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5 year housing land supply in Cheltenham takes a hit

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A recent appeal decision dismissed by Greg Clarke hits Cheltenham’s housing land supply to the tune of 650 dwellings.

The scheme:

Outline planning permission was sought by Bovis Homes Ltd. and Miller Homes Ltd. for 650 residential homes and a 1.9ha local centre; to include retail and office space and associated infrastructure, such as a health centre, primary school and strategic open space.

Furthermore the site had been allocated in the emerging Gloucester, Cheltenham and Tewkesbury Joint Core Strategy (GCT JCS).

The outline application had been recommended for approval by the case officer at Cheltenham Borough Council but was then refused at committee.

The decision was taken to appeal and on the 6th May it was dismissed by the Secretary of State (SoS).

Reason for refusal #1 – Highways:

Both the Inspector and the Secretary of State flagged that the impact of the development on Highways and Transport would be severe.  Yet no objection was raised by the Highways Authority during the consultation period.

More than that, the Inspector noted that:  “Gloucester County Council, as the Highways Authority has reached a clear view of the acceptability of the proposal. Its response when consulted on the application is very comprehensive. Its advice is that there is no highway justification for refusal of planning permission. It maintains that view in subsequent statements.”

Reason for refusal #2 – Concerns over landscape harm:

The site was not deemed valuable enough to protect by designating it as an AONB or similar.  It was also noted that “development of the site would not harm more structural elements of the wider contextual landscape character, such as the nearby AONB or the setting of Cheltenham as a whole.”

However it was concluded that the site has its own charm and as a result it was decided that allowing the appeal would be seen as ‘premature’ and may prejudice the possible future designation of Local Green Space.

Next steps:

It is difficult to believe that this decision won’t be challenged in the High Court, with such a clear housing need and no objections raised in relation to Highways or Landscape during the application submission.

However, at the moment there is now a big question mark over a major JCS allocation, which further damages the fledgling 5 year housing supply position in Cheltenham and the JCS area as a whole.

You can read the full decision here.