March 2008


Not before time! Here’s a poster if you’d like to download and print it yourself.

Click on the image below the download the poster.

poster.jpg

Here’s an updated poster for Swindon Village (note that the proposed development around Swindon Village is on current greenbelt land though this doesn’t mean that we prefer development on non-greenbelt land which is equally worth saving):

stcposter_23_4_08_large1

Cheltenham Liberal Democrats have just published their detailed manifesto for the May elections. You can view it here:

Cheltenham Lib Dems Manifesto

Pages 8-10 and 12-13 explain in some detail their opposition to the RSS targets and greenbelt development, in the context of our wider vision for Cheltenham.

Here’s a flooding map produced by the Environment agency in March 2007 showing the likely result of a 1/100 year flood we had the bad july floods. Of course, the 1/100 year could happen anytime. Its been overlaid with the early sketch master plan. Note that since then the Environment Agency has updated its models due to last July flooding, this model may also include the extra run-off caused by concreting over such a large area – unfortunately this model isn’t yet available to the public. Click on map below to display it full size.

Flooding map

© Environment Agency copyright and/or database right 2008. All rights reserved

The following document is a briefing document for Gloucester County Councillors prepared by SWARD in January 2006. It details the hazardous waste disposal activities taking place at Wingmoor Farm. Would you want to live next to this?

Briefing for Gloucestershire County Councillors

Many thanks to everyone who has signed the petition opposing the urban extension. So far, we have collected 680 signatures, which is an extremely impressive total. On Monday, 17th March, the campaign was taken to the council chamber where borough councillor Paul Massey presented the petition to the Mayor of Cheltenham, Cllr. John Rawson.

Presenting Petition
From left to right – local campaigner Bernie Fisher, Mayor of Cheltenham
Cllr. John Rawson, Cllr. Paul Massey

Success in the campaign, several councillors worked hard to get the following motion passed by the Council:

“This Council notes the intention in the draft Regional Spatial Strategy to impose a target of 12,500 extra homes on the Cheltenham area up to 2026, including a proposed urban extension of 4,000 homes between Swindon Village and Uckington. It also notes the recommendation of the examining panel to increase the target to 13,800 homes in the Cheltenham area, including 5,000 homes in the urban extension.

This Council notes that the Council’s recent expression of interest in growth points status may, if accepted by the Government, require these housing targets to be met by 2016 rather than 2026.

This Council:

  • Reaffirms its opposition to the RSS figures as expressed in its submission to the EIP.
  • Recognises the need for additional affordable housing in Cheltenham.
  • Resolves to debate the full detail of any potential bid for growth point status before such a bid is made to Government
  • Resolves to debate the recommendations of the Secretary of State due for consultation in the summer of 2008 and to submit comments and objections on behalf of the people of Cheltenham
  • Calls upon the Secretary of State, when framing her recommendations for consultation, to commit the Government to fully funding the infrastructure costs of her proposals
  • Acknowledges that in the best interests of the people of Cheltenham, this council needs to be able to deliver any development that is forced on this town in a planned and co-ordinated manner
  • Affirms its opposition to the proposed urban extension to the North West of Cheltenham”

It is understood that whilst this is a great success, the original motion was watered down somewhat by the Conservatives and no longer commits the council to lobbying the South-West Goverment.

In December 2007 the council voted on a motion opposing “Growth Points”. See here how councillors voted. The vote is recorded at the bottom of page 41 and the top of page 42.

To summarise how the political groups voted:

  • All Lib Dem councillors voted for the motion (i.e. against the growth points bid)
  • Almost all the Conservatives voted against the motion (i.e. supporting growth points). The honourable exception was Cllr. Robin MacDonald, who abstained.
  • For the PABs, Peter Allen voted with the Lib Dems, but all the other PABs supported the Conservatives.

Its understandable that the Conservatives opposed the motion, given that they signed the Council up to the Growth Points expression of interest in the first place, but unfortunately if it hadn’t be for the PAB attitude the vote would have been won and the Council would have disassociated itself from the Growth Points bid.

Bloor and Persimmon Homes (the house builders behind this development) will need to build zero-carbon homes after 2016 (when most houses in this development will be built) and significantly reduced carbon emission homes before this. Given this recent report can we believe they can meet these targets?:

Click here to see the report from the Housing Corporation (look at the executive summary for a quick look).

Heres a list of current members of Cheltenham Borough Council as of 14 March 2008.
From the Council website here

 
Here is a report just published by the Cheltenham Centre for Change. It discusses the challenges for Cheltenham in the future considering climate change and the rising price of oil. Its something we all need to consider, but it is particularly relevant when considering impact on future growth plans.
Please read Part 4 – Current Government Strategy towards Growth and Development. This covers the Government thinking behind the RSS in simple language.

