The Joint Core Strategy consultation starts today, on the 13th December 2011 and runs until 5pm on the 12th February 2012. Your views are very important to the development of the local area over the next 20 years. Participate here. Heres a piece Barry Simons wrote for the Swindon Village news about the JCS…

The fate of the green fields between Swindon Village, Uckington and Elmstone Hardwicke is dependent upon the Joint Core Strategy (JCS). The JCS is a plan to be agreed by Cheltenham, Gloucester and Tewkesbury for future development within the control of the three local authorities. This plan will make an estimate of the future requirement for houses, employment land and other land uses and then say how these needs will be met over the next 20 years. Once it has been agreed it will provide a basis which developers can use to plan what and where they can and cannot build.

The plan must provide sufficient land to meet future needs. The government requires each local authority to have identified at any one time sufficient land to allow the next 5 years of housing to be built plus twenty percent

Local authorities have to make this much land available or developers can ask to develop other land outside that which is allocated and if the local authorities don’t allow it the matter can go to appeal on the grounds that the local authority are not meeting their commitments.

A first draft of the JCS has now been passed to the councillors of the three authorities and they have to decide if it is good enough to go out for public comment.

JCS Logo

The draft has gathered a lot of figures on the expected population growth then estimates the number of houses needed to cope with this growth. This leads to four options: one shows what can be provided without any green fields being built on and the other three detail what land is required to meet the expected actual need stemming from the earlier growth estimates. All these three require building on green field and green belt land.

It is Save The Countryside’s belief that the figures in this draft which estimate the future increase in population for the area and the number of new houses needed to house these people are very wrong. When Cheltenham Borough Council debated the matter recently almost every councillor said that the felt they should recommend option which does not include building on green fields. Many spoke eloquently on this matter including our own councillors. However as the JCS reads right now this could lead the process open to appeal. What we have to do now is prove that the JCS growth figures are a considerable overestimate and thereby give our councillors a way to accept the first, non Greenfield, option without leaving the door open for developers to appeal. We must also show to our councillors that we support them in their stance and that it is for local people to decide the need and how to meet it. The government has said it supports localism and David Cameron himself has spoken in support of the greenbelt.

One important line to take is that the JCS figures are no more than an estimate. No matter how the numbers turn out in the end, we must not allow building on green fields until all the brown fields have been used up and there is still an unmet need.

So what can residents of Swindon Village do?

The JCS will go out for public consultation before Christmas. You will be able to find the JCS on the internet http://www.gct-jcs.org/PublicConsultation/

We will have a link to the appropriate place on our website www.savethecountryside.org.ukand will share with you easy ways that you will be able to put forward your comments (coming shortly!).

It is so important for all of us to take the opportunity formally put our comments to the Joint Core strategy team. So we ask all who can to do this and write to their counsellor to confirm that you are against building in the greenbelt and on green fields until all other land has been built on.

Without responses from local residents we are at risk of the JCS team pushing forward on one of the options resulting in a huge urban extension on our doorstep and the loss of our countryside forever.

If you want to keep those fields green prepare to do your bit.

A big thank you to our supporters, particularly the 100 of you who stood with us outside the Council offices on 10th October.

(Adrian) I attach a programme of JCS public meetings where you can also participate in the consultation.

Day Date Time Venue
Wednesday 4-Jan 5.30 – 8pm Uckington & Elmstone Hardwicke Village Hall
Thursday 5-Jan 4.30 – 7.30pm Parish Rooms, Highnam
Monday 9-Jan 3 – 6pm Churchdown Community Centre
Thursday 12-Jan 2.30 – 5.30pm Shurdington Social Centre, Century Hall
Friday 13-Jan 10am – 5pm Eastgate Centre, Gloucester
Saturday 14-Jan 10am – 5pm Kings Walk, Gloucester
Tuesday 17-Jan 5.30 – 8.30pm Brockworth Community Centre
Wednesday 18-Jan 6 – 9pm Ashchurch Village Hall
Friday 20-Jan 10am – 1pm Tewkesbury Town Hall
Friday 20-Jan 10am – 5pm Regent Arcade, Cheltenham
Saturday 21-Jan 10am – 5pm Regent Arcade, Cheltenham
Thursday 26-Jan 5.30 – 8.30pm St Michael’s Church Hall, Bishop’s Cleeve
Monday 30-Jan 2.30 – 5.30pm Dumbleton Village Hall
Tuesday 31-Jan 5.30 – 8.30pm Winchcombe School
Wednesday 1-Feb 10am – 1pm Tewkesbury Town Hall
Thursday 2-Feb 2.30 – 5.30pm Apperley Village Hall