Save our green belt - Churchdown/Gloucestershire action group

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Our Concerns

As you will have seen in the media the proposals from the Joint Core Strategy (JCS) are including 639 homes along both sides of Cheltenham Road East from Dancey Road to Elmbridge Court Roundabout and 845 further homes on airport land from the back of Westover Court Cheltenham Road East right across to the A40 Golden Valley Bypass Parton Road. Both of these sites are in the Greenbelt and the last Greenbelt Review published in September 2011 stated that they were “Significant areas making a significant contribution to the Greenbelt and should not be considered for future release from the Greenbelt

Greenbelt is a policy for controlling urban growth. The idea is for a ring of countryside where building will be resisted, the fundamental aim is to prevent urban sprawl by keeping land permanently open. Unfortunately the JCS does not seem to take any notice of this and throughout the Borough six of the proposed sites are on the Greenbelt.

Below are some of our concerns with building on the green belt in Gloucestershire:

  1. The urban extension into our green belt is against government policy (National Planning Practice Guidance) In that linked document you will see it says that Green Belt is for the following which is exactly the opposite of what is proposed in the Joint Core Strategy:
    - to check the unrestricted sprawl of large built-up areas;
    -​ to prevent neighbouring towns merging into one another;​​
    - ​to assist in safeguarding the countryside from encroachment;
  2. Extending the urban area around some of the areas, for example south Churchdown, will merge it with nearby urban areas
  3. There is minimal change proposed to the road infrastructure to cope with all these new homes and the multiple cars that come with them
  4. In certain areas local services and amenities are not going to change to cope with this new influx of residents, e.g. Doctors and schools
  5. There will be a huge increase in road congestion - already a nightmare during rush hour around Churchdown, Gloucester and Cheltenham
  6. Flooding could be an issue in certain areas. For example the area south of Churchdown already has a high water table
  7. We feel brownfield sites should be developed first before using up the Green Belt
  8. Both of the Churchdown sites are in the green belt and at the last Greenbelt Review published in September 2011 it was stated that they were “Significant areas making a significant contribution to the Greenbelt and should not be considered for future release from the Greenbelt”
  9. Overall number of houses is far in excess of what is needed in Gloucestershire. Population only increased by 6% in whole of Gloucestershire over the past 10 years. The JCS plans to increase housing by 24% over the next 20 years and therefore 12% over the next 10 years. This is a double what is needed for the next 10 years if the population increase continues as it has been.
  10. The JCS strategy is focusing on urban extensions to provide housing. There is insufficient emphasis on building in more rural areas, for example Highnam. There should be a more balanced approach to development rather than building on green belt. It would be better to add housing to more rural areas rather than creating further urban sprawl.
  11. The JCS houses should be built in a phased development. Rather than the first 5 years focusing on building on the green belt and no where else. Then looking at other areas much later on.
  12. Some properties in Longlevens and Bamfurlong lane struggling to get house insurance due to risk of flooding. If you have any evidence of this please add it to your response to the JCS.
  13. The population models they have used they made 3 years ago. Now that 3 years have passed they could look to see whether their predictions have been met and this could help to create a much more accurate model for the coming years.
  14. Would be better to have smaller sustainable development containing affordable houses, houses that people could downsize to and some houses people would aspire to live in. This mix could be built in more rural areas.
  15. Building in more rural areas would lead to builders having to improve local infrastructure and amenities that would help those communities.
  16. The houses the JCS wants to build at north Churchdown are very close to the airport. The airport is concerned about this since they have plans to increase landings and takeoffs to 96,000 per year meaning a flight every 10 minutes. This could be very unpopular with anyone wanting to live in those new houses. It also seems strange to want to develop housing right at the end of a runway and the airport management are worried about environmental and safety issues. The airport opening times are also due to be extended and there will be more helicopter training leading to lots of helicopters hovering around and constantly landing and taking off.
  17. The JCS is currently based around an economic growth model. Instead it should be balanced more with the environment as well as economic growth. We don't want to ruin Gloucestershire!

