THE HISTORY OF THE LECKHAMPTON FIELDS
Tewkesbury Borough Council (TBC), to their credit, was always consistent with its support for the protection of the Green Belt under its jurisdiction.
Following the boundary changes in 1991 and the transfer of the peripheral parishes to the Cheltenham Borough Council area, the situation changed.
The PAB Group became concerned when a different approach to the protection of the Green Belt around Cheltenham became increasingly apparent.
By 1995, we saw large swathes of Green Belt land being lost to all kinds of development, including the construction of the Park & Ride facility at Arle Court and the South West Distributor Road (SWDR). The promise that the facility would be a ‘one-off’ development in the Green Belt turned out to be worthless, as we now see with the creation and growth of a ‘mini-Kingsditch Lane’ creeping towards The Reddings along the SWDR.
TBC meanwhile, seeing what was happening to the Green Belt that was once under its jurisdiction, took steps to strengthen its Green Belt policies.
When the changes went out for public consultation, Cheltenham Borough Council (CBC) submitted an objection to the proposed changes.
This brought a flurry of correspondence from local residents. One local resident claimed in an article in a local newspaper that “CBC was not capable of handling its Green Belt responsibilities…”
This prompted the PAB Group to raise a petition calling on TBC to “…stand firm on its Green Belt policies”, which was delivered to the council.
This act of support to TBC did not win the PAB Group any favours with members of CBC, but it was a show of support that was needed at the time.
It was in 1995 that a developer attempted to develop unallocated (white land) in Kidnappers Lane and Farm Lane. Following refusal by the planning committee, the developer went to appeal. The Inspector was sympathetic to the pleas from local residents to make the land Green Belt, but of course, he had no power to do so.
With a Review of the Cheltenham Borough Council Local Plan due to be undertaken, the PAB Group submitted the following resolution to the council:
“This Council, mindful of the strong wishes of people living in the south of Cheltenham to maintain a green environment in their part of the town, seeks to designate the area of unallocated land lying to the east of Kidnappers Lane and Farm Lane as Green Belt, making it abundantly clear to all that there exists a clear presumption against this land being used for residential development.”
The resolution, if accepted by the Council, would modify the Green Belt policy.
We were confident of success; after all, the planning committee had refused the original planning application, which was dominated by Liberal Democrat councillors.
The PAB resolution was debated at the Extraordinary Meeting of the Council on November 9th 1995.
The PAB resolution was defeated by 22 votes to 9 with one abstention. All 22 Lib/Dem councillors voted against changing the status of the white land to Green Belt, which meant the land, would stand little chance of withstanding any attempt by a developer to develop it in the future.
In 2014, the Lib/Dems with its large majority, once again allowed the land to be included as a possible location site for development.
The recent Examination-in-Public by a Government Inspector raises a little hope that some of the land will be saved – but for how long?
Les Godwin. August 2017.
Source: Lifting the Lid.