The proposals have been sympathetically designed to preserve and reinforce the separate identities of Polesworth, Dordon, Birchmoor and Tamworth, and whilst the proposed development will reduce the physical distance between the settlements, any perceived harm will be limited through carefully designed mitigation measures to maintain a functional and meaningful gap between them.
To the north and east of the development site, naturalistic earth mounds are proposed to be planted with native woodland species and interspersed with publicly accessible open parkland. These measures will both screen the existing developments currently visible along the A5 corridor as well as the new buildings that are being proposed.
To illustrate the way in which landscape and visual impacts will be mitigated, the following photographs show the proposed site from various viewpoints, with and without the proposed development.
Please note that the lines shown in the ‘proposed views’ only indicate the location of the buildings and not the maximum building heights and have been provided as a guide to the location of the buildings which cannot be seen through the proposed tree planting*.
*The trees shown in the viewpoint photographs below are shown at ‘semi-maturity’ (15 years from planting, at an estimated height of 10m only) in accordance with best practice. In reality, the trees will continue to grow in height beyond that shown as they reach full maturity.
Existing views looking south-west towards the site from PRoW AE46
Proposed views looking south-west towards the site from PRoW AE46
Existing views looking south-west towards the site from the edge of Dordon
Proposed views looking south-west towards the site from the edge of Dordon
Existing views looking south towards the site from the edge of Birchmoor
Proposed views looking south towards the site from the edge of Birchmoor
The south-west views shows that the existing and established vegetation in the foreground, in conjunction with proposed on and off site planting, would almost entirely screen the development (even if built out to the maximum building heights proposed).
It is worth noting that the eventual development could well be lower, in which case any visual impact would be reduced further.
Onsite landscape mitigation measures – in excess of 9 hectares (22.2 acres)
The proposals incorporate the creation of substantial landscaped buffer zones to the development site perimeter, as follows:
- North – an extensive landscape buffer to the north of the development plots extending to approximately 135m at its widest incorporating publicly accessible parkland, reducing to a minimum of 75m at the closest point to Birchmoor.
- East – a substantial landscape buffer to the east of Plot A1 extending to over 105m at its widest and reducing to c.50m in places, although for the majority of this part of the development extending to over 65m.
- South – a minimum 35m to the south of the development plots extending to at least 58m in the south-west corner of the site.
- West – a minimum 10m landscape buffer to the west of the development plots, where existing screening vegetation for the M42 motorway is extensive and mature and views into the site are less sensitive.
Onsite design measures to mitigate impact
The proposals incorporate earthworks plans to provide development plateaus that are mostly below existing ground levels, thus reducing the finished floor level and overall building heights. Excess material from this cut and fill exercise would then be incorporated within landscaped buffer zones to ensure there is no waste sent to landfill.
Areas closest to residential properties (plots A2, B1, B2) will be of reduced building height to ensure possible impacts in those potentially more sensitive locations are reduced.
At plot A1 in the south-west corner of the site along the A5 and opposite St Modwen’s Park (SMP), the maximum building heights would be restricted to that already approved at SMP.
Through the creation of naturalistic earth mounds in the landscaped buffer zones to the north, south and east of the developable area, the buildings will be largely screened from view and as the native woodland planting and screening matures, the whole of the site would eventually be almost entirely screened from sensitive locations at Birchmoor, Dordon and Polesworth and the public right of way network locally.
Offsite landscape mitigation and enhancements – in excess of 6.5 hectares (16 acres)
As the applicant owns the entirety of the open land between the M42 motorway and Polesworth and Dordon in this location, it has also been able to incorporate offsite landscape mitigation measures and enhancements across the width of the proposed Strategic Gap.
In total, some 6.51 hectares (16 acres) of off-site landscape mitigation measures and enhancements are proposed through tree planting and footpath enhancements, providing access to members of the public. The offsite measures would be secured in perpetuity through a legal agreement with the Council to prevent further expansion of development in those parts of the Strategic Gap.
The offsite landscape mitigation measures could also incorporate a new ‘community orchard’ and rural walkways next to Dordon and across the Strategic Gap, subject to the agreement of local residents.
High-Pressure Gas Main – A barrier to further expansion
It is also worth noting a high-pressure gas main runs along a north-south axis immediately to the east of the site, and that development cannot take place within the 78m inner consultation zone to either side of the pipe itself (156m in total). This acts as a hard barrier beyond which development pressure cannot translate into further expansion of this site in the future. This is a one-off development of the final quadrant at Junction 10 of the M42 motorway.