So what are the major political parties saying about housing issues and development for the local elections? Well, its remarkably difficult to get this information, partly due to which parties wish to put the effort in to fight for Cheltenham and partly because they only mention the issues that will be popular! Currently the Conservatives and the Lib Dems each have 17 councillors, PAB has 3 and Labour only 1. The Conservatives have overall control because of support from PAB.

To see who you can vote for in your ward go here

Labour

I’ve found the national manifesto for the local elections from the Labour Party here. It doesn’t saying anything about the RSS or housing targets or building on greenbelt (of course!).

Here are some quotes I’ve pulled out which are somewhat relevant, and you might want to question your local candidate(s) about how these statements fit with the building plans.

We are also helping families and individuals to live greener lifestyles. Our commitment to making all new homes zero-carbon by 2016 will put environmental concerns at the heart of the planning system and the way we build new homes.

Meanwhile, we will build up to ten eco-towns which will showcase sustainable development, while providing clean and green, sustainable communities for people to live in. And while we are setting ambitious targets for new housing development to help first time buyers, we are also maintaining robust protection of Britain’s green spaces.

Today, over three quarters of all new housing is built on previously developed, brownfield land.

Lib Dems

The Lib Dems are fighting a strong campaign locally since they want to gain overall power from the conservatives. Find their local manifesto here.

Heres what they say about the need for provide affordable housing:

How to we provide sufficient housing at affordable costs for the skilled workforce that the Government says the town needs when land is so previous and expensive

and specifically about the North-West urban extension:

This is precisely what makes it (Cheltenham) a desirable place to live in and is the basis of its success. An urban sprawl will ruin it. The proposals contained in the Regional Spatial Strategy of 12,500 more houses in the next 20 years – almost twice the rate of growth we have witnessed in the last 20 years – could result in this. The so-called ‘urban extension’ to the North West of the town must be opposed. Cheltenham, Bishops Cleeve and Gloucester mustn’t be allowed to merge into one long urban sprawl. Some well-managed open space must be kept between them.

and about “garden grabbing”:

We will also review local planning guidelines so that wholesale “backland” development in gardens is subject to controls that make sure the character and amenity of the existing town is protected

Conservaties

The Conservatives don’t have a local manifesto. However they do have a local website here. The main issue so them at the moment is “garden grabbing”:

Mark said, “Under present planning rules, gardens are classed as brownfield sites, just like a derelict factory or railway siding. This is a loophole that leads to mature family homes being bulldozed and replaced by apartment blocks and car parks. This is a garden grabbing charter that’s a blight on the town.”

They also talk about affordable housing (see here) and heres a quote:

Mark continued, ‘These schemes provide the opportunity for people to make a capital investment not possible with privately renting, whilst those still wishing to rent would benefit from reduced pressure on the market for rented property. What’s more an improved provision of affordable housing in Cheltenham brings greater diversity, vital for our community’.

People Against Bureacracy

The PAB party is a local group currently having 3 councillors. Their web site is here. The aims of the PAB party proudly stated on their front page are:

To keep party political issues out of local government, to protect the Green Belt and preserve the green open spaces of our town. To promote sensible developments that provides houses, employment and services for local people while retaining the proud and beautiful architectural heritage of Cheltenham. To preserve the environment and all the integral parts of its complex structure.

so, you would do well to question their candidates on this statement. In their issues section on their website they also mention “garden grabbing” here:

The chapter in the Cheltenham Borough Local Plan dealing with the urban green environment states that “The Council is proud of its parks, gardens and other green spaces and features and in recognition of this, the Council does not wish to see their loss through development.” So why are we allowing development on private gardens?

We do not support the cramming in of dwellings in every green space that becomes available. Green spaces are just as important to an area as trees and public parks. Back gardens are also important biodiversity resources and often contain habitats for wildlife, which we should always strive to retain.

so again they are keen to preserve green spaces.

The Green Party

The Green Party have a Gloucestershire website here. They don’t appear to say anything directly about preserving green space, green spaces or housing but their national policies on these issues are (see here:

All new house building and change of use should be subject to open democratic planning approval. For larger schemes and all proposed developments on green field sites, this will require independent comprehensive environmental impact assessments.

HO201 To ensure everyone is provided with housing appropriate to their needs.
HO202 To ensure that housing promotes community life.
HO203 To minimise the impact of housing on the environment.

Thats all I’ve managed to get so far. Please, please comment on this page particularly if you found out any more details or wish to correct any bias or error I have inadvertently introduced.

To see who you can vote for in your ward go here

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