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Developers appeal over Cheltenham homes

By This is Gloucestershire  |  Posted: January 06, 2010

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Developers are appealing against a decision to stop 1,000 houses being built between two villages on the outskirts of Cheltenham.

The scheme, which would see Bishop's Cleeve eat up Gotherington, was rejected by Tewkesbury Borough Council's planning committee before Christmas.

At the time, councillors said developers Comparo could not extend their masterplan without submitting another planning application first.

But now the organisation behind the scheme has launched an appeal to the Secretary of State for communities and local government, which has triggered a full planning inquiry.

If the decision is overturned, Comparo, which already owns the rights to build 450 homes north of Bishop's Cleeve, at Homelands Farm, could link the two settlements via a continuous stretch of land along Gotherington Lane.

Peter Richmond, borough councillor for Cleeve West, said: "The developers thought they could just extend the scheme without submitting another application. But it doesn't work like that. It seems they wanted to capitalise on the Regional Spatial Strategy's suggestion that there should be 1,000 houses between Gotherington and Bishop's Cleeve.

"But the escarpment there is where all the water comes off – it's a flooding hot-spot.

"We've also reached capacity in Bishop's Cleeve.

"Even if you were to put just the 450 homes here – with at least 1,000 people and their cars – it would place an unbearable strain on amenities."

Tewkesbury MP Laurence Robertson echoed his concerns.

He said: "I'm totally opposed to this.

"It's going to bring about a coalescence of the villages, when the vast majority of people in the area don't want it.

"The development would cause traffic problems, and problems with floods.

"I've taken photos of land that's very wet in that area.

"By taking up so much green space it would throw the water elsewhere. And we must remember that a lot of houses in Cleeve were flooded in 2007."

Proposals to build 1,800 houses on Homelands Farm were originally put forward by developer Taylor Wimpey in 1996.

Despite repeated attempts to gain planning permission, a series of planning applications for up to 1,800 homes were rejected by Tewkesbury Borough Council and Government inspectors.

In June 2007, the developer submitted new plans for the site, which were again rejected by the borough council.

But in February 2008, the area to the north of Bishop's Cleeve was earmarked for 1,000 new homes in the South West Regional Spatial Strategy.

The council withdrew its objections to the site days before a planning inquiry in March.

Hundreds of residents signed petitions against the plans and attended the inquiry, which went in favour of Taylor Wimpey.

The developer has since sold the building rights to Comparo.

A date for the latest inquiry has yet to be determined.

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  • Profile image for This is Gloucestershire
    Matt, Bishops Cleeve  |  February 08 2010, 9:47PM

    So so disapointed, it's one of my favourite places to go walking, or around it, and to see it from Nottingham hill surrounded by a concrete jungle would be devastating

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    Quasi, Cheltenham  |  January 06 2010, 5:30PM

    The developers dont care where they build, there is always some mug who will buy a nice new house. The insurance companies arent too fussed either, they will just refuse flood cover. That just leaves the mortgage suppliers who so long as they get their money every month arent bothered either. Most flooding now is caused by inadequate drainage caused by concreting over fields. This isnt called flooding by the developers, they like to refer to it as standing water. Call it what you like, its still running through your house.

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    Frank, Cheltenham  |  January 06 2010, 4:25PM

    I don't know about Longford, but people have been living on the flood plain at Tewkesbury for at least one thousand years. No doubt at some stage, some enterprising young man suggested the demolition of hundreds of riverside properties and the widening of the river. No doubt the planning committee of his day branded him an annoying upstart and went back to arguing about whether they should allow the buiding of pastiche medieval shacks or move on to wattle and daub. The point is that Tewkesbury is built with inadequate flood defences at the confluence of two rivers...is that replicated at Bishop's Cleeve? PS the developers are very clever people and fully understand that unless the insurers are happy, the properties will be un-mortgageable and hence unsellable.

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    Quasi, Cheltenham  |  January 06 2010, 1:20PM

    Flood plain arguments are a red herring says Frank. Obviously a man who lives on a hill. Maybe he would like to argue that point with the people of Tewkesbury or Longford.

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    Colin Roberts, Bishops Cleeve  |  January 06 2010, 12:15PM

    When the farmer at homelands farm dumped loads of old tyres and plastic on the fields owned by comparo they were not interested in the mess on their land. That's the sort of developer we in cleeve will have to put up with. The future development of the Village of Bishops Cleeve is a mess.

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    Frank, Chelteham  |  January 06 2010, 12:12PM

    A programme on the radio the other day referred to someone moving to Stoke Newington, "at that time a village some miles from London." The population of the UK and the world is increasing and every one of these campaigns is saying please put it somewhere else...we don't want it. Many of these protesters will live in houses built in the last fifty years on the edge of the countryside. They have the fields and footpaths nearby and don't want a bunch of newcomers to spoil the view. Is anyone else old enough to remember the BBC TV programme set in East Anglia called "The Newcomers" and starrring a very young Wendy Richard? That programme went out in the sixties because there was real ill-feeling between people moved out from London and the turnip taliban amongst the locals. Flood plain arguments are a total red herring. Most of our major cities are built on flood plains and the appropriate engineering is tried and tested. Ultimately this all boils down to the future of this locality/region. There are very strong local reactionary elements in all the political parties and they will curry favour with the electorate. No-one actually has the courage to start talking about expansion, schools, job opportunities,not just for the construction industry but for the entire business and manufacturing sectors. Given the local hostility, would you as an MD of a major company propose building a new facility in this part of the world? For a start, you have to sort out the nonsense of Tewkesbury being responsible for what is really much of Cheltenham. And as for the planning committees, they can barely muster an "O" Level between them. Only in England could they end up with so much power. The planning inspectorate also think everyone is impressed by their sheer brilliance because they take so long to think of an answer and produce volumes to justify their decision. The truth is it is a subjective decision based on the particular inspector involved or surely we could have all worked out the answer before for ourselves?

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    Matt H, Cheltenham  |  January 06 2010, 11:19AM

    Well, it was inevitable that an appeal would be lodged, following the refusal of the Planning application by TBC. Sounds like this one could get messy. Which will mean the costs of the appeal will be higher. Which the good Council Tax payers in the TBC catchment are will end up paying, if the developer wins the appeal..... This area has a long history of refused planning applications & appeals, but is included in the RSS - which is still only in draft format, and strongly contested..... To quote Harry Hill - FIGHT...!!!

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    Quasi, Cheltenham  |  January 06 2010, 10:46AM

    They are determoined to build here arent they. So determined in fact that there have been plans for the development drawn up where the three streams that run through the site are omitted. Maybe they think by doing that it will stop the area flooding, flooding that will be hugely exacerbated by building all these extra houses. Still, I suppose as the architects and housing developers wont be living there why should they worry about it.

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    mforester, cheltenham  |  January 06 2010, 10:21AM

    This scheme is madness, head shaking jaw dropping madness. Bishops Cleeve is overdeveloped as it is, barely any parking spaces not owned by Tescos. The lane involved for the development is a narrow country lane. There was an enquiry which cavelled and wriggled which originally approved the scheme, to the local populations despair. If they go ahead it will require several shops, two more pubs, road widening, extra roads, flood managent, the whole works... Absurd.