lastly – although we feel there have been some minor but beneficial enhancements to the bus station in recent years – in general as a gateway to the town (and West Norfolk) it is unprepossessing. In general we feel the location – especially in relation to the railway station and the centre of town, are good and we are not aware of any special operational problems with the general scale and layout. However – with Sainsburys refocusing their business at Hardwick, and potential redevelop of the Post Office now being mooted – is the context of the bus station about to change? We wonder whether setting some strategic principals for enhancing this area need to be established. 

 

 

Registered charity no. 298916
Contact details
Alison Gifford
19B Queen Street
King's Lynn
PE30 1HT
Phone
01553 763983
Email
info@kingslynncivicsociety.co.uk
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