Supplementary memorandum by Telford and
Wrekin Council (NT 26(a))
1. What was the original objective of
1. To house the West Midlands growing population
in the 60sprincipally from Birmingham (but also from Black
2. Reclaim and regenerate the East Shropshire
2. Which of these objectives do you
think have been met?
Both. Telford has continued to be a regional
growth point, providing economic growth for north and west of
In addition, substantial reclamation work has
been undertaken to bring into good use most of the 2,000 hectares
of slag heaps, colliery tips, quarries, disused mineshafts and
derelict works that was the East Shropshire Coalfield.
3. What do you consider to be its role
in the region/sub-region in the future?
Telford will continue to be a sub regional focus
for sustainable growth with employment and housing development
in balance. This role is recognised in the current version of
the TPG that take us up to 2021.
4. To what extent is the original masterplan
for the town still used as a guiding principle for development
The original masterplan has been implemented
to a significant extent although, inevitably, some variations
and modifications have taken place. The principles underpinning
the original masterplan are not consistent with the currently
recognised principles of sustainable development and good urban
design, (higher density, mixed use, connected communities, quality
public realm, safe streets, vital and diverse town centre with
public transport, walking and cycling friendly layouts).
Consequently, the review of the Local Plan (recently
commenced) and all masterplanning work undertaken in recent years
(eg Lightmoor, East Ketley, Woodside and the Town Centre) all
promote radically different principles of design and layout that
are now advocated by central government (eg PPG3 and various published
urban design guidance).
5. How well have the old and new parts
of your town been integrated? If they have not been well integrated,
what from does this take in physical/spatial terms and what are
the implications of this for the growth of the town?
A. It is difficult to integrate old and
new developments as the original masterplan isolated the original
towns and also new developments into clusters surrounded by a
green network that is protected under the current Local Plan.
The original five settlements have had the original
road links between them severed and to make matters worse new
direct links to the new Town Centre of Telford have not been provided.
Future growth in the town needs to focus not
only re-connecting old and new communities but in connecting the
new communities to each other. This can be achieved by providing
new road links and through new development to provide safe new
movement routes for people ie a public realm enclosed by development.
This innovative approach is being developed through a masterplan
currently being drawn up for the depressed Woodside area of Telford
where new, developed, links to adjoining established areas are
being investigated. This work is being undertaken in partnership
with EP and the Housing Corporation. This approach is expected
to underpin our work in our new Local Plan.
A consequence of this approach is that some
of the growth originally planned for the periphery of Telford
will be diverted into the existing 'developed' areas and possibly
some of the gaps between them to enable us to develop a more sustainable
pattern of development.
6. Has/can the town achieve the population
relate to the national average? Is this related to your being
a New Town? How do local agencies and strategies respond to that?
A. The original target was 220,000. This
was reduced in the 1970's to around 150,000. The current population
of Telford is some 130,000 but it remains a sub-regional focus
for growth up to 2021.
7. How does the age profile of your
population relate to the national average? In this related to
your being a New Town? How do local agencies and strategies respond
A. The age profile of New Towns inevitably
reflects their attraction in the early development stages for
young families. The focus on lower density family housing in
recent years together with the severe lack of an evening economy
in the Town Centre further skews the profile in comparison with
more traditional settlements.
The following age groups are more strongly represented
in Telford than the UK average:
5-19 (over 7 per cent)
30-19 (nearly 9 per cent)
45-54 (around 7 per cent)
It is under represented in the age group: 65-90
8. How strong is the demand for the
existing commercial land? Is there demand for further commercial
development in the town? What is the effect of commercial development
in the town on other towns in the sub-regional economy?
There has been a steady demand for commercial
land within Telford, however there is a somewhat hidden demand
for speculative development that has been suppressed in the past
by English Partnership not being keen on this sort of development.
Having said that low rental values have traditionally
acted as a damper on speculative development. This also reduces
significantly opportunities for private sector contributions towards
local needs/facilities often achieved through planning obligations.
In Telford we are heavily dependent on EP negotiating these benefits,
as they are often able to, by-pass the planning process.
