brownfield development


Save the Countryside Meeting January 15th 2009 Municipal Offices

More than 40 people attended the meeting last night (15th January) to discuss the issues arising from proposals to build in the Green belt around Cheltenham.
Barbara Farmer from Safety in Waste and Rubbish Disposal (SWARD) outlined the history and issues associated with waste disposal at the Wingmoor Farm site near Bishops Cleeve.
In addition to the smells, flys, rats, noise and 82,000 traffic movements to and from Wingmoorevery year is the much bigger problem of toxic waste disposal. The hazardous waste site deals with ‘disposal’ of dioxins which amount to about 50% of the UKs total toxic waste.
The European Commission in a draft document maintained that there should be a half kilometer distance between non-hazardous waste sites and 2 kilometers distance from hazardous waste sites. This was not turned into law – but the so-called NW urban extension is to be built right up against the tip. Who will buy a house in such a situation?
Dave Wittsand Vernon Smith from the Severn and Avon Valley combined Flood Group outlined the history of flooding in the Severn Vale and the use of Sustainable Drainage Systems (SUDS). The evidence shows that most SUDS systems don’t work on the Severn Flood Plain because it is covered in impermeable clay and the water cannot soak away. Any building in the area of the NW urban extension will send more water down local streams into the Tewkesbury area and increase the risk of flooding there as happened in July 2007. Their campaign has attracted academic support from Professor Cluckie (Swansea University).
Cllr. Paul Massey, speaking for Cheltenham Council Leader Steve Jordan, indicated that the Regional Spatial Strategy has fallen even further behind and won’t be available until Summer 2009 now, and this will delay production of the Local Development Framework back. There will be a General Election in 2010 at which housing targets imposed on the area can be challenged.
Helen Wells, Chair of ‘Save the Countryside’ urged people to attend the meeting in Parliament on 21st January when Gloucestershire MPs will have an opportunity to meet one of the Ministers, Iain Wright, responsible for the RSS. ‘Save the Countryside’ is running a coach to it.
For further information, leave a comment on this site and we will get in touch.

John Webster

Agricultural Grades around Tewkesbury Road

Agricultural Grades around Tewkesbury Road

The land along the Tewkesbury Road earmarked for develpment by the RSS is ‘very good’ or ‘good’  agricultural land as the attached map clearly shows. Even the pasture which makes up most of the proposed development area is classed as ‘moderate’.  At a time when news stories like this continue to argue imminent food shortages, why are we planning to build over these precious food sources?

Save the Countryside is a non-political organisation, we just want to stop the urban sprawl that will result if the RSS gets the rubber stamp. To do this we need to persuade politicians of all colours to see the strength of our arguments. Well it looks as if campaigning groups like ours have hit a chord with the Conservatives, as can be seen from this excerpt from a statement from Eric Pickles, Shadow Minister for Communities and Local Government:

Conservatives have pledged to scrap regional planning and the unelected regional assemblies.

“A Conservative Government will abolish the undemocratic and unwieldy tier of regional planning across England. This will include changing the law to scrap the Regional Spatial Strategies and Regional Planning Bodies (currently the regional assemblies, soon to be RDAs). We will return their powers to elected local councils.
As a logical consequence of scrapping the regional plans, if the RSSs have already been implemented, we will allow councils to revise their local plans (‘Local Development Frameworks’) to undo the changes that the Regional Spatial Strategy forced on them. This will allow local communities to protect their local environment, and decide themselves the most appropriate level of development for their area.”

Fine words – its a forlorn hope that Labout will U-turn on this policy to nullify this vote-catcher, but hopefully it will make them consider the detail more carefully. For example, Margeret Beckett in the Commons this week was put on the spot about the principle of consecutive development which was cut from the final draft of the South West RSS – she responded:

(On the issue of brownfield development..) “this is one of the many targets that others said we could not possibly meet but we have met; in fact, we have exceeded the targets on building on brownfield. I understand his concerns, and I feel sure that all Members will agree with him that we should do this, rather than, as the hon. Member for Esher and Walton (Mr. Taylor) mentioned, go for greenfield development. (Hansard: 18 Nov 2008 : Column 113)”

We just need to keep the pressure up.