A divisive housing plan has been given the green light by Tewkesbury Borough Council.
After a fiery and occasionally ill-tempered meeting councillors voted by 18 to 15 to ratify the joint core strategy (JCS) which will see 30,500 homes built across Tewkesbury, Cheltenham and Gloucester between 2011 and 2031.
Tewkesbury’s plan partners, Gloucester City Council and Cheltenham Borough Council, are due to vote on the JCS tomorrow evening and Wednesday afternoon, respectively.
It took Tewkesbury more than four hours to reach agreement - and it was far from plain sailing.
Opposition councillors tried and failed to make changes to the final version of the plan, but they were repeatedly thwarted by the Conservative administration’s greater numbers.
The first amendment, put by independent councillors, called for a large site at Ashchurch, land which is currently occupied by the MOD, to be deleted from the JCS with its housing allocation of 2,125 homes to be re-allocated to Highnam.
The amendment was defeated 20 votes to 14.
Meanwhile, the second amendment came from the Liberal Democrats.
They called for the homes planned for a site in South Churchdown, 868 in total, to be deleted from the plan, for the houses earmarked at North Brockworth to be halved from 1,500 to 750 and for 825 homes to be built at Twigworth – a site previously removed from the JCS.
They also called for 800 homes to be built at Highnam.
The amendment was lost 20 to 14.
Having seen their amendment defeated, the Lib Dems then put a motion to try and defer the JCS vote until new figures on population projections are published by the Office for National Statistics and until Stroud District Council’s housing plan is fully examined.
It too was lost 20 to 14.
Finally, councillors were asked whether or not they wanted to formally rubberstamp the JCS with 18 voting yes and 15 voting no.
One Conservative voted against the plan, while another opted to abstain.
Councillor Derek Davies (C, Highnam and Haw Bridge), lead member for built environment at the authority, described the JCS debate as a case of “haves versus have nots” and “evidence versus ignorance”.
He said: “It is imperative that we have a plan in place if we are to prevent ad-hoc development and to be able to plan positively for the future.
“It is important.”
Liberal Democrats said the JCS in its current guise will have “catastrophic” consequences for some communities.
They also attacked the Conservative administration, and the council leader, Robert Vines, for their handling of the plan, with Councillor Vince Perez (LD, Brockworth) stating he felt “sorely let down” by Mr Vines.
He said: “We should have had a fair plan, palatable to all, something that we could have taken pride in.”
If Gloucester and Cheltenham councils follow Tewkesbury’s lead and vote to agree the JCS it will then be put out for one final round of consultation before being put before the Secretary of State to examine.
If one of the authorities rejects the plan all three will have to go back to the drawing board.