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Battle cry to save ancient farmland from housing near Tewkesbury

By Gloucestershire Echo  |  Posted: November 06, 2013

Residents are unhappy about housing plans in Aston-on-Carrant

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PEOPLE living in Aston-on-Carrant, near Tewkesbury, have begun a battle to try to protect ancient farmland from being concreted over.

Ridge and furrow fields at the back of the Army Camp at Ashchurch have been earmarked for 601 houses by the district councils for Tewkesbury, Cheltenham and Gloucester.

Working together on housing allocations up to 2031, they have published their draft Joint Core Strategy (JCS). As part of that process, they have also earmarked housing sites for after that date.

Residents in and around Aston-on-Carrant have been horrified to discover that the ancient fields behind the Army Camp, which itself has been allocated 2,125 houses, is one of those sites.

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On top of concerns about the 601 houses worsening flooding problems and putting an extra strain on the already busy A46 through Ashchurch, villagers argue that the fields should be saved because of their historic value. Their undulating nature marks the remains of medieval strip fields.

Angela Brown, chairman of Ashchurch rural parish council, said: “It’s ancient Saxon ridge and furrow land. It’s part of the history of the country, you just can’t build over it.”

Aston-on-Carrant resident Chris Aplin said she and her husband Roger were shocked to find out about the proposal.

She said: “Previous proposals to develop this land have met with detailed feedback from the parish council and local residents giving much evidence as to why this should not go ahead, which has obviously been ignored. There is a very high water table in this area and any moderate rain during the winter months results in water lying on fields and on Aston Fields Lane.

“The farmland in question is historic ridge and furrow pasture.”

Another villager, David Neave, said he feared the rural atmosphere of the area could be ruined if it was “swamped by a large modern township development”.

He said development should be limited to the Army Camp site.

Villagers said they believed ridge and furrow land was protected in law but Tewkesbury Borough Council said this was not the case.

Holly Jones, of the JCS team, said: “The draft JCS proposes to allocate land at Ashchurch to provide for approximately 2,726 dwellings and 20 hectares of replacement employment land.

“Within the plan period, up to 2031, it is considered that only 2,125 of these homes can be realistically delivered alongside the 20 hectares of employment land.

“This means the remaining 601 homes are expected to be delivered beyond 2031. The reason for this is because we must wait for the MoD land at Ashchurch to be released and for any likely remediation work to take place.”

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