Part 1 THE VISION

Introduction

1.1 The Aston, Newtown and Lozells Area Action Plan (AAP), forms part of Birmingham's Local Development Framework (LDF) and acts as a basis for determining planning applications and bringing forward regeneration in the AAP area.

1.2 The purpose of the plan is to provide a clear vision and strategy for regeneration and development in the Aston, Newtown and Lozells area over the period 2012-2026. The AAP sets out a comprehensive
and co-ordinated approach to shaping housing, employment, local centres, community facilities, infrastructure, transport and the environment.

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Location

2.1 The AAP covers an area of approximately 903 hectares and lies immediately north of Birmingham City Centre. From the A4040 Ring Road the Plan area stretches north to include Perry Barr/Birchfield Centre,
east towards Gravelly Hill Interchange (Spaghetti Junction) and west to Hamstead Road.

2.2 The constituencies of Ladywood and Perry Barr lie within the AAP. It is home to a broad mix of land
uses, a range of local centres and several distinctive neighbourhoods. 54,034 people live in the vibrant
communities which make up this diverse and dynamic place (Office for National Statistics (ONS) 2009).

2.3 The area has excellent transport links with good access to public transport and motorway networks. The major arterial routes running though the area are the A38 (Aston Expressway), A34 Birchfield Road and A5127 Lichfield Road. The A4540 Ring Road runs along the southern boundary and the A4040 Outer Circle runs close to the northern boundary. The Birmingham Walsall Railway Line traverses the north eastern boundary of the plan, served by Perry Barr, Witton and Aston Stations. The Cross City Railway Line runs close to the eastern boundary, also running through Aston Station.

2.4 Many of the City's iconic structures and institutions are located here, including Aston Villa Football Club, Aston Hall and Park, Birmingham City University and Spaghetti Junction. Other assets include a variety of green open spaces and waterways such as the River Tame, Tame Valley Canal and the Birmingham and Fazeley Canal.


FIGURE 1 Location Plan (Constituency and Ward boundaries)

The challenge and the opportunity

3.1 There are a number of strategic and local factors influencing the need for change in Aston, Newtown and Lozells, which present a huge regeneration challenge.

Housing and population
3.2 Demographic Trend Projections from the ONS for the period 2006-2026 point to a 14% growth in Birmingham's population with a particularly high rate of growth in the child population and people 80 years and over. The population in the AAP area has grown from 50,828 in 2001 to 54,034 in 2008. It has a young population profile with 28% of residents under 16 years of age (ONS, 2009). The Black and Minority Ethnic community is large and diverse, making up 76.4% of the resident population compared to 29.6% city-wide (Census 2001).

3.3 A key challenge for the City as a whole is to respond to household growth and the need to increase housing provision. Birmingham's Core Strategy Consultation Draft 2010, aspires to embrace sustainable growth of the City by providing for a target of 50,600 homes. This supersedes the older (2004) UDP housing target.


Housing transformation
Housing transformation

3.4 The majority of the AAP area falls within the Birmingham- Sandwell Housing Market Renewal Area (Urban Living), which was set up in 2002 to tackle weak housing markets. In Aston, Newtown and Lozells the housing stock is characterised by areas of large-scale post-war housing with a high rate of obsolescence, proportionally fewer detached and semi-detached dwellings compared with terraced properties and purpose built flats, lower than average home ownership levels (42% compared with 60% across the City), and a higher than average proportion of homes owned by the local authority or housing associations (44% compared with 27.8% in the City), (Census 2001). A lack of family housing is evidenced by overcrowding and aspirations for larger homes (Census 2001 and the Birmingham and Sandwell Housing Needs Study Final Report 2003). The poor environment and issues with crime and safety reinforce the high rate of resident dissatisfaction with the area (Birmingham and Sandwell Housing Needs Study Final Report 2003).

3.5 There is a great opportunity to transform the housing situation in Aston, Newtown and Lozells by capitalising on the area's strategic location just north of Birmingham City Centre, and on the excellent transport links offered. The challenge is to provide sufficient housing for the growing population and meet the need for larger family accommodation. Housing is just one element in the equation of creating better places to live and has to be balanced against the many other demands on land. Maintaining a supply of employment land and providing jobs is a key aspect of this AAP, as is the creation of sustainable neighbourhoods.

The economy
3.6 The need to maintain a supply of employment land is driven by the adopted Birmingham Plan (UDP) and the Core Strategy Consultation Draft which encourage the provision of a portfolio of employment land to ensure that no desirable investment is lost due to the lack of a suitable site. As part of this portfolio provision will be made for Regional Investment Sites (RIS) intended to encourage the diversification and modernisation of the region's economy and the development of the cluster priorities. The Core Strategy Consultation Draft identifies two RIS within the City - Longbridge and Aston. A major proposal in this AAP is the designation of a RIS in East Aston.

