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.

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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

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.

MPs and Campaigners Rally at Swindon Village 27th Sept 2008

MPs and Campaigners Rally at Swindon Village 27th Sept 2008

MORE than 100 countryside campaigners, residents, councillors and MPs rallied in Swindon Village to protest against plans for thousands of homes on the greenbelt.

There were cheers and claps from the Seasons Business and Leisure Complex, in Quat Goose Lane, as politicians called for townspeople to lobby against Government proposals to build 8,100 homes around Cheltenham, including 5,000 on the edge of Swindon Village, as part of the Draft Regional Spatial Strategy.

The meeting was led by protest group Save the Countryside, with speeches from Cheltenham MP Martin Horwood and Tewkesbury MP Laurence Robertson, who gave advice on action to take.

There were calls for revolt as residents heard the Government had failed to take into account space already within the town, flooding concerns following last year’s crisis, or the need for new infrastructure including roads and schools to support the area of new housing.

Concerns were also voiced about the short amount of time taken by Government inspectors to assess Cheltenham for housing

Click here!

Helen Wells, chairman of Save the Countryside, told the crowds: “We’re here to make the maximum impact for our cause.

“The Government wants to massively increase the size of our beautiful town by 26 per cent and we’re not having it.

“Let’s all be clear, it’s our last chance to save our beautiful countryside.

“We have nationwide support and have come a long way since our inception seven months ago. It’s up to us to make our mark.”

Tewkesbury MP Laurence Robertson added: “We are all concerned about this issue.

“We have experienced problems with flooding and further development is only going to make this worse.

“The Government is not listening to us and it’s important to campaign and fight this.

“Once thousands of houses are built in the wrong place it’s too late and we’ll have to live with our mistakes.”

Cheltenham MP Martin Horwood called for public protests in London against the plans.

He said: “We cannot be bullied with accusations of being nimbys.

“We need a test that makes sure space in urban areas is used first and this should be part of the Draft Regional Spatial Strategy.

“That will help us to defend the countryside.

“Laurence and I also need to get together with MPs in the south west and go to London with bus loads of people behind us to make the Government listen.

“If we turn up the political heat, then just maybe we might become a success story.”

Mike Griffiths travelled from Elmstone Hardwick for the meeting.

He said: “This is not just a campaign by people from Swindon Village, but by the people of Cheltenham and Tewkesbury.

“Residents from both towns have joined together to present a stronger case against these plans.”

The public have until October 24 to make their views known on the Draft Regional Spatial Strategy through a consultation process.

■ Have your say by emailing rssconsult@gosw.gsi.gov.uk.