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JCS D-Day: Cheltenham Borough Council agrees to divisive housing plan, will now proceed

By jrmaidment  |  Posted: April 09, 2014

Comments (9)

A controversial housing plan has been rubberstamped by Cheltenham Borough Council.

It took the authority five hours of debate to reach a majority agreement with 18 votes in favour of the blueprint known as the joint core strategy (JCS) and 14 votes against.

Cheltenham was the last of three partner councils which have been working on the plan for more than five years to vote on whether or not to agree to its content.

Tewkesbury Borough Council ratified the plan on Monday evening while Gloucester City Council did the same on Tuesday night.

And Cheltenham’s decision to follow suit means the JCS can continue with one more round of consultation on whether or not the plan is sound before it is submitted to the Government for examination.

It sets out where 30,500 homes will be built across the three areas between 2011 and 2031.

However, while Tewkesbury and Gloucester agreed to the JCS without making any changes Cheltenham did undertake some tinkering.

The borough council inserted a cast iron commitment into the plan to revise the JCS housing figures once the latest data on population growth is published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) in the coming months.

Councillors also agreed to take advantage of the Government’s Local Green Space (LGS) designation tool “where appropriate” to stop some land from being developed.

The designation can be applied to pieces of land which are of “particular importance” to local communities.

The council will “evaluate the potential” of land, particularly sites in the north west of the town and in Leckhampton which have been earmarked for development in the plan, to see if some parts of them could be suitable for LGS protection.

An amendment put forward by Conservative and independent councillors to defer the vote on the JCS until the ONS publishes its new data and until traffic modelling mapping the impact of the planned developments is available was defeated.

The leader of the council, Councillor Steve Jordan (LD, All Saints), said the JCS is the “best option for Cheltenham” going forward.

He warned councillors that voting to scrap the plan could lead to a “developer free for all” because a council without a plan is a council with no defence against unwanted planning applications.

“We wouldn’t be able to protect pretty much anywhere,” he said.

However, not everyone agreed with Mr Jordan’s assessment.

Councillor Duncan Smith (C, Charlton Park) was savage in his criticism of the way in which the plan has been put together, accusing Cheltenham’s Liberal Democrat administration of “slopey shoulders and blame shifting”.

He urged all of his peers not to back the plan, but to no avail.

“If you have any conscience at all about the future of Cheltenham, and what is good for Cheltenham, you cannot vote for this plan,” he said.

The JCS will see 1,124 homes built on green fields at Leckhampton and 4,785 homes built on green belt land off Tewkesbury Road in north west Cheltenham.

Hundreds of homes will also be built on new sites in Innsworth, Churchdown, Brockworth and Ashchurch.

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  • DEvans  |  April 11 2014, 6:21PM

    i bet there is not enough parking, bike routes, places for recycling bin or any proposal to make each house have a food waste disposal unit or a bike shed etc tce welcome to tomorrows dump today.

  • YAScribbler  |  April 10 2014, 6:07PM

    Oops - got a bit impatient, posted twice. Sorry!

  • YAScribbler  |  April 10 2014, 5:38PM

    Affordable housing + Leckhampton postcode = er, I don't think so! Such a shame if this site is built on, it's a beautiful area - allotments and fields that are so well loved and provide an oasis of green space within an urban environment. Would be so sad to see it destroyed, especially when the arguments 'for' are contradictory at best.

  • YAScribbler  |  April 10 2014, 5:23PM

    The need is for more affordable housing and yet a Leckhampton postcode bumps house prices up by at least 10%...can't imagine why developers are desperate to get their mitts on that land! Such a beautiful area as well - fields and allotments teaming with wildlife, a real oasis of green space among the urban bustle. I really hope something can be done to save it, would be heartbreaking to see it destroyed, especially when the arguments 'for' seem contradictory at best.

  • justbecause  |  April 10 2014, 5:22PM

    Brownfields ARE being built on first across town, drive around with your eyes open, there are not many redundant brownfield sites within the town, that are not either in the planning process or being built on. You can't force people to sell land for housing, they have to want to, and it has to be commercially viable and we need a great deal of housing to satisfy demand than can be provided by brownfield regeneration. As much as it pains us, greenfield and greenbelt simply have to be built on. Profit is not a dirty word, there has to be profit in the job or who would build houses, or shops or factories? We all live in houses, and I dare say 50 years ago when the garden of the manor house that was the former site of my little semi-detached in Arle was built on there was drama from locals then. The built environment and green spaces around them have to change and play their role, even if some people don't like it, or where are our children going to live. Cant send them all to Bradley Stoke or Quedgeley can we?

  • Lince  |  April 10 2014, 3:27PM

    The airport is an obvious choice for many of these houses. Given its debts and the subsidies it clings on by its days are numbered anyway.

  • Matt1006  |  April 10 2014, 2:45PM

    Indeed. The developers don't want to have to foot the bill for demolitions / site decontamination etc, before they can actually start building houses. A nice clean green field returns a much better profit-per-plot, so will always be preferable development sites over brownfield sites. Short of Government intervention forcing the developers to use up suitable brownfield sites first, the bigger potential profits will attract the builders to the clean fields.

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  • dibblebibble  |  April 10 2014, 2:22PM

    @GlosterGal - because there is a lot more money to be made building on greenfield. A LOT MORE!

  • GlosterGal  |  April 10 2014, 12:45PM

    Why aren't brown fields being built on first?