Greenbelt land around Innsworth - but how long for?

Greenbelt land around Innsworth - but how long for?

Please make time to attend a planning meeting at Longford Village Hall, Longford Road, Gloucester, GL2 9DE) at 7pm on Wednesday July 15th. Here’s why…

One of our number attended a recent meeting involving legal counsel for Robert Hitchins and Tewkesbury BC. What follows is an extract from his notes. I you will agree its a compelling case for us to turn up in numbers.

Anthony Crean Q.C . on behalf of the developer Robert Hitchin: The RSS is coming, and on that basis we have the right to build these 1750 (up to 2,500) houses on this Greenbelt search area round Innsworth.

Paul Cairnes on behalf of Tewkesbury Borough and Glouceestershire County councils 

appealed on the following grounds:

– whether there are very special circumstances to justify development within the greenbelt

– whether granting development in advance of the Joint Core Strategy evedence is premature

–  Whether proposal delivers adequate affordable housing

– Whether appropriate design standards have been met

– whether adequate community infrastructure is provided / intrusion into the rural landscape

– The acceptability or otherwise of the proposed s106 (This is code for the SW RSS) obligations offered by the appallent

 So this is maybe two thousand houses plus on the Green Belt between here and Gloucester. It could turn out to be an important test case for the RSS, so please consider coming along on next Wednesday.

The second newsletter of the Joint Core Strategy for Cheltenham Gloucester and Tewkesbury can be seen below. it has all the dates and contact details so you can keep up to date with what is happening.



West Worcestershire Liberal Democrat campaigner Richard Burt has lodged a petition with the Number 10 website calling for the suspension of the regional housing targets.

The petition reads:

We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to suspend regional housing targets determined through the Regional Spatial Strategy, empowering local councils instead to set their own targets based on local, sustainable housing needs assessments and consultation with local communities.

You can sign it at

Martin Horwood addresses the campaign in Committee Room 14

Martin Horwood addresses the campaign in Committee Room 14


About 90 people from Gloucestershire congregated at the House of Commons to put pressure on the Government to back down from its deeply flawed Regional Spatial Strategy proposals. The day before we had been told this in a written note from the Minister Iain Wright:

I cannot discuss the content of the RSS or communicate the points raised at our meeting with decision making Ministers about issues raised by regional stakeholders. This is for reasons of fairness and to avoid new issues arising which might necessitate a further round of consultation..

which all seems to fly in the face of democracy. Our party was undeterred however and when a deputation of Gloucester MP’s met the Rt Hon Mr Wright they found him to be very sympathetic. He was impressed both by the strength of feeling and by the force of some of our arguments and while he could not publicly commit to help, the MP’s were pleased to see aides scribbling notes throughout the meeting.

At a debrief to the whole group in Committee Room 14 jointly chaired by Helen Wells and Cheltenham MP Martni Horwood, the mood was upbeat – there was a definite feeling that the messagewas beginning to get through. Some evidence of this can be seen in one of the comments after the meeting by a spokesman for the Department of Communities and Local Government who said: “The South West is facing long term housing shortages and affordability issues.  It is already the only region with above average house prices and below average incomes. If more homes are not built the housing ladder will get even further out of reach leaving the next generation with nowhere to live.” 

In response to fears about green belt land however, the spokesman continued: “The government has no intention of weakening the protection given to green belt in planning decisions. We believe it is possible to build the homes future generations need whilst protecting the environment and green spaces.”

There were a number of interviews with regional press and television and there was a good write up of the day in the Gloucesrshire Echo here: 


This weekend the focus switches to the local dump – why build houses near the toxic waste facility at Stoke Orchard? This Saturday, 31st January, Grundon are putting on a public exhibition about their proposals for 20 more years of operations at Wingmoor Quarry and Wingmoor Farm.
If you need transport or do not wish to drive onto Grundon’s site, SWARD are running a minibus shuttle, financed by Bishop’s Cleeve Parish Council.  The minibus will start at 9.30 am and run continuously till the exhibition ends. Simply wait outside Bishop’s Cleeve Community Centre.

We are planning another meeting in February and will publish that date nearer the time – its important we keep up the pressure.

In the meantime, enjoy this coverage on ITV West with star performances from Helen Wells, Barry Simon, and Martin Horwood.

floodfieldsAs we heard from the Severn and Avon Vally Combined Flood Group last week, the Environment Agency only includes river flooding in its flood risk estimates. Insurers however take a more cautious approach, and while we may not want our premiums to go up, we would all rather have avoided the risk in the first place. New Flood Risk Assessment maps published by Landmark Information include minor rivers and surface water and give an overall figure of 30% for housing at risk from flooding as opposed to the 10% estimated by the Environment Agency. Landmark worked in conjunction with RMS to produce the reports. If homeowners won’t buy houses at risk, maybe developers can be deterred from building on the green belt.

Matthew Grant, global head of client development at RMS, which has been modelling all sources of flood risk since 2001, said: “The 2007 floods provided a stark reminder that major river flooding is just one part of the full flood risk picture, and a much more comprehensive view is needed. ”

There may well come a time when Save the Countryside should be commissioning RMS and/or Landmark Information to give us a detailed assessment of our area with its impermeable soils and fast flowing minor rivers.

To find out more read this article from today 20th January on the site or the formal press release is available on Landmark’s  Homecheck  site along with some similar articles.

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.