There are four scenarios concerning the Joint Core Strategy review. We all feel scenario A is the one we should be opting for. This means building 16,200 houses within Cheltenham, Gloucester and Tewkesbury area and delivering these houses on brown-field sites and areas that already have obtained planning permission.

If options B, C or D go ahead this will mean the building of 750 homes on the edge of Churchdown, here is summary of a few concerns of individual residents of Churchdown if building of these homes on green belt land goes ahead:

  • The possible flooding to the house on the edge of the fields and how this will affect the insurance in the future (taking into consideration that high water table in this area)
  • The pressure on the local amenities such as GP surgery and School
  • The road infrastructure and where access to the new build will be made, also how the present roads will cope with additional cars.
  • There is a concern that there could be a larger proportion of Churchdown community that may not be aware of the JCS and implications of the proposed development.

Latest Information

At the meeting on 26th January 2012 a lot of concerns were raised in regards to the JCS. Here is a summary of those:

  1. The JCS evidence is flawed because it is years out of date! The data they are using is from 2007 when there was a higher demand for housing. This same level of demand does not exist anymore. Their predictions are now 5 years out of date. How can they predict the future growth when they can't even make accurate estimates for the two years?
  2. We want to save the green belt and this means optioning for scenario A. This will lead to no urban extensions/sprawl and instead using brown field sites.
  3. The extension into the green belt is against government policy!
  4. The whole point of the green belt is to protect the land, this is pointless if the councils just choose to ignore it and build on it when it suits them.
  5. There has been no democratic input on these Joint Core Strategy scenarios. It has been drawn up by officers from Gloucester, Cheltenham and Tewkesbury councils.
  6. Tewkesbury council is being asked to take on Cheltenham and Gloucesters housing needs!
  7. Developers had a large input on the evidence and they are obviously biased. It is much easier to build on green belt land so that has been their preference.
  8. We need to challenge the evidence found in the documents provided online: Evidence Base
  9. In their document the JCS team event admit the evidence is not complete!
  10. Option D would mean the building of more housing than is currently in Tewkesbury borough!
  11. Regeneration needs to be market let. Where is the money to buy all these houses?
  12. Employment and economic prospects won't just come from building lots of houses
  13. Coalition policy is to keep the green belt: Green Belt - Parliament UK
  14. Instead of large sprawling housing estates there are pockets of land that could be used instead.
  15. If you look at the 600 houses built at Highgrove that will give you an indication of what the 750 homes on the edge of Churchdown will look like.
  16. The flood testing that has been completed by the JCS has been minimal. They have not tested for flooding on the land where the 750 homes are proposed to be built.
  17. The last time an application to build houses on the land of the edge of Churchdown was submitted it wasn't approved! So why are they trying again? What has changed?
  18. There are new houses in the local area that have been up for sale for quite a while now and they haven't sold so why do they think building new houses will sell.
  19. The money created from building these houses will go to the town centres.
  20. The road network will not cope will all these extra cars. The JCS has not considered the road network, they have only mentioned improving the public transport network but most people still use cars! The current road network around Churchdown does not cope let alone if more cars are added to it.
  21. We need to tell Tewkesbury council not to support the Joint Core Strategy and go it alone instead.
  22. Instead of one large estate with 750 homes on it these could be spread over the area of Churchdown parish in small pockets, that is assuming we need all those houses in Churchdown. Current there are 5000 homes so adding an extra 750 is increasing Churchdown by a large amount.

AMEC Report into Green Belts - September 2011

This document can be download from here.

There are a lot of pages in this document but the relevant parts are:

  1. The field at the end of Parkside Drive in Churchdown is referred to as NW4
  2. The pages that mention NW4 are 43, 65, 52, 7, 45, 73 and 94
  3. The Maps are really interesting: map 5.1 shows flood risk, map 5.2 shows NW4 field as 'red' (significant contribution to stop sprawl), map 4.1 shows the areas & if you magnify in you can clearly see NW4 is. There is also supporting documents for the 'traffic light' system and you can see the detail in which AMEC have given for our area which we can all use in the consultation replies.

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