Telford is also re-positioning itself, having
been very successful in attracting overseas investment (particularly
from Japan) in the last 10 years, it needs to diversify as these
9. Can you describe the sub-regional
planning arrangements that are in place to regulate/facilitate
development? Can you describe the strengths and weaknesses of
the current approach?
The West Midlands RPG is in place with indicative
growth for Telford as a sub-regional focus for growth. Telford
and Wrekin has completed a Joint Structure Plan with Shropshire
County Council which is due for adoption in summer of 2002.
Renew of the RPG is in progress with an EIP
taking place this summer. Telford continues to be a sub-regional
focus for growth.
10. What is the regional/sub-regional
role of the shopping centre in your town? What investment is proposed
in the town centre area in the next few years?
Telford is the largest town in Shropshire and
has a growing sub-regional shopping centre.
The Town Centre Masterplan, approved by Telford
& Wrekin Council, sets out a step change in its development
to create a diverse, 18-hour mixed-use centre with a quality public
realm and new facilities.
The Council and EP have commissioned a study
by DTZ to test the current levels of investment interest to assist
in taking forward the Plan to implementation.
A £30 million new department store and
16 shop units are currently under construction as an extension
to the existing covered retail centre.
11. Can you give some numerical examples
of the problems that have arisen with clawback and covenants in
housing, amenity space and other land uses?
Clawback on amenity/other land uses:
The Council sells some 40 to 50 small areas
of land each year where with clawback still at around 80 per cent
the Council potentially spends more on administration than the
net receipt left available. This provides a disincentive to rationalise
larger land holdings. Land is also held back till clawback reduces
further over the years even where the land is surplus to requirements.
It should be noted that by bypassing the planning
process, the provision of facilities such as social housing and
secondary education is severely compromised.
Clawback on housing land is covered in Question
12. The Committee has been made aware
that in some cases clawback has made Right to Buy marginal or
even negative, in terms of receipts to the local authority. Has
this been the case in your authority, if so can you give a financial
example? What are the implications of this?
Following Transfer of its Housing stock in March
1999, the Council is still held responsible for clawback payments
on ex Development Corporation property now sold by the Wrekin
Housing Trust (RSL established to run the housing stock) under
the Right to Buy legislation. While under the Housing Transfer
regulations the Council is still entitled to part of the receipt
from the RTB disposal, this is likely to be less than the clawback
penalty paid by the Council to English Partnerships. Thus, for
instance, in April 2000 the Council received £678,000 in
respect of 106 RTB disposals of ex Development Corporation stock,
but had to pay £887,000 over to English Partnerships. Every
RTB disposal by the Wrekin Housing Trust costs the Council money!
13. Can you quantify the outstanding
liabilities facing your authority, firstly as a result of the
package of assets and liabilities transferred to the authority
at the winding up of the Development Corporation, and secondly
as a result of design and other issues relating to the New Town?
The sheer scale of the highway network and areas
of open spaces is a major burden on the authority. The assets
transferred to deal with these areas does not cover the costs
Of even greater concern is the fact that as
much of this infrastructure was provided over a short space of
time, there will be a major peak in the next few years in the
capital costs of highway reconstruction or refurbishment. Our
budgets are totally inadequate to cope with this situation.
The design of the early estates (particularly
those following the Radburn layout) coupled with the impact of
the Right to Buy legislation, generates enormous problems in terms
of the logistics and nature of the external spaces requiring maintenance.
The lack of natural surveillance in these areas increases problems
of dumping, graffiti and vandalism which adds to our liabilities.
14. How does the financial value of
the liabilities caused as a result of your town being a New Town,
compare to the financial value of the remaining assets held by
English Partnerships in the town?
The Council has only nominal land assets of
its own. In contrast, we have calculated that the gross development
value of EP's remaining land assets as some £270 million.
While its net value will be less than this figure, we believe
investing in regeneration and the sustainable development of the
town as a whole, including the town centre, will lead to enhanced
From our initial work in the Woodside estate
significant investment will be required over an extended period
to deal with the issues in this area alone. Given our other liabilities
and investment needs (new infrastructure, maintenance of existing
infrastructure, the regeneration of the early New Town estates
and the revitalisation of the Town Centre) we will require a significant
proportion of, if not all, this asset base to be invested locally.