3.7 Like many parts of the City, manufacturing has been in decline for the last few decades and this has affected the area's economic prosperity. A large proportion of the Wards in the AAP area fall in the 5% most deprived in the country (Indices of Multiple Deprivation, 2004). Diversifying the area's economy, creating new jobs and tackling worklessness are critical issues for the AAP to address in order to create "prosperity for all" - one of the Council's key objectives.

3.8 Worklessness rates in the plan area are persistently high. While nearly 22% of the working age population claim workless benefits in Birmingham the rate rises to 28.7% in Aston Ward and 28.8% in Lozells and East Handsworth. In some Super Output Areas the rate is above 30% (DWP/NOMIS/ BIEC). In April 2007 the proportion of children dependent on workless benefits was 42% in Aston and 34% in Handsworth. The comparable figure for Birmingham is 32%, which is considerably higher than the regional and national rate of just under 20% (Annual Population Survey 2006).

Skills and education
3.9 Adult skill levels are well below the City average in the study area. In 2001, 44% of Aston Ward residents and 43% of Lozells and East Handsworth Ward residents aged 16-64 had no qualifications compared with 31% in Birmingham.

3.10 Educational attainment of pupils resident in the area has shown steady improvement over the last few years. The percentage of pupils resident within the following Wards achieved 5 or more GCSEs at A*- C Grades including English and Maths in 2009/10: Aston 49%, Handsworth Wood 67%, Lozells and East Handsworth 53%, Nechells 49%, and Perry Barr 61%, compared with the City average of 54.6%. The percentage of pupils achieving 2 or more passes at A Level equivalent in 2009/10 in Aston Ward was 100%, Handsworth Wood 96.75%, Lozells and East Handsworth 92.4%, Nechells 92.86%, Perry Barr 96.93%, compared with the City average of 94.3%. (Source: Department for Education).

Enhancing educational facilities
Enhancing educational facilities

Environment and sustainable development
3.11 Environmental quality across the plan area ranges from good to poor. The main issues are: poor air and noise quality associated with the major roads that run through the area; lack of access to quality wildlife sites evidenced by the designation of a major portion of the area as a Wildlife Action Area; low biodiversity value; lack of open space; poor water quality and potential contamination of underlying soils and groundwater on current and former industrial sites. Regeneration of the area will bring about a range of opportunities to improve the environment. In particular, there is potential for ecological enhancements, most notably along the River Tame.

3.12 The plan area contains a number of listed buildings, sites of archaeological importance and two Conservation Areas. In addition to designated sites, other buildings, streets and neighbourhoods of heritage and townscape value contribute to the area's local character. The plan promotes the protection and enhancement of the historic environment.

3.13 Sustainable development is a core principle in national, regional and local policy making. Sustainable development is the idea of ensuring a better quality of life for everyone, including future generations. This objective is at the heart of all the AAP policies and proposals.

Open space, playing fields and community facilities
3.14 There is a wide range of community centres, cultural centres, health centres, meeting halls, and places of worship that caters for the diverse interests and ethnic groups in the area. However, there is a lack of indoor and outdoor sports facilities. Playing field provision is only 0.32 hectares per 1000 population in Ladywood Constituency compared with the minimum UDP standard of 1.2 hectares per 1000 population. Public open space provision is also below the City standard of 2 hectares per 1000 population. Public consultation on the AAP revealed demand for protection and enhancement of green open space and more children's play areas and outdoor sports facilities for young people. The AAP attempts to address these issues and provide access to good quality, leisure and sports facilities, open space and green environments in order to encourage healthy lifestyles and improve access to biodiversity, as well as help to create sustainable neighbourhoods.

Local centres
3.15 As well as providing essential day-to-day facilities, local centres promote a sense of identity for local communities. There are three main centres in the plan area: Perry Barr, Witton Road and Lozells/ Villa Road. Perry Barr is a strong district centre but is showing signs of environmental decline. It has been identified in Birmingham's Core Strategy Consultation Draft as one of three "Growth Points" in the City. The planned growth and expansion of Perry Barr Centre is a major proposal in the AAP. A supporting framework for the Perry Barr/ Birchfield Centre and the A34 North Corridor has been prepared to provide further detail.

3.16 A handful of smaller local centres and shopping parades are located at Newtown, Wheeler Street, Upper Sutton Street and Aston Station. The policies and proposals in the AAP aim to protect and enhance the role of local centres.


