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Blog > Joint Core Strategy > Inspector's Preliminary Findings

Below is a document detailing the Inspector's Preliminary Findings on Green Belt Release, Spatial Strategy and Strategic Allocations for the Joint Core Strategy.

In the previous post we mentioned that houses in Churchdown have not been approved. We have since discovered that it is actually just the north Churchdown houses that haven't been approved. These are the ones by Staverton airport.

Here is the full document: View Document

Here are the two parts that mention Churchdown:

A2 - North Churchdown (By Staverton)

78. North Churchdown corresponds roughly with red traffic light segment NW379, thereby making a significant contribution to the GB. The AMEC report states that this segment is critical to preventing the closing of the gap between Cheltenham and Churchdown, which is already heavily intruded towards its southern extent by the airport80.

79. As Churchdown is a suburb of Gloucester, removing this segment from the GB would also significantly impact on the separation of Cheltenham and Gloucester, thereby impacting on the main purpose for which this GB was designated. Referring specifically to segment NW3, the report states that “The contribution of this segment to maintaining the openness as a whole is critical at this narrow point.”81 Consequently, the bar for demonstrating exceptional circumstances for the release of NW3 from GB should be set very high.

80. The Strategic Allocations Report82 and Landscape Report83 indicate that overall landscape sensitivity is medium to low and the site is mainly in flood zone 1, although there is a stretch along Norman’s Brook in flood-zone 3. It is located centrally between Gloucester and Cheltenham on the edge of Churchdown, has good transport links and is close to junction 11 of the M5 motorway. However, it lies adjacent to Gloucestershire Airport and I have reservations about the potential for noise sensitive development to impact on the operation of the airport.

81. I have considered the benefits of this site84 and its reasonably sustainable location. I also note the Councils’ submissions that the site has defensible boundaries that would reduce the likelihood of further encroachment into the GB85. However, given that this site is critical to the openness of the Cheltenham and Gloucester gap, I am not persuaded that exceptional circumstances exist for its removal from the GB. Therefore, I am minded to find that its allocation is not sound.

A3-South Churchdown (By A40)

82. South Churchdown consists of red traffic light segments NW4 & SW5 and makes a significant contribution to the GB. The AMEC report indicates that NW4 and SW5 make a significant contribution to the separation of Gloucester and Churchdown (and thus Cheltenham). Nonetheless, it goes on to indicate that the segments are enclosed by urban development, the substantial barrier of the A40, and the main line railway, thereby isolating them from the more substantial tract of GB to the South East86.

83. The South Churchdown allocation is sandwiched between the eastern edge of Gloucester and the south-western edge of Churchdown, with Cheltenham lying beyond an open gap to the east. The eastern edge of Churchdown forms the nearest settlement boundary to Cheltenham and development of this site would not bring the urban settlement boundary any closer to Cheltenham. Whilst its allocation would cause the merging of Churchdown and Gloucester, the gap between Churchdown and Cheltenham would be preserved.

84. The Strategic Allocations Report87 and Landscape Report88 indicate that overall landscape sensitivity is medium and it is mainly in flood-zone 1. The site is in a sustainable location, reasonably close to Gloucester City Centre, junction 11 of the M5 motorway and the highway network. However, development must be designed to mitigate the impact on Churchdown Hill and Pirton Court, the latter of which is an important heritage asset89. Noise impact from the A40 and main railway line wouldneed to be carefully managed.

85. Nonetheless, whilst there would be some harmful impacts from development, on the evidence before me, and in view of the site’s benefits90, I am minded to find that exceptional circumstances exist for its release from the GB, and that its allocation is sound.

Go to the maps page on this website to see where exactly the North and South Churchdown developments are: View Maps

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