Stroud District Council: Regeneration of a brownfield site in the industrial heritage conservation area at Brimscombe Port
Brimscombe Port’s regeneration is important to the whole redevelopment of the valley, and will be transformational to the district in economic, social and environmental terms, acting as a catalyst for other development along the canal. It creates a destination for canal tourism, not only for the local canal network but also for the whole canal system, a nationally important landmark.
The vision is to deliver a sustainable, residential-led mixed use new community that meets the needs of both existing and future residents. By responding to the site’s unique characteristics with innovative and inspiring design, the council aspires to create an exemplar scheme that integrates with the existing surroundings and expands upon the site’s constraints and opportunities to enhance the residents’ daily lives. The scheme will respond to the district’s post-COVID-19 economic recovery strategy and its ambition to be carbon neutral by 2030. To realise its vision, rather than dispose of the site to a developer, members approved a delivery strategy which sought to procure a developer partner through a competitive dialogue process to work with the council to deliver the scheme rather than dispose of the site to the highest bidder.
The site is in the council’s local plan, allocated for 150 homes and is identified as land within the industrial heritage conservation area, being of significant cultural and historical value. It comprises part of the reinstated canal and basin and so is unable to be developed for a non‐canal related scheme. The industrial estate is dilapidated with a legacy of contamination following the tipping of waste into the old canal and basin. The reinstatement of the canal and basin is required for flood alleviation measures to enable any scheme to be delivered.
The council allocated £2.6 million to de-risk the project by obtaining planning permission for the complicated engineering infrastructure required to take the site out of the flood plain. This comprised a new access road, canal and basin, road and bridge works, river, and canal crossing, all of which required hydrological modelling and liaison with the Environment Agency. In addition, ecology reports were commissioned, extensive surveys carried out and bids successfully made to Homes England and One Public Estate’s Land Release Fund for public funding to address the viability of the site.
The scheme needed to include the provision of community facilities and commercial space to ensure that the development was not just a housing estate at the end of the canal but a vibrant destination and inclusive community. The tender evaluation matrix was also weighted heavily towards quality and design. The scheme once complete will provide a new sustainable waterside destination and community that will benefit the new residents, the residents that surround the port, the commercial tenants of the retained listed mill building, the local and wider community, and canal users.
Once complete it will deliver 152 new energy efficient homes (with 30% affordable), commercial facilities, community facilities for the new and wider community, a new canal and basin with residential moorings in the basin, increased biodiversity and public realm for residents and visitors. The public subsidy for the project is £5.8 million, together with private investment in the order of £47 million.