By

The Gloucester, Cheltenham and Tewkesbury Joint Core Strategy examination in public

Cheltenham

The Gloucester, Cheltenham and Tewkesbury Joint Core Strategy (GCT JCS) presents the major development plan for the area, setting out the vision for future housing, economic growth and associated infrastructure.  Once adopted it will form the basis for planning decisions across Cheltenham, Gloucester and Tewkesbury until 2031.

The GCT JCS has been undergoing its Independent Examination Hearings since May 2015. At present the Stage 3 Hearings are being undertaken and topics include Housing, Employment and Infrastructure.

Latest updates on the progress of the Examination, advise that discussion on the Main Modifications will now follow the provision of the Inspector’s Interim Findings, expected in May or June 2016.

Housing provision in the JCS:

On 22nd March 2016 the Inspector undertook a hearing on housing as part of the Examination.

Prior to the Housing Hearing Session the Inspector published an agenda for the day and an overview of the key points is below:

Objectively assessed housing need:

  • The Inspector has identified an economic-led housing need figure of 33,500 dwellings rather than the proposed demographic-led figure of 31,830, stating ‘provision should be made for these homes within the JCS now and should not be deferred to the next review.’
  • The SHMA identifies a need for elderly accommodation to the tune of additional institutional provision of 1,158 bed spaces over the Plan Period. But the JCS as yet provides no further explanation of how these units are to be included.
  • As for student accommodation, there is an additional need for campus rooms and it is not clearly identified how this will be dealt with in the JCS.

Affordable housing:

  • The affordable Housing need figure needs to be re-calculated as current calculations do not accord with best practice in the PPG.
  • There is a risk that the MOD part of the Ashfield housing-led allocation of 1900 units may not be viable if 35% affordable housing is required. The Inspector seeks to propose resolutions to this, such as further analysis of the costs on site or whether an uplift in affordable housing contributions elsewhere could be proposed to replace any loss on this site.
  • The assessed need for affordable housing has been presented as an aggregate figure and no split has been provided between the three authorities. This is contrary to the NPPF, which requests that housing type and tenure are required in particular locations.

Five year housing land supply (5YHLS):

  • Does the plan as it stands have a 5YHLS? Concerns have been flagged about delivery of the strategic sites which could impact on the 5YHLS. The Inspector recommends allocating smaller strategic sites, between 200 and 500 dwellings, which would provide more certainty of delivery and choice. However these potentially sustainable sites will need to be allocated to have a hope of coming forward, particularly any that might be located within the Green Belt.
  • The Inspector is not convinced that the 500 dwelling threshold is most appropriate for this plan.

The GCT JCS is the product of years of work on the part of the respective three councils. Further to the housing hearing we wait to read the Inspector’s findings, to be published in May/ June 2016, to see how key topics such as securing the 5YHLS, affordable housing allocations and allocating housing need for students and the elderly have been addressed.  Certainly the Inspector’s response to the MOD site suggests a pragmatic approach to enabling and securing sites for housing provision.

About us:

Plainview Planning provide expert planning support across the developer, commercial and householder sectors.   If you have a site you feel may be suitable for development and want to better understand how the emerging GCT JCS may impact on your development proposals, contact our team today to see how we can best assist via cheltenham@plainview.co.uk or 02142 501003.