The next steps of Bath & North East Somerset Council's plans to significantly upgrade Radstock's road network in order to tackle traffic congestion and support the regeneration of the local economy have been announced.
The town's road system needs upgrading first to help reduce traffic congestion and pave the way for the additional homes and shops.
Councillor Paul Crossley (Lib-Dem, Southdown), Leader of Council, said, "There are clear steps that Bath & North East Somerset Council will be taking with our partners to get the regeneration of Radstock moving. Starting with the relocation of the Oak tree, we will obtain the necessary planning consents to deliver the road network upgrade and new homes that the town urgently needs. We've listened closely to the local community every step of the way in both the development of the road plans and the relocation of the tree.
"The improvements are part of the Council's wider plan to breathe new life into one of our area's most historic market towns which also includes bringing Victoria Hall back into use and targeting the £500,000 regeneration pot earmarked by the Cabinet as effectively as possible."
Step 1: Relocating the Oak tree
The oak tree must be removed for the road upgrade to proceed. The Council respects the historical connection the community has with the tree, and especially the friends and family of Colin Latchem. Councillors have worked closely with the family to identify a suitable site for the tree to be relocated.
Starting Monday 3rd December, preparatory work to relocate the tree to Writhlington School will begin. It is anticipated that the relocation will be complete by Tuesday 11th December 2012. This is the best time to move the tree in order to give it the greatest possible chance of survival in a location where people are committed to looking after it. Cuttings and acorns from the existing tree are being cultivated at Writhlington School and Norton Radstock College
Karen Emery, sister of Colin Latchem, said, "The oak tree's survival and wellbeing has been my priority since the loss of my brother in 1997. The tree became a living tribute to Colin and is extremely precious to us all. We have worked closely with the Council and its tree specialists, Norton Radstock College, and Writhlington School to save the tree and give it the best possible chance of survival. If we want to give the tree the optimum chance of relocation and indeed a healthy future, we need to take action now, whilst dormant for the winter.
"Whatever the future holds for Radstock, seeing the oak tree survive and giving it the chance to grow into the magnificent tree that it was intended to become when planted, will always be something worth fighting for."
In addition, the Council has donated a new oak tree to Radstock which will be planted in the green open space near the Council car park on Waterloo Road at 12.30pm on 1st December 2012.
Step 2: Updating the planning permission
In response to local consultation, the Council made significant changes to design of the proposed road network. This has resulted in the need for the planning application to be updated to reflect the changes. The Council anticipates submitting an updated planning application in April 2013. This application for outline planning consent will include the detail of the road scheme and pave the way for reserved matters applications for the housing and town centre development.
Clive Wiltshire, Managing Director of Linden Homes South West, said, "Linden Homes welcomes being a part of the team delivering meaningful regeneration in the centre of Radstock. We have a proven track record of creating places that people want to live and work, and we are committed to delivering much needed new homes and jobs in the town. We will be looking to submit reserved matters consent for the first two phases of development once the outline planning consent is in place."
Subject to the outline planning consent being secured, work on the road network upgrade would begin in Autumn 2013.
Step 3: Working with our partners and residents
The Leader of Council will take a place on the NRR Board as a sign of the Cabinet's commitment to getting the regeneration of the town going.
Welcoming this development, Cate Le Grice-Mack, speaking for NRR said, "Our development is an important part of the total approach to the restoration of Radstock as busy and positive place for people to live and work. While the road scheme will help to move traffic more easily, we will make sure that the 48% of our site earmarked for green space, walking, cycling will enable people to move more easily within the town. And just to reassure people - the railway will not be disconnected, and light rail is still an option for those who wish to see it happen."
There will be an information event in Spring 2013 prior to the outline planning consent application being submitted.
People can find out more about the road scheme at www.bathnes.gov.uk/regenradstock
Any project updates will be issued via Twitter – follow @bathnes or search for #regenradstock
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