15. To what extent has English Partnerships
participated in regeneration partnerships in your town?
Until very recently English Partnerships have
repeatedly made it clear that they have no remit for regeneration
in Telford. Their primary role is a CNT based one which is to
secure the disposal of their remaining assets in Telford, largely
for the benefit of the Treasury. In the last few months EP have
indicated a willingness to engage in the regeneration of Woodside
and potentially adjoining deprived estates in south Telford. An
innovative partnership is emerging involving the Council, the
local RSL and the Housing Corporation to deal with those housing
areas in greater need where abandonment due to market failure
is already in evidence.
In other areas, EP offer some support through
fully or part funding the commissioning of studies that have a
wider redevelopment value (eg Town Centre).
16. Many of the submissions have referred
to the inadequacy of the existing SSA to reflect the needs of
the New Towns. Can you detail those weakneses and set out any
suggestions about how any successor to the SSA could be improved?
The present SSA system does not recognise the
needs of growing authorities because it is not based on current
figures, especially for population.
We have made representations, as part of a group
of growing authorities, to the Government to change the way they
calculate Revenue Support Grant. We have suggested how data trends
could be used to predict the levels of current population, rather
than relying on actual data which is two years old. These points
have been made in papers and discussions at the Formula Revenue
sub Group, which feeds into the working group on Grant distribution.
There are encouraging signs that the Government is listening to
our case and are inclined to act in our favour on this.
We have also raised other issues affecting the
funding of former new towns, notably inconsistencies regarding
how Combined Fire authorities are treated, the issues of regeneration
needs and the role of English Partnerships and how their assets
Combined Fire Authorities, unlike Metropolitan
Fire Authorities, do not currently have separate precepting powers.
Their budgets (which are not decided by the New Town authorities)
form a part of the local authority budgets and are treated thus
for RSG and Council Tax purposes. This is unfair when compared
with Metropolitan districts, which is why we have pressed strongly
for separate precepting to be introduced. This was included in
the recent White Paper as a commitment from the Government, so
this will at some stage be addressed.
17. Has the pattern of ownership and
CNT/EP's role had any implication in your ability to develop a
housing strategy for the area?
The pattern of land ownership and English Partnerships'
role has not by itself inhibited the Council's ability to develop
a local housing strategy. (Indeed, over the last four years the
Council has been assessed as "well above average" or
"above average" by the Regional Government Office),
but it does impact on its success.
The fact that EP owns the majority of development
sites (which have the benefit of pre-existing planning permission)
has directly affected the authority in achieving one of its strategic
housing objectives, which is to meet the housing needs of the
district, including the need for social and affordable housing.
The Council itself owns very little housing land.
EP release sites to private housing developers
through its annual land release programme. As part of this, a
number of major developments are likely to come forward in the
near future and it is unclear to what extent these will include
social and affordable housing, if at all.
For a number of years EP (and its precursor)
have donated a limited number of sites at 100 per cent abated
value for the provision of social housing. This has been welcomed.
However, other than this, the provision of social housing is
limited to sites that can be acquired by housing associations
on the open market and to provision that can be negotiated with
developers on sites above threshold level using S106 agreements.
In addition, the above pattern of land ownership/disposal
directly affects the ability to achieve communities with a mix
of housing tenures and types/sizes.
An important related factor here is our general
inability to control the form, quality, phasing and infrastructure
of new housing development through the planning process.
18. What is the balance between the
original design/materials used and lack of maintenance/resources
for maintenance in the causes of the poor housing conditions found
in some of the New Towns?
A. It is difficult to apportion their relative
impact. Deficiencies in the original design and layout and maintenance
budgets have been highlighted elsewhere. A significant number
of early houses (around 8,000) were timber framed system built.
They were constructed at low cost and to a rapid timescale. Consequently,
their life expectancy is considerably reduced from the more normal
60 years, with many having already reached or nearing the end
of their useful life. This points to solutions that are a combination
of some clearance, comprehensive investment in repair and major
investment in the external environment including replacing the
road infrastructure and layout.