Providing safe environments
Providing safe environments

Transport and connectivity
3.17 Two north-south roads (the A34 and A38) pass through the area, and offer good access from the north of Birmingham and the M6 to the City Centre. Traffic levels on these roads, in combination with their design, have severed communities on either side of the roads. Pedestrian subways, provided along the A34, are unpopular because they are perceived as being unsafe. However, it has proved difficult to provide acceptable alternative facilities on this route.

3.18 The pedestrian environment in existing local centres is generally poor, notably Perry Barr/Birchfield Centre. Within post-war residential areas, pedestrian links are not well-maintained and are poorly overlooked.

3.19 Bus access is generally good with the majority of the area being within 400 metres of a bus stop. Bus Showcase improvements have been implemented on the A34, A5127 and Outer Circle routes. Services are good in terms of frequency, price and journey time. However, services are focused on radial routes to and from the City Centre, whereas east-west routes, in particular to the proposed Regional Investment Site will need to be addressed through the Area Action Plan.

3.20 There are three railway stations close to the northern boundary of the plan, which are served by London Midland trains. Perry Barr and Witton stations are served by two trains per hour and the route into the City Centre is a lot longer than using the A34, resulting in a rail service that is only slightly faster than the more frequent bus service. Rail journeys between the City Centre and Perry Barr are made by passengers interchanging at New Street, whereas those that start/ finish in the City Centre generally travel by bus. Opportunity exists to enhance interchange facilities at Perry Barr, which serves Birmingham City University, through the proposals to enhance Perry Providing safe environments Barr/Birchfield Centre.

3.21 Aston Station is on both the Walsall Line and the Cross City Line and provides an opportunity for those changing trains to avoid doing so at New Street. The station is also the closest to the Regional Investment Site.

3.22 It is necessary to ensure that adequate transportation infrastructure is developed and that it maximises opportunities for access for all by public transport, walking, cycling and by car, and reduces both the need to travel and reliance on single occupancy car journeys.

Crime and safety
3.23 Crime and safety is a major concern in Aston, Newtown and Lozells. The MORI survey 2004/5 identified 11 priority Wards for crime reduction. Notably, all of the wards within the AAP area (except Perry Barr) are priority Wards. High levels of robbery, vehicle crime, and assault have been recorded in parts of the area and anti-social behaviour is a major concern.

3.24 However, the area has made strong progress in reducing crime levels in recent years, and the West Midlands Police "My Neighbourhood" website (November 2010) shows that crime decreased by 3% in Aston, 10% in Lozells and East Handsworth and 15% in Perry Barr Wards in the 12 months from December 2009 compared to a 2% increase in the West Midlands area.

3.25 Improvements to the physical environment can make a contribution to improving safety and security by applying principles of good urban design and encouraging development to meet the "Secure by Design 2" standard.

Vision

4.1 This Area Action Plan supports a regeneration process that will make Aston, Newtown and Lozells a location of choice by creating mixed, balanced and successful communities. The shared vision for Aston, Newtown and Lozells is:

  • A transformed housing market where choice and quality meet the needs of existing residents, and which attracts new residents and accommodates sustainable growth.
  • A successful economy where businesses can flourish and a range of jobs are accessible to local people.
  • A network of thriving local centres, open spaces and community facilities.
  • Well-connected, integrated and sustainable neighbourhoods.

4.2 The vision will be achieved by a co-ordinated approach to both physical and social regeneration. This plan sets out those interventions which relate to the use of land to support the regeneration programme.

4.3 Around 1,700 new homes will be built over the plan period, across the AAP area. Masterplans support the regeneration process in Newtown and Lozells, and Perry Barr where most of the housing intervention will take place.

4.4 Approximately 5,160 new jobs will be created, of which 3,000 will be as a result of the Regional Investment Site. The remainder will be generated from the expansion of Perry Barr/Birchfield Centre and other development on underutilised or derelict land.

4.5 A range of new community facilities, including the rebuild of Holte, Lozells and Mayfield schools, a £5m My Place Youth Centre, and an Extra Care Village for the Elderly are already underway.

4.6 The AAP proposes growth and expansion of Perry Barr/Birchfield Centre, in line with the Birmingham Core Strategy Consultation Draft. Development and enhancement of the A34 Corridor from New John Street West to Perry Barr Centre will help to strengthen the linkages between the communities as well as address the negative environmental impact of this major road.

