Greenfield housing decision condemned

July 19, 2012 9:56 PM

CHELTENHAM MP Martin Horwood is writing today to the coalition's Conservative Communities Secretary Eric Pickles, condemning the decision to give the green light to 1,000 new houses on greenfield land north of Bishop's Cleeve - even as local councillors and campaigners are debating a Joint Core Strategy (JCS) for housing in the three boroughs of Cheltenham, Tewkesbury and Gloucester. Mr Pickles took the decision in support of a planning inspector's decision to uphold the appeal by developers.

Similar 'urban extensions' on greenfield land are being pushed by developers for 1,300 houses on green fields at Leckhampton south of Cheltenham and for 4,450 north-west of Cheltenham near Swindon Village.

Martin will point out to Mr Pickles that democratic consultation and decision-making by local councillors is still underway and that in the meantime this development was opposed by elected local representatives of every political colour and at every level.

He will refer to the new National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) published by the coalition in March which was subject to furious lobbying by Martin himself along with dozens of environmental and planning organisations, but which was supposed to have emphasised that priority should now be given to brownfield sites and that local councils were able to balance environmental and social impacts with the need for economic growth.

He wrote: "This decision backs unelected inspectors and mathematical models of housing supply against the clearly expressed wishes of local people and their elected representatives. In particular it pre-empