STC and LegLag join forces

On Thursday 10th November the combined the forces of STC and LegLag mobilised about one hundred of us for a peaceful demonstration outside the council offices in Cheltenhams promenade. We were makinb our views heard on the Joint Core Strategy (JCS). On that day councillors were about to pass for the ‘preferred options’ document for publication.

The Joint Core Strategy

Both Kit Braunholtz (LegLag) and Helen Wells (STC) gave an excellent speech on the current state of the process. Kit explained that he believed the joint core strategy was the correct approach as it was right that planning needed to be jointly decided by neighboring regions. However, he was seriously disappointed by the draft document. It is almost a carbon copy of the Regional Spatial Strategy (RSS) which was scrapped by the coalition government when it came to power. But surely, don’t we have localism now, surely they have to listen. But do they? as despite much discussion of STC and LegLag with the JCS team we seem to be back where we started 3 years ago! Also the JCS document is seriously flawed.


The JCS document contains four scenarios with increasing requirements for housing over the next 20 years in the Gloucester, Cheltenham and Tewkesbury regions.

  • Scenario A – 16,200 houses built. No building on the green belt
  • Scenario B – 33,120 houses built (baseline projection -10%)
  • Scenario C – 36,800 houses built (baseline projection)
  • Scenario D – 40,480 houses built (baseline projection +10%)

Scenario A has been presented as the doomsday scenario as according to the document the housing market will fail. We know it won’t be seriously considered. The councillors are expected to recommend scenario B. So they are planning to build on the green belt, even though the government says and green belt should be protect, and while it says the default answer to development is YES and it required council to up there needs for 5 years supply of building land by 10%!

An absurd document

Ridiculous economic growth predictions – The JCS ‘preferred option’ information assumes 2.3% economic growth for the next 20 years!, hardly likely

Dodgy population projections – These seems seriously out of whack with the proposed housing. Scenario B makes the assumption that 80% of household will have one person, whereasgovernment predictions for 2031 assume only 65%.

Villages ignored – There are 2 key areas of development in Cheltenham 4450 in the NW urban extension and 1300 in the south Extension but absolutely little regard for any development in what is termed medium and smaller settlements, so where villages are asking for housing, these again seem to be ignored.

Toxic waste site vanished!  – there is no mention of Wingmoor Farm toxic waste site in the JCS or Greenbelt review. The land in this area is referred to as agricultural land. We know that this area is one of huge concern and no housing should be built with a 3km range

Greenbelt not valued– The references to the greenbelt around the area are far to generalised and seem only to focus on its value as a spacer between urban areas. We all know that these fields have more value than that and reference should be made towards it’s value in delivering food production, flood prevention, health benefits, wildlife protection and so on.
County council owned Green belt land – Despite assurances some time ago from council leaders that the council owned land was not for sale, we have fears that a document from rural estates includes their policy to continue to work with developers – what does this really mean?  This land used for agricultural purposes was highlighted as a ribbon development on the greenbelt review and this is inaccurate. We fear that the county council may now consider the sale of this land to developers to help relieve their financial pain.
Flooding – Reference is made to flood prevention but also to a 1 in 100 years risk. We know that the Environment agency data is unreliable and have grave concerns that their flooding projections are inaccurate regarding fluvial and pluvial flooding. This means that development could be allowed on high flood risk land. We are not clear if the surface water management assessment was actually included as part of the preparation.

Outcome of the meeting

Several people attended the council meeting in the public gallery. From what I heard the council didn’t make a good impression, it was hard to hear and some aspects were disappointing. For instance questions were asked early on by STC and LegLag but they were told they would be answered at the end of the meeting. This meeting went on for 3 hours. Many of us have jobs, family and other commitments to make. It isn’t fair to expect people to wait around all afternoon on a week day.

Despite this I’ve heard from Helen that most of the councillors are very supportive of STC and LegLag positions, but the concern is along the line that if modifications are made as this stage developers will be able to use this an ammunition to further undermine the document. This really makes no logical sense to me, surely a more solid document without obvious flaws would be less open to attack! Importantly, however, we established the the evidence base of the PCS document could be challenged via the consultation.

The JCS ‘preferred options’ document will be published any day now for consultation. Unfortunately the consultation period is over Christmas when people will be very busy. Both LegLag and STC are pressing for an extension to the consultation period.

Issues and Key Questions public consultation report

The JCS Issues and Key Questions public consultation was held between November 2009 and February 2010. Corresponding Parish Council events were held in February and March 2010. A report on all of this activity has now been published and can be viewed on the JCS website

Current consultation opportunities

The JCS team has recently launched an informal public consultation on the draft Part 1 of the Joint Core Strategy. Part 1 includes:

  • A ‘spatial portrait’ of the JCS area
  • Key issues faced by the JCS area
  • A vision of how the area may be in future, and
  • The strategic objectives to be fulfilled if the issues are to be resolved and the vision is to be delivered.

Part 2 will set out the policies to guide development in pursuit of the vision and will be consulted on in due course. If you wish to view or comment on Part 1 please visit: The public consultation on this document runs from 14th June to 5pm on the 9th August
Future consultation

The JCS project timetable is currently being reviewed in light of the Coalition Government’s recent changes to the planning system. Future consultation events will be announced thereafter. See the attached fifth JCS newsletter for further information and watch the JCS website for further announcements

If you have any questions please contact a member of the JCS Team either by email: or phone 0800 073 1441.