4.7 Open space provision in the area is poor and, therefore, the Open Space Strategy supporting this AAP aims to ensure that existing green spaces are highquality, multi-functional and accessible. The strategy proposes a linked network of open spaces and "green links" from the main residential areas to the open spaces. The City's emerging Green Infrastructure Strategy will provide further information.

4.8 The AAP builds upon the excellent transport connections in the area by proposing improvements to public transport and walking and cycling facilities and focussing development on key transport corridors.

Area Action Plan

Transformational themes and objectives

5.1 The following objectives capture the long-term goals for the area and are grouped under six transformational themes:

a. Sustainable development and quality places - the creation of sustainable neighbourhoods that embody the principles of good urban design and sustainable development.

b. A successful economy - the improvement of employment opportunities, economic diversification, and business growth in the area and establishment of a Regional Investment Site (RIS) to attract regional, national and international investors.

c. Thriving local centres - the maintenance and enhancement of the network of local centres across the area and strengthening of Perry Barr/Birchfield Centre as a key commercial gateway.

d. Housing and neighbourhood quality - the development of well designed homes and sustainable neighbourhoods catering for a range of households and a network of high quality educational, sports, health and community facilities that are easily accessible.

e. Integrated and sustainable transport - the provision of safe and convenient routes by a choice of transport modes.

f. Environment and green space - the creation of a network of linked open spaces, playing fields and enhancement of heritage and biodiversity value.

Sustainable development and quality places

Objective 1
To establish sustainable neighbourhoods that embody the principles of good urban design and sustainable development to meet current and future social, economic and environmental needs in a balanced and integrated way.

Objective 2
To apply the principles of sustainable development at neighbourhood level and in the design of individual buildings and sites, and ensure that development addresses flood risk requirements and future climate change impacts.

Objective 3
To protect and enhance the historic environment, including archaeological remains, canals, and non-designated buildings and sites of heritage value, for the benefit of residents and visitors alike.

A successful economy

Objective 4
To develop a 20 hectare Regional Investment Site (RIS) which is attractive to regional, national and international investors in order to secure economic diversification, business growth and the creation of 3,000 jobs.

Objective 5
To ensure that employment opportunities are accessible to all and assist in securing the provision of employment and training opportunities for local residents.

Objective 6
To support a culture of enterprise, entrepreneurship, innovation and sustainable business growth.

Thriving local centres

Objective 7
To grow and enhance Perry Barr/ Birchfield Centre, strengthening the retail, office, leisure and housing offer. Improve the public transport facilities and radically enhance the pedestrian environment of the centre.

Objective 8
To continue to support the maintenance and enhancement of all local centres in the area.

Housing and neighbourhood quality

Objective 9
To deliver around 1,730 new dwellings (gross) to help meet existing and future housing needs.

Objective 10
To diversify the type, size and tenure of housing, including affordable housing to meet local community needs.

Objective 11
To improve the quality of the neighbourhood environment. Housing will be designed to the highest standards, and, where appropriate, to achieve Lifetime Homes Standard.

Objective 12
To ensure that all development provides safe and secure environments.

Objective 13
To support the transformation of educational facilities in the area and encourage school links with local businesses and residents for the benefit of the whole community.

Objective 14
To ensure that everyone has access to health, sports and community facilities of a high standard and within close proximity to where they live.

Integrated and sustainable transport

Objective 15
To provide safe and convenient routes by a choice of transport modes, secure appropriate investment in key public transport improvements and road infrastructure, and support the effective management of sustainable travel patterns.

Environment and green space

Objective 16
To establish a network of quality, connected green spaces and corridors across the plan area to enhance biodiversity, leisure and environmental value.

Objective 17
To ensure that the local area's natural and built environment is protected and enhanced, including addressing water quality issues for the River Tame, Hockley Brook, the Tame Valley Canal and the Birmingham and Fazeley Canal.

Thriving local centres
Thriving local centres

Relationship with other plans and policies

6.1 This AAP has not been prepared in isolation but within the context of a range of plans, policies and programmes which are fully listed in Appendix A. It is in general conformity with national planning policy guidance and the Birmingham Core Strategy Consultation Draft. It also supported the objectives of a number of programmes namely Urban Living. Aston Pride New Deal for Communities and the Working Neighbourhoods Fund (which all came to an end in March 2011).

6.2 Figure 2 shows the relationship between City-wide strategies in Birmingham and this AAP. In particular, the AAP supports Birmingham's Sustainable Community Strategy which sets out a high-level over-arching vision for Birmingham. The plan makes reference to the extant Birmingham Unitary Development Plan where the UDP policies and proposals are still up to date and relevant to the Plan. In other cases, references are made to the emerging Core Strategy where these emerging policies and proposals are relevant to the AAP.

