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.
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."