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Housing blueprint for 33,000 new homes in Gloucestershire 'on verge of collapse'

By The Citizen  |  Posted: March 07, 2014

  • CONCERN: Flooded fields at Longford, Gloucester, near where major house building is planned.

  • VOCAL: Planning minister Nick Boles.

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A HOUSING plan more than five years in the making could be on the verge of collapse.

Cheltenham, Tewkesbury and Gloucester have been working on a development blueprint since 2008 which in its current guise will guide where more than 33,000 homes will be built between 2011 and 2031.

But the future of the plan, called the Joint Core Strategy (JCS), is now in doubt after a Government planning policy grenade yesterday.

The Planning Minister Nick Boles announced a set of new guidelines that councils will have to follow and chief among them is a reaffirmed emphasis on protecting the green belt from development.

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He said the need to build houses is "unlikely to outweigh" harm to the green belt when it comes to trying to justify "inappropriate development".

But building on green belt land is at the heart of the JCS with six of nine large new sites earmarked for housing currently designated with the protection.

Mr Boles also stressed that while councils do have to try to work together on a housing plan, that does not mean one authority can "undermine green belt protection" and "dump development on their neighbours' doorstep".

As it stands, the JCS would see more than half of the planned homes built on land technically within Tewkesbury Borough.

Tewkesbury MP Laurence Robertson believes the Government announcement "could be the end" of the JCS.

"This guidance from the Government makes it very clear that there should not be any development on the green belt," he said.

"As a result, I firmly believe the JCS will now need to be drastically altered.

"Tewkesbury Borough's assessed housing need for the plan period is 10,100, yet they are being asked to take 18,900 in order to accommodate some of Cheltenham and Gloucester's assessed need. However, this new guidance makes it clear that, when these extra houses would be built on green belt land, they do not need to agree do this.

"The councils will have to reassess the plan and find new sites for the homes or Tewkesbury could opt to do its own plan."

Andrew North, Chair of the JCS programme board putting the housing plan together, said: "The three councils now need to fully assess this new information and understand the potential implications this may have on the Joint Core Strategy."

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4 comments

  • jas37  |  March 08 2014, 10:11PM

    - North Glos EPC. Surely if you have done your research you will be aware that water appropriate water catchment areas accompanying proposed Housing developments at Longford could considerably reduce (and improve on the current situation) any future flooding at Longford. Or does mentioning this fact not suit your agenda?

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  • Glosislovely  |  March 07 2014, 11:35PM

    Good, lets celebrate, we still get to keep some of our countryside.

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  • Kay_Powell  |  March 07 2014, 4:45PM

    Ah, but what about the green belt land at Brockworth that isn't in a floodplain. Is that still going to be built on? I'm against that as well.

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  • North Glos EPC  |  March 07 2014, 9:59AM

    At last a glimmer of common sense, at last some realization that the Joint Core Strategy proposing to build on Green Belt in Flood plain is a work of total and utter lunacy. I feel for people who's homes were flooded this Winter but perhaps just perhaps something positive will come out of it. Perhaps the penny will drop and as the Prime minister said when he visited Longford lessons really will be learnt? I'd suggest that rather than pluck arbitrary numbers out of the air a long hard review is made of real housing need and that development takes place away from Green Belt, flood plain and flood prone areas. Take this approach nationally and just think how much flood defense money could be saved, defenses we have seen which don't always work anyway, and just think how many schools and hospitals could be built with that money instead. Having said that people already at risk because of previous planning policy stupidity need help defending their homes but that won't cost anything like as much. Throw out the JCS, throw it as far as you can, and start a serious common sense rethink, which I suggest should include the notion that the Gloucester, Cheltenham, Tewkesbury area might not have sufficient "suitable sites" for quite so many homes as some grand plan wants to force down our throats.

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  • SandraPee  |  March 07 2014, 8:27AM

    Common sense should dictate that no new homes should be built on or near a floodplain, and plans should be put in place immediately towards ensuring that work goes ahead to protect those properties which are always at risk of flooding , especially any listed buildings,as they need specialist preventative measures . We must learn from the lessons of the past three months.

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