May 2008

Gloucestershire Ciounty Council today withdrew as the sponsor of the consortium that expressed an interest in bidding to Government for infrastructure funding for the NW Urban Extension in Cheltenham. They backed down because of the increasing public opposition to the idea and know that this will be a big issue in the 2009 elections.

Heres the full press release from the council:

Gloucestershire County Council has withdrawn its support for growth point status to protect the county from unnecessary over-development.

Under the scheme, councils with growth point status would be given the necessary funding and resources to provide roads, schools and other facilities if significant new development was to take place.

Last October, the county council, at the request of Tewkesbury Borough, Gloucester City and Cheltenham Borough Councils, expressed an interest in gaining the status to the Government.

Gloucestershire County Council has consistently argued against accommodating significantly higher growth levels in the county, partly because of the potential new development on the Green Belt.

But the council was keen to ensure that if development did take place, there would be money available to provide the infrastructure to go with it and so the expression of interest was submitted.

However, the decision from the Government on whether or not the scheme can proceed has been significantly delayed, which has given rise to concerns about its viability.

And proposed changes to the Regional Spatial Strategy – which decides on the amount and location of housing and development in the county – will be made public in July and it is feared it will include higher growth rates than the council is comfortable with.

These factors have led to a decision by Gloucestershire County Council to withdraw its support for growth point status.

Cllr Julie Girling, lead cabinet member for environment, said: “Initially, the council was keen to be included in the growth point initiative because we wanted to make sure that the we had the back-up to build the necessary roads and community facilities for new developments.

“But since last October, when we indicated our interest, things have changed.

“The delay by Government to implement the scheme has led to concerns and uncertainty about the whole initiative.

“We are also worried that if we do sign up for this, it could tie us into accommodating developments that we do not want or need, particularly within the Green Belt.

“Gloucestershire County Council has to act in the best interests of the county and our communities and at the moment we do not believe this scheme does that.”

Issued by Gloucestershire County Council’s media team 01452 425226

Lisa Bonnell

Media & PR Manager

Gloucestershire County Council

Tel: 01452 425226 / 07805 540422

The countryside walk on the 18 May was a great success. We had fantastic weather making it an enjoyable walk and we raised a fantastic £191 which we will be used to fund printing leaflets and similar necessary expenses. Around 200 people joined us on the walk around the fields to the West of Swindon Village where the proposed development site is. One person commented to me on how stunned they were that the whole area we walked through and beyond could be built on.

We also made front page of the Gloucestershire Echo the next day. See here.

Here a compilation of photos from the event kindly provided by Anne Emery. Click to enlarge.

A compilation of photos from the 18 May walk