A public consultation on the Stafford Station Footbridge project ends on Thursday and once responses have been taken into account, the master plan will be submitted to the borough council for final approval.
A number of Stafford residents have wondered how the proposals will affect existing environmental assets such as the balancing basin at the junction of Kingsway and Martin Drive. And others have raised concerns about the density of development and the number and type of new homes on offer.
Neil Thomas, who took part in the award-winning community effort to improve the pond area for local wildlife, said the general idea was good, but the details had to be right. He added that the number of accommodation offered was far too high.
He said: “The proposals for the Marling Terrace area show two blocks of flats being built on the balancing pond area. These unnecessary proposals are clearly detrimental to wildlife value and should be removed.
“The whole balancing pond site is owned by Stafford Borough Council. The council’s failure to declare it a local nature reserve is an outrage.
Netta Cartwright said: “I am not fundamentally against the whole general idea and parts of the vision set out in the consultation document. However, I am disappointed that the draft plan as it currently stands would waste a unique opportunity for Stafford to permanently redevelop the land around the railway line and to the north.
“Implementation of the vision and ideas should be to provide housing, employment, land and recreational space while retaining the immense current value the land already has for bio-diverse wildlife and potentially even more . The density of real estate development should be significantly reduced.
“The style of housing pictured is not suitable for a mid sized market town like Stafford with its own character. It is more suited to a built up town.
“Apartment buildings should be removed from the program as they will harm the bio-diverse wildlife around the pond/lake. Under the current proposals the pond/lake area will become completely isolated and its thin wildlife corridor and its links to the wider environment will be lost.
The Castletown and Virginia Park Residents Association said: “The Balancing Pond has grown organically over a long period of time and is a haven for wildlife and nature. It serves the local community as an oasis of calm and relative seclusion, which is rare today, away from busy roads and is of great benefit to people’s mental well-being.
“The density of the proposed development is overwhelming and dominates not only the ground level, but also the skyline. References to “green and blue assets” simply underscore the fact that this is a business plan with little or no consideration for the natural world and the importance of green spaces to the mental and physical health of secondary residents.
“The former cricket ground should be handed over to the community and, under the guidance of the Staffordshire Wildlife Trust, allowed to be turned into a nature reserve. The former rugby ground should become an eco-hub/community garden and promote a self-reliant neighborhood.
“There is a risk that the project, as conceived as a stand-alone development comprising a mix of residential services, jobs, retail and leisure, will only serve to further undermine a town center clearly showing significant signs of stress. vacancy levels in the city center already exceed 30%, with a significant proportion of these vacancies occurring in the area to the north of the city along Gaolgate Street and including the Sheridan Centre.
“In many ways, the current gateway scheme, which combines housing, employment, office and retail, would be ideally suited to the complete redevelopment of this north end town center area. We would welcome more clarity on the role this proposed gateway should play in contributing to the regeneration of the existing city centre. »
Stafford Borough Council is bidding for nearly £20m from the Government’s Leveling Fund for Ambitious Plans. Senior advisers, including Staffordshire County Council Deputy Leader Philip White, have welcomed plans to attract more investment and opportunity to the county town.
He said: “The Stafford Gateway project is hugely important in the ongoing regeneration of the town centre, capitalizing on the improved connectivity to the station that HS2 will bring. New commercial and residential developments will make the county town an even better place to live, work and visit, as well as providing more job opportunities.
“This will complement the work we have done, together with Stafford Borough Council, which includes Stafford West Access Road, Shire Hall Business Center and Eastgate area regeneration plans. We look forward to seeing the progress of the project and urge people to have their say on the master plan during this consultation period.
Frances Beatty, Stafford Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Economic Development and Planning, said: “The growth and prosperity of our borough is a key priority for council and we have attracted huge investment into our region by working closely with our partners. The financial support we have received is a testament to the confidence the government has in us to deliver major developments such as the Stafford Station Footbridge project.
“This underutilized area will see the birth of a new community, with quality homes where people will want to live, as well as a business-friendly environment and leisure facilities, sitting on the doorstep of our station which will be a huge attraction for potential investors. The Station Gateway program is another piece of the Stafford heart transformation puzzle.