6.3 The AAP is also supported by the following non-statutory documents which add detail to the policies and proposals in this plan:

  • Newtown Masterplan.
  • Lozells Masterplan.
  • Draft Framework for Perry Barr/ Birchfield Centre and A34 North Corridor.

6.4 The adopted UDP and the Birmingham Core Strategy Consultation Draft set out open space standards for the City and have informed the Open Space Strategy for Aston, Newtown and Lozells AAP (a separate supporting document). The Open Space Strategy also reflects and translates the Birmingham and Black Country Biodiversity Action Plan (2010) to a local level in the AAP.

6.5 Three related key public sector investment programmes supported this Plan:

  1. The Urban Living Housing Market Renewal Pathfinder invested £62.2m in the Birmingham part of the Pathfinder including the Aston, Newtown and Lozells area. Projects supported include: Pannel Croft Extra Care Scheme; new housing at Gerrards Close and North Newtown; sustainable refurbishment of Manton and Reynolds Towers; clearance and redevelopment of Birchfield Towers; Crocodile Works development, deconversion of large houses from flats to single family dwellings and retro-fitting of sustainable technologies to homes in Lozells; masterplanning; heritage and open space assessments and community cohesion programmes. As Urban Living came to an end in 2011, it is crucial that the AAP sets out the long term strategy for housing regeneration in this area and continues the work that has been started.
  2. Before abolition of the Building Schools for the Future (BSF) Programme, Birmingham had the largest BSF Programme in the country. Fortunately £140 million from the government has already been secured to redevelop ten sites in the City. This includes the rebuilding of Holte Secondary School (Lozells), Mayfield School (Handsworth) and Lozells School on one merged site and the refurbishment of Broadway School (Perry Bar). The BSF programme is an important element of the AAP as redevelopment of the schools necessitates reconfiguration of land uses in those areas. As well as the educational improvements being delivered through the programme, the local community will also benefit from the dual facilities provided by the schools, in particular life-long learning and sports opportunities.
  3. The Working Neighbourhoods Fund supported a programme aimed at tackling worklessness in the most deprived areas of Birmingham. A total investment of £5.9m was made in Ladywood Constituency engaging workless clients, moving clients towards work, bespoke employer-led training, job matching and post employment aftercare services.

6.6 Funding was also provided by Advantage West Midlands to invest in priority industrial sites in the Plan area.

FIGURE 2 Relationship with Other Plans and Programmes
FIGURE 2 Relationship with Other Plans and Programmes

How the AAP has been prepared

7.1 The AAP is the result of wide-ranging consultation with local residents, businesses, community organisations and other stakeholders.

7.2 The preparation of the AAP commenced in June 2005 with extensive consultation to find out what issues local people wanted to see addressed and what priorities were attached to them. Following this, in June 2007, consultation took place on a draft vision and objectives for the AAP, along with four spatial options for development. These were Option One: Do Minimum; Option Two: Little Change; Option Three: Substantial Change; and Option Four: Major Change.

7.2 The preparation of the AAP commenced in June 2005 with extensive consultation to find out what issues local people wanted to see addressed and what priorities were attached to them. Following this, in June 2007, consultation took place on a draft vision and objectives for the AAP, along with four spatial options for development. These were Option One: Do Minimum; Option Two: Little Change; Option Three: Substantial Change; and Option Four: Major Change.

7.4 References to the former Planning Policy Statements (PPS) and Planning Policy Guidance (PPG) in the Submission Document have been updated in this Adoption Document to refer to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) which came into force on the 27th March 2012. Nothing in the NPPF contradicts any of the policy references or conclusions in the Inspector's Report which referred to the previous PPSs and PPGs.

7.5 Consultation with local residents and key stakeholders has been a key part in the preparation of the plan. Throughout the process the aim has been to maximise opportunity for everyone to have a voice in the development of the AAP. During the course of the process, over 20,000 residents, businesses and other stakeholders were consulted. A wide variety of methods were used to engage with people and a detailed account of the consultation undertaken since 2005, and summaries of the responses received, are set out in the accompanying Consultation Statement.

7.6 An independent Sustainability Appraisal (SA) has also been prepared to ensure the AAP contributes to sustainable development. A Scoping Report was issued for consultation in September 2006 and a draft SA was subject to consultation at the same time as the Preferred Options Report. The final SA accompanies this Document.

7.7 This document is also informed by a robust evidence base and number of technical studies and supporting papers which are listed in Appendix B.

How the AAP has been prepared


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