RESIDENTS in a leafy suburb of Gloucester say the development of homes on green open space will “rip the heart out of their community.”
Land to the east of Hemptsted Lane which is owned by Christian charity the Sylvanus Lysons Trust has been earmarked for the potential development of 60 houses.
The trust wants to sell the land in order to raise more money for its charitable aims which has so far included a £45,000 donation to The Rock, a centre which offers activities to young people in Cheltenham.
Residents posed a number of questions to planning officials and trust representatives at a meeting chaired by city MP Richard Graham at the village hall tonight.
“It seems to me that we feel that selling the land for development is ripping the heart of our community,” said one man, who did not give his name.
“I would like to know from the Sylvanus Trust if this is the only solution to make ends meet or are you considering other options?
“I am just interested to know why you are living beyond your means and what have you done to make up the shortfall?”
Chairman of the trust Bernard Day disputed this and said: “We have a responsibility to increase our income for the purposes of the trust and it has not changed its fundamental purpose.
“We never live beyond our means and only give grants in a financial capacity.
“Half of the land will become public recreation space and only half will be used to build houses.”
An outline application for a maximum of 60 houses has been submitted to Gloucester City Council.
Many residents have campaigned against development in the village, claiming it has already reached its peak and that greenfield space to the east of Hampsted Lane should be preserved.
Dozens of residents attended a meeting with Anthony Hodge, head of regeneration at the city council, Bernard Day, Tim Partridge, the trust’s planning agent and Phil Staddon, an independent planning consultant.
Residents heard that a total of six sites in Hemptsted have been listed for the potential development of housing and employment space in the city plan, which may become part of the strategic development requirements of the county until 2013.
Mr Staddon told residents that he has been involved in 20,000 planning decisions in England and Wales and that he was at the meeting to give advice on how to make representations to council planners – whether for or against.
He said: “The application is in the public domain and you should be able to look at that on the council’s website.
“Don’t fire off letters straight away. Look at the planning policy, look at the documents and reflect on it before putting pen to paper.
“The key thing I would advise people to do is stick to the planning issues, and they are very wide.”