The public hearing of the Cheltenham Plan took place between 13th and 28th February 2019 following the submission of the Plan and its supporting documents to the Secretary of State for independent inspection.
The Localism Act and the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) brought about changes to the planning system, including the requirement for local councils to produce a ‘Local Plan’ for its area.
The ‘Local Plan’ should not only show a presumption in favour of development, but clear policy guidance on how the presumption should be applied.
Currently, planning policies for Cheltenham are contained in the Joint Core Strategy (JCS) and the Cheltenham Borough Local Plan Second Review.
The PAB Group was particularly interested in Day 4 of the Hearing when Green Belt and green infrastructure was examined.
We have a long-lasting interest in the well-being and protection of the Green Belt in Prestbury, Up Hatherley and Leckhampton, as well as the Green Belt land that makes up the Gloucestershire Airport. (See other archives).
As readers may gather, the Hearing on Day 4 was swarming with developers and their associates, all trying to find ways and means of changing the main body of the JCS and particularly the Green Belt.
The fact that only 13% of the England land mass is Green Belt, and steadily diminishing, is of little consequence to developers and those who seem to have no interest in protecting our countryside.
The good news is that the Green Belt remains intact, and the policies that were included in the Joint Core Strategy and adopted by all three councils (Cheltenham, Tewkesbury and Gloucester City) in December 2017 remain intact. And when the new Local Plan is approved, the council will be able to address new non-strategic policies concerning the local infrastructure and other policies that are relevant to Cheltenham.
Good news to hear that the planning application to erect 91 houses on the lovely historic meadow at Oakhurst Rise was rejected by the Cheltenham Borough Council planning committee at the planning meeting in July.
Saddened, but not surprised, that the planning officer recommended permission, even though there was almost unanimous rejection of the scheme by those who live locally.
The councillors who expressed their support for the scheme should remember that a local green space in a residential area has as much value to a community as any other green space, including those that are in a green belt.
A green space in any local community, especially those in daily use, must have been created for a reason. They should be the last pieces of land for residential development – once they are gone, they are gone forever.
The Imperial Gardens is one of many attractions that bring thousands of visitors to Cheltenham each year. The colourful floral displays are breathtaking each year.
Cheltenham is full of gardens and parks, which is why the town was once called “a town within a park”, and even “the garden town of England”.
It is sad to read in the local newspaper that these descriptions might no longer be applicable in future years; if new council plans to change the present growing and planting method get the go-ahead in the future.
To replace the present arrangement with perennial plants, will not be the same, no matter how many arguments are put forward in support of them.
Closing the Arle Nursery, as is reported, would be the death knell for the floral displays because Cheltenham is one of the few local authorities to have an in-house nursery, which not only grows the bedding plants for the Imperial Gardens and the like, but it also grows and supplies some 650,000 plants to several other local authorities including Stratford District Council and Chesterfield Borough Council.
If this is still the case, then surely Cheltenham should be looking to expand this side of their operations, not do away with it, as seems to be the case.
This bleak news will soon be debated by the councilors. It will be interesting to see whether common-sense will prevail, or whether the ruling group will put ‘party political’ interests before the needs and wishes of the ordinary people.
We shall see.
The PAB Group response to the recent alarming report about a possible school being built on ‘The Chargrove Triangle’ is as follows.
Readers of a national or local newspaper should always be wary of any story that appears to be based on rumour or wishful thinking.
The developer, as in this case, appears to have started a rumour about the possible construction of a school, in the hope that it would create a response from the local residents, followed by the inevitable ‘take-up’ by the local press, which is exactly what seems to have happened here.
The usual political leaflet (by way of a letter), which was hastily delivered to local residents’ doors is misleading, and in our view, helped to fuel the rumour, which is exactly what the developer wanted them to do.
We would remind readers that the statement that “land on the south side of Up Hatherley Way had been removed from the Joint Core Strategy” is contained in the Executive Summary of the Pre-Submission Document (ref: page vii).
Furthermore, there is another reference on page 139 Plan A7 stating that “South Cheltenham – Up Hatherley Way has been removed from the Pre-Submission Document”.
The statements are clear and unambiguous.
The PAB Group is also fully aware of what development is allowed in the Green Belt: New buildings can only be constructed in the Green Belt if they are for the purpose of Agriculture; Forestry; Essential Sporting/Recreational Facilities and the replacement of a residential dwelling.
Additionally, there is the matter of compliance with other related policies that are contained in the Cheltenham Borough Local Plan, which must be adhered to.
PAB will always deal with the facts rather than rumours, which are usually baseless.
PAB Group. August 14th 2017
The area designated as Green Belt in England at 31st March 2010 was a meagre 13% of the total land area. This figure has probably been reduced in the past seven years, and Gloucestershire has the smallest amount of Green Belt in England.
This is not good news, so, the heading ‘Wrong place, wrong time’ (Echo July 15th) with reference to the proposal by Redcliffe Homes to build houses on the Chargrove triangle is misleading.
The land should, and hopefully never will be the right place, or the right time for development to take place on this important Green Belt land that separates Up Hatherley from Shurdington.
Whilst I congratulate Cllr Whyborn for his stout defence of the land on the south side of Up Hatherley Way, I am still painfully aware of the fact that his Lib/Dem colleagues in September 2013 voted against an opposition amendment in Council “… to remove the Up Hatherley land from the Joint Core Strategy”.
Similarly, when the opportunity to change the status of the ‘white land’ in Leckhampton to Green Belt in 1995, the Lib/Dems couldn’t bring themselves to support an amendment to the Local Plan which would have done exactly that.
How different things could have been if common sense had prevailed?
However, the good news is that the final discussions about ‘possible minor modifications’ to the Joint Core Strategy have taken place, and the site locations that were approved by all three councils in 2014, should now be accepted by the Inspector as being ‘sound’ up to the end of the period July 2031.
The Concise Oxford Dictionary defines an independent person as,” a person who acts independently of any party.” This describes the members of “People Against Bureaucracy.” Your organisation is a local, non-political group, dedicated to helping local residents and, as such, always puts the needs of the individual first.
P.A.B councillors are free thinking individuals, who are independent in the true meaning of the word. They will support an initiative if they feel that it is going to benefit residents.
What a change from the partisan, confrontational attitude of the main political parties, who are loathe to support any initiative put forward by their opposition. It seems that, to them, the party comes before the people.
The recent election of John Payne as the PAB representative on Gloucestershire County Council has shown that the residents of Prestbury and Pittville value constructive, positive discussion, not political points scoring. Hopefully, other areas of Cheltenham will feel the same.
All the candidates from the main political parties state that they have the welfare of the electorate at heart. But do they really? Would they publicly disagree with their party hierarchy on any policy that they, personally, were not comfortable with? I doubt it.
Congratulations to “People Against Bureaucracy” for showing that reasoned argument is possible, and successful. I hope that many more free thinking people join your organisation and support your ideals. Good luck in the future.
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Councillor Malcolm Stennett is now able to give our readers the following update on actions being taken by the Police following the terror threat being raised from ‘Severe’ to ‘Critical’
25 May 2017
Update on policing presence following change in threat level
In response to the recent change in the threat level to critical, armed officers from Gloucestershire Constabulary will be seen out and about in our communities, primarily in Gloucester and Cheltenham.
This is not based on any change in intelligence or threat for the South West, but the decision has been taken instead to make firearms officers more deployable and visible to our communities. We think this is what the public would expect at this time.
Our priority is to provide as much reassurance to communities as possible but we do recognise that some may feel anxious. The firearms officers will be engaging and talking with people and we would actively encourage you to approach the officers and ask any questions they may have.