The Impact of Climate Change and Peak Oil in Cheltenham

The Swindon Parish Council resolves:

.        that it should inform the Secretary of State for Environment, Food
and Rural Affairs that it considers that the acceptance of the South West
Region Spatial Strategy would be premature  until the Pitt Review: ‘Learning
Lessons from the 2007 Floods’ is published and its recommendations and
conclusions have been responded to by the Environmental Agency;

.        that the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
should ensure that the Environment Agency responses have been put into place
and the impact of development in the area from which flooding has occurred
and is predicted to occur within the next 100 years should be measurable
using the latest tools which themselves have been revised since the  floods
of 2007;

.        that the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
should resolve to protect the Green Belt around Cheltenham from any breaches
– this is important having regard to the limitation of urban sprawl and
particularly so on this small Green Belt which cannot withstand boundary
variation without, in turn, a breach of the boundary.

Gloucestershire Echo have published an article on last Fridays Public Meeting at the council offices where Martin Horwood MP and Mark Calway (representing Laurence Robertson MP) attended. The article title is “Save The Countryside from New Houses”. See the online edition here:

the article

You can publish your own comments on the website. Please do.

The proposed area of house building is below:

Site location

An early sketch master plan (subject to change) – click to enlarge:
(note that this plan was produced before upping the housing targets by 1000 houses)

Masterplan

You can view these documents, plus many more here at Cheltenham Councils website.

The meeting on Friday night was attended by 75 people, and a number of ideas came out of it. It is clear that both the MPs are very opposed to the RSS. We need to work to make sure that local Council’s are.
  1. MPs on an all Gloucestershire level to coordinate opposition to RSS – JW to write letter to Martin Horwood et al thanking him for attendance on Friday to initiate this.
  2. Council’s to think about referendum or poll on the issue.
  3. ‘Save the Countryside’ to to register where people stand on the RSS issue and current major housing proposals
  4. During the period after the Sec of State has published the final RSS for public consultation – a series of activities to be organised by ‘Save the Countryside’. This to be major item on the agenda of the next meeting.
  5. All Local Authorities to be pressed to take a stance against RSS.
  6. One of the demands is that Ministers must take into account the Pitt report on flooding before decisions are made.
  • Our next meeting is on 23rd April at 6.00pm at the Municipal Offices Cheltenham
  • On 17th March at CBC Council meeting (2.30pm Municipal Offices) a motion will be put to the Council opposing the RSS. Officers are deadly opposed to this and are making dire threats against us.
  • On 25th March Swindon Village Parish Assembly will meet to discuss the issue.
  • People to continue lobbying Councillors (especially in Tewkesbury), collecting petitions, delivering leaflets etc. In particular, to refer people to the website ‘www.savethecountryside.org.uk
  • Elections are coming up in Cheltenham and candidates need to be put on the spot regarding where they stand on this issue.
CPRE colour logo - small
From Laura Jansen, CPRE Campaigns Team
7th March 2008
Hello

We’ve just launched a public campaign and your help is needed to fight against 3 million houses being built.

Are 3 million new homes necessary?
The Government has predicted that by 2020 we must build 3 million new homes. We feel it’s better to plan for homes we need, rather than the numbers we might need.

Your help is needed to persuade the Government to rethink their housing plans and prevent the loss of precious countryside.

Just how did the Government decide we must build 3 million new homes? We have an email on our website that’s all ready for you to send.
> Please email the Housing Minister

If you are not familiar with all the activities going on at Wingmoor Farm, I recommend you visit www.swardbishopscleeve.co.uk, and in particular – Local waste sites- which will give you some idea what is going on over there.

If you, like us, live within 1/2 km of the site it is very worrying. We have been actively attending the liaison and protest meetings for a few years.
We have had horrendous problems with flies, and all through the summer we liaise with CORY/DEFRA who come weekly to analysize our flies.

Since last September, we have had awful problems with the LANDFILL GAS, and only this morning I rang the Environment Agency because it was so bad.(The representative from Swindon Village assures us that they do no smell the gas there) People in Prestbury and Brockhampton can, and we’ve smelt it right into Cheltenham.

This Council notes the intention in the draft Regional Spatial Strategy to impose a target of 12,500 extra homes on the Cheltenham area up to 2026, including a proposed “urban extension” of 4,000 houses between Swindon Village and Uckington. It also notes the recommendation of the examining panel to increase the target to 13,800 homes in the Cheltenham area, including 5,000 homes in the “urban extension”.

This Council notes that the Council’s recent expression of interest in “growth points” status would, if accepted by the Government, require these housing targets to be met by 2016 rather than 2026.

As such, this Council:

  • Pledges itself to oppose the RSS figures
  • Supports those opposed to the urban extension
  • Instructs our officers to resist these plans, and commends members to do likewise.
  • Resolves to object to the panel recommendations for an increase in housing should the Secretary of State be minded to accept them, and
  • Agrees to make the views of the Council known to the RDA and Government.

Proposed by Cllr John Webster.

Seconded by Cllr Steve Jordan

Please sign the petition to “Stop the Urban Extensions” and help by asking others to sign it too. Download the following document print it out.

petition.doc

petition.pdf

Please post it back to “Save The Countryside” c/o 14 Clarence Walk; Cheltenham; GL50 3RG

Can the cabinet member list the land holdings of the County Council in the Cheltenham Borough ward of Swindon Village and the Tewkesbury Borough ward of Coombe Hill?

