Our final chance to have our say in the future of our town and countryside!

What is the JCS?

The Joint Core Strategy (JCS) in a house building plan put out by Cheltenham, Gloucester and Tewkesbury councils together to plan for the needs of our 322,600 residents for the next 20 years. The public consultation has began and is open until 12th February 2012.

What do Save The Countryside want?

Save The Countryside have been consulted by the JCS team and these councils for 5 years, to ensure the best plans are developed for the long term future of our towns, countryside and out residents.

We are passionate to save our greenbelt land and green fields, and for our planners to build much needed housing in a responsible way, using the available sites and regenerating properties before considering development on open countryside. Save The Countryside have made our own calculations and would like to ask you to consider these and make up your own decision for the future.

The JCS has tried to predict the future stating that the population of the area will increase by 45,200 people and to house them it will be necessary to build 36,850 new houses. This is one house built for each 1.2 people (really?!)

The strategy gives us four options to choose from:

A
16,200

new homes

building only on brownfield (previously used) land

B
33,200

new homes

(baseline -10%)

BUILDING ON LARGE AREAS OF GREENBELT

C
36,850

new homes

(baseline)

BUILDING ON LARGE AREAS OF GREENBELT

D
41,500

new homes

(baseline +10%)

BUILDING ON LARGE AREAS OF GREENBELT

Options B, C and D would see development on brownfield land and also on large areas of greenbelt and greenfield land. Including 4,450 homes between Swindon Village and Uckington on existing greenbelt land.

Many councillors, like us, have indicated that they would prefer not to build on greenfield/greenbelt land if at all possible but they are worried that if they go for option A then developers will be able to resort to costly (for the council and developers) appeals on the grounds that not enough land has been made available.

This would enable the developers to gain access to green land first because it is easier to build on than redeveloping previously used land and so they made bigger profits.

How to support option A

Occupancy assumption: If you look at the figures you can see that the JCS made the assumption of one home built for every 1.2 people. This projected level of occupancy is extremely low given that current on Gloucestershire the average is 2.3 people per home and same figure stands for England as a whole. So the way out is to challenge the evidence base and assumptions that the JCS stands on, this is just part of the evidence base. Redoing the sums assuming 2.3 people per house we find that only 20,000 houses will be needed over the next 20 years, a lot less than options B, C and D. This means that the land identified in Option A is sufficient for the first 16 years of growth without any need to touch green land.

GDP growth assumption: An ambitious 3.2% GDP growth figures was assumed for the region for the next 20 years! (as in the Regional Spatial Strategy). We now all know this is widely optimistic. This is important because GDP growth drives population growth due to new employment opportunities. So more realistic GDP growth (or even contraction) means less population growth.

Flawed greenbelt review: Another part of the evidence base in the green belt review. This report judged the area to the NW of Cheltenham around Swindon Village against green belt criteria. The judgement is flawed due, firstly because the huge Wingmoor farm landfill site containing the most highly toxic waste and site inside this region is completely ignored! and importantly it is advised that no house building should sit within 3km of such a site. In addition the review only seems to focus on the greenbelts value is a separator between urban areas and not its value in food production, flood prevention, health benefits and wildlife protection. Finally the ribbon development along Tewkesbury route was considered to have “reduced the openness of the greenbelt” when it is clear it has an insignificant impact on the miles of green fields.

Certainly we would be foolish to allow the green fields to be used until we know that the population is actually going to grow as the JCS expects.

So what can you do?

Let the JCS team know which option you prefer A, B, C or D and explain why in your comments. If you agree with STC then please let your concillors know too. Please let your concillors know that you support their wish to not build on green land. This will increase their resolve to support Option A.

Consider the points raised if they help your view on which option to propose and use them to back up your argument.

Your Councillors are:County Councillor (Swindon Village):

Cllr. Mrs Suzanne Williams Tel:230648

suzanne.williams@gloucestershire.gov.uk

Cheltenham Borough Councillors:Cllr. Bernard Fisher Tel: 227569

bernard.fisher@swindonparish.org.uk

Cllr. Paul Massey Tel: 771482

cllr.paul.massey@cheltenham.gov.uk

To comment:

By letter:The JCS Team, Municipal Offices, Promenade, Cheltenham, GL50 9SA

On the website: http://www.gct-jcs.org

By email: info@gct-jcs.org

Visit the JCS displays – you will find details on the JCS website. Your closest is on the 4th January at Uckington Village Hall from 4pm until 9pm or 7th January at Sainsburys from 10am until 5pm

It’s really important that you do comment, this is our very last chance.
If you don’t do anything our village will be engulfed by thousand of new houses within a few years!
THANK YOU!