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Starvehall Farm planning application approved in Cheltenham

By jrmaidment  |  Posted: November 23, 2012

  • Starvehall Farm - picture by Bob Stark

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AN APPLICATION to build 300 homes on Starvehall Farm has been approved. 
More than 50 residents packed the public gallery as planning committee councillors met to debate the plans at the Municipal Offices last night. 
The chamber was divided on whether or not the proposals for Prestbury, which also include a link road, should be approved. 
But Cheltenham Borough Council officers advised the members keen to oppose the plans that the authority would struggle to defend such a decision if the application was taken to appeal. 
A number of councillors moved to refuse the controversial scheme but the bid was defeated by ten votes to four and the plans were passed as a result. 
The planning application, submitted by Gloucestershire County Council, was initially deferred last November when the applicant went away and tweaked the plans.
Campaigner Bob Stark spoke against the scheme.
He said: "We welcome the changes to this application but two issues remain: The loss of recreation land and the continued inclusion of the so called link road."
He added: "The proposals make it quite clear that the link road intends to be a bypass, not the leafy lane shown in the plans."
During the two and a half hour discussion Councillor Bernard Fisher (Swindon Village, LD) summed up the potential danger of refusing the application. 
He said: "If we decide to reject this scheme tonight it could involve giving the people of Cheltenham a large bill to fight it at appeal. 
"The county council might go away and think about it but they will come back. To think that we will get nothing built on Starvehall Farm is wrong."  

Mr Stark added today: "Last night's approval of this predatory development is most disappointing since it highlighted that the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) is indeed a "developer's charter" instructing local councils that the default decision is to find in favour of development applications.

"The protection supposedly offered to local communities by the Localism Bill is worthless in the face of the direction mandated by the NPPF

"We recognise that Prestbury must take its fair share of new housing, but it is wrong that this development removes 11 Acres of land used permissively for recreation for 20 years and includes a North South Cheltenham bypass (known as the link road).

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"As I said last night 'Who in their right mind would build a bypass through the middle of a densely packed new housing estate - the answer is people who will not have to live there!'."

Do you agree with the council's decision? Email jack.maidment@glosmedia.co.uk with your opinion. 

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  • Shireresident  |  November 25 2012, 3:36PM

    Once the Cleggster gets through his latest "relaxed" planning legislation council planning committees will be even more redundant than they are now so get used to it chaps. This begs the question regarding the value of District councils at all. Most of them have outsourced social housing to housing associations, if planning goes there will be very little left to justify separate organisations. Perhaps that's why there are rumblings from the coalition about unitary authorities again, something they seemed opposed to under the previous administration. Interesting times for local government I fear.

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  • Takeaway22  |  November 24 2012, 6:17PM

    A friend of mine whose house backs onto Starvehall Farm field was interviewed by the BBC about the forthcoming development BEFORE the latest meeting. The interviewer asked questions as if the decision had already been made. It appears that the development was approved behind closed doors before the meeting and the latest public meeting was just a sham. On a further note, with the latest rains that we have had in the past few days and the flooding that happened in Prestbury, this development can only worsen any future flooding that Prestbury will receive. Who will pick up the bill for Prestbury businesses and residents? As for the question of schooling, both Cleeve and Winchcombe school are both over-subscribed year in year out, I can only assume youngsters will attend Pittville School?

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  • agardener  |  November 24 2012, 1:16AM

    I was at the council meeting when the Starvehall planning application was voted through. The council advisors spent a lot of time talking about the 5 year housing plan and because of this the council could not object to the houses. The council states that local opinion was considered. That opinion being, houses on the farm land was acceptable, but please leave the recreation land for future generations. Once built on this land would be gone forever. The councillors chose to listen to the suits. They could not object because the planners would appeal and it would cost too much to defend an appeal. What is the point in having an elected council who are supposed to represent our views when it is clear that they just rubber stamp what the advisors say. Perhaps we could save taxpayers money by letting the advisors run the council as they already seem do and sack all the councillors. Councillors who voted for this application should hang their heads in shame. Residents of Cheltenham be warned, a housing development may come your way soon and there is nothing you can do about it.

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  • verysceptical  |  November 23 2012, 10:42PM

    I don't understand what the residents of Wha...sorry Prestbury are getting up in arms about. After all youve got your low rise tower blocks just down the road from "the nice bit" so its not like there is no precedent for new buildings. Also you might end up with a decent primary rather than one that deliberately makes it hard for residents to get into, all that lovely Section 106 money to pay for it. The developers will always win, they have better legal teams than even the biggest metropolitan boroughs.

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  • digby9  |  November 23 2012, 10:32PM

    An oasis of green in amid a predominantly urban area will be lost forever and the lovely view of the hills seen from New Barn Lane will now be obstructed by houses and flats. Everything's about profit isn't it. People's opinions don't matter. As long as there's money to be made, who cares.

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  • Madmermaid  |  November 23 2012, 9:17PM

    Are bungalows on the perimeter of the site, a cul-de-sac development and a safe substantial green area for community use too much to ask? It would seem so.

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  • johnstevens3  |  November 23 2012, 5:58PM

    At last the council as seen sense, this land should be used for much needed housing in Cheltenham, in stead of using it for a dog walkers toilet. Cheltenham needs to take its fair share of new build, why should Gloucester & Tewkesbury take the brunt of new housing just to keep a few NIMBY's happy in Cheltenham, now let's get em built in Leckhampton.

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  • FreeRadical1  |  November 23 2012, 5:00PM

    Presumably, TheNub doesn't want there to be any countryside left for us townies to use for recreation. I suppose some people just love concrete and tarmac, but some of us like to take walks in the country.

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  • TheNub  |  November 23 2012, 3:53PM

    lets have a few thousand houses built up leckhampton that will just about make my day .to pxxx off all the nimbys

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