19. Has your design led to problems
with crime? If so, have you looked at ways to design out crime?
Are there any funding streams currently available to address this
particular problem and if so how successful have you been bidding
for such funding?
The general absence of a pattern of continuous
development that fronts on to the main movement routes with secure
enclosed rear gardens/areas found in more traditional settlements
generates significant problems relating to Community Safety. This
occurs at the local level within estates (especially the Radburn
layouts) and between estates where they are surrounded by open
space and non-frontage access distributor roads. The general isolated
disposition does not encourage walking or cycling or travel by
public transport. This further reduces levels of natural surveillance
essential to safe places.
The layouts also provide countless opportunities
for people to hide unobserved through recesses, alleys and inappropriate
landscaping. It is not surprising therefore that surveys of local
residents put community safety as their biggest concern.
20. What are you doing through your
Local Transport Plan to address the problems of car dependence?
Does your Local Transport Plan include provision for dealing with
issues of design and layout where that promotes car dependence?
The Council's LTP is rated as "well above
average" and the Council has recently secured Beacon Status
for "Better Access and Mobility". Promoting sustainable
transport is a key theme of our LTP. Specific initiatives are
set out below:
Quality Bus Servicesredline 44 and blueline
33 are Telford & Wrekin Council's first two quality bus partnerships.
They are the product of a comprehensive agreement between the
Council, and local bus and rail operators and form part of a strategy
to achieve a step change in the provision of the town's high frequency
"core" bus network to fully accessible quality partnership
The results of the project have been significant.
Together the two routes have arrested the long term decline of
bus patronage in Telford (3 per cent per annum over the last decade)
and contributed to patronage growth across the district of 8.5
per cent. The results also demonstrate modal shift away from the
private car of between 6 and 9 per cent.
Development of bus lanes, including
two legs of the Telford "box road" designed to improve
reliability and reduce travelling times on local bus services.
Construction of bus boarders and
build outs rather than the traditional lay-by, thus keeping the
vehicle in the lane of traffic whilst passengers board and alight
and thereby contributing to improved reliability and a reduction
in travelling times.
Installation of "bus friendly"
traffic lights providing priority at signalised junctions to local
Implementation of roadside infrastructure,
including the development of passenger interchange sites and the
enhancement of waiting facilities to promote bus services at the
expense of other road users.
Telford's segregated residential,
retail and employment areas make it difficult to comprehensively
serve all travel needs by conventional public transport. To overcome
this the Council piloted an innovative taxi-share scheme Fareshare
with a local operator, with a view to ultimately developing a
town wide scheme allowing access to employment opportunities at
a similar cost to bus travel. Since the initial pilot project
the Council has secured funding under the Urban Bus Challenge
programme to develop a town wide taxibus and taxi-sharing scheme.
The system managed by the Council's new Mobility Centre will target
workplace travel requirements to provide both enhanced travelling
opportunities and a realistic and affordable alternative to the
21. Q: Have you introduced or planned
any measures to promote mobility schemes targeted at the old or
A: The Council took the opportunity
as part of its introduction of the national minimum scheme to
develop its Concessionary travel service for elderly and disabled
residents. The choice of concessions now available, including
a range of bus and rail card options, and for disabled and mobility
impaired residents and additional choices of Telford Dial-a-Ride
or National Transport Tokens, represents one of the most comprehensive
concessionary travel services in any non-metropolitan area. Indeed,
the new concessions have been warmly welcomed by local residents
and we anticipate issuing more travel concessions again this year
Since unitary status Telford and Wrekin has
supported a limited scheme to promote and facilitate access to
Post 16 establishments. In particular the initiative seeks to
contribute to the Council's overarching objectives of combating
poverty and social exclusion and promoting the needs of children
and young people. The Council has recently been successful in
securing additional resources as part of the DfES's Transport
Pathfinder Project to augment the exisiting scheme on a pilot
basis. The new arrangements, commencing this September, will provide
free term time travel within the district for students from some
of the areas most deprived wards.