Land holdings of the County Council in the Cheltenham Borough Ward of Swindon Village:

Site

Function

Hectares

Swindon Village Primary School

Foundation School

1.35

Land Strip In Tewkesbury Road

Land Taken Into Highway

0.00

Tewkesbury Road Land Fronting

Land Taken Into Highway

0.38

Land At Roseacre/Brojo/Santega

Land Taken Into Highway

0.01

Uckington Estate

County Farms

117.37

Land Strip In Tewkesbury Road

Land Taken Into Highway

0.03

Manor Road, Land At

Land Taken Into Highway

0.43

Land holdings of the County Council in the Tewkesbury Borough Ward of Coombe Hill:

Site

Function

Hectares

Deerhurst And Apperley C Of E

Primary School

0.75

Elmstone Hardwicke Gypsy Site

Gypsy Caravan Site

0.66

The Willows – Caravan Park

Gypsy Caravan Site

2.26

Norton C.Of E. Primary School

Primary School

0.59

Twigworth C.Of E. Primary School

Primary School

1.75

Caswell, Site Of

Land Highway Improvement

0.06

Land At Apperley(Ransom Strip)

County Farms

0.03

Moat Farm

County Farms

93.10

Singleton Farm

County Farms

53.05

Tarrens Farm – Land

Formerly County Farms

3.66

Church Farm

County Farms

26.25

Uckington Estate

County Farms

152.98

Coombe Hill Estate

County Farms

61.10

Green Steps

County Farms

1.02

We didn’t get these until our pre-council meeting this morning. Answers are still rather vague, but show large holdings in Uckington which may give you more of a clue as to what they are looking at. Several of the farms mentioned are also in Uckington/EH or thereabouts I believe.

This is an aid to helping you know who makes the decisions in these large planning applications and consequently who we will need to target.

NATIONAL

  • GOVERNMENT
  • REGION
  • COUNTY/DISTRICT COUNCILS

IN THE SOUTH WEST.

  • GOVERNMENT
  • SOUTH WEST REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT AGENCY
  • LOCAL PLANNING AUTHORITY (DISTRICT COUNCIL)

POLICIES.

  • NATIONAL PLANNING POLICES (CABINET – HAZEL BLEARS)
  • REGIONAL SPATIAL STRATEGY – currently in draft form and due to be published by the Sec of State (Hazel Blears) soon
  • DISTRICT COUNCIL – LOCAL DEVELOPMENT FRAMEWORK

Plans for any new development have to go through the local planning authority. For Tewkesbury, this is Tewkesbury Borough Council, and for Cheltenham, Cheltenham Borough Council. Where the development straddles two authorities, it will need to go to both. If an application fails to get planning permission, then the applicant(s) can appeal. Members of a planning committee must not declare for or against of the scheme prior to formally considering it at committee.

The planning system is changing. The new system is called the Local Development Framework. This will outline the strategy for the area, and planning applications have to conform with it. It in turn has to conform to the Regional Spatial Strategy.

In both Cheltenham and Tewkesbury the LDFs have not yet been agreed – they are seen as ‘emerging’.

At the next “Save The Countryside” meeting on 7th March, Martin Horwood (MP for Cheltenham) will be present, as well as Mark Calway who heads up Laurence Robertson’s Office (MP for Tewkesbury). This will be a fantastic opportunity for you to ask them directly about the development plans.

Please come to the meeting at 6pm on Friday 7th March at the Municipal Offices on the Promenade in Cheltenham. We want you all to provide questions for the MPs. Here are selection of the questions we have so far. Please add any questions you have by entering a comment (click the coloured comment text at the bottom of this post)

1. Why has this development has been done in an underhand way?

2. Why isn’t Lawrence Robertson here as responsible for Tewkesbury and this is critical – can you assure us that this is a priority issue?

3. Flood risk: Based on the predications of more rainfall and the fact that the area seems to be surrounded by the 1 in 100 year flood risk area – how can it be possible to cover the soak away green area in concrete?
4. When the environmental impact assessment is done Can your MP ensure that correct amount of time is specifically dedicated to working on it as a priority task?

5. Why is the regional development agency not accountable to local people?

6. How are you going to support us politically on this cause?

7. What is the point of greenbelt land?

8. The development would be straight over a public footpath – how can we ensure we don’t loose this way of life?

9. What is the governments track record for predicting housing needs accurately?

In the March 2008 issues of “Focus”, the Liberal democrats newsletter to the Swindon Village ward, it was announced that the campaign was launched. Councillor Paul Massey explains “We needed to set up a separate campaign group that wasn’t party political, because we want everyone who cares about stopping this development to play a part. However, myself and the rest of the local Lib Dem team will be actively involved in the campaign, because it’s an issue that we passionately care about”. It was announced here that since January a goverment inspector has recommend that the “North-West Urban Extension” is increased for 4000 to 5000 new homes.

Local volunteers are currently out and about collecting signatures for the petition, and distributing information leaflets.