One of the guiding principles of the People Against Bureaucracy Group is the desire to stop unwanted development in the town, and to find the strongest means possible to prevent encroachment into the countryside.
This principle was enshrined in the Aims and Purposes of the PAB Group in 1976, and is still a strong commitment to protect the Green Belt and the green open spaces which play such an important role in the historic value of the town.
There is no doubt that sufficient amounts of brownfield sites are still available for development within the Cheltenham boundary before white land and the Green Belt is considered.
The Borough council has several surface car parks that could and should be converted to underground parking, which would free-up large areas of land for residential and commercial development.
As readers will be aware a number of significant Green Belt sites are being considered for inclusion in the Joint Core Strategy to enable the local authorities to meet their Government imposed housing targets. It has been calculated that this land, along with brownfield sites, will be sufficient to meet the area housing and employment needs until 2031. The PAB Group will be doing its utmost to ensure that within these new developments a significant area of green space is provided for the benefit of the local community.
Similarly, back gardens too like open spaces, play a useful part in preserving our green and pleasant land, yet these too have been sacrificed for no better reason than to allow the owner to make money – and usually at the expense of the neighbour’s amenities and the local environment.
Backland development, as it was called, had a serious impact on the openness and privacy in some local areas, which was made worse by the dual use of a single driveway.
At the Cheltenham Borough Local Plan Review in 2002, PAB councillors proposed an amendment to the housing policy calling on the Borough council to include a paragraph in its policy that “prohibits backland and tandem developments unless the development can provide its own individual access, which would be independent of the main driveway”.
Unfortunately, the ‘politically motivated councillors’ couldn’t bring themselves to support a simple proposal which would have lessened the impact on neighbours’ amenities, should a planning application be submitted.
Surely, a separate drive is better than a shared drive? We argued that where this was not included in the planning application, the proposal should be refused.
In recent years, development of new housing estates has ‘gobbled’ up more and more of the town’s open spaces. The PAB group believe that where new estates of more than a hundred houses are planned, one third of the available space should be allocated to green open spaces. If we fail on this simple requirement, we will be letting down future generations, and losing our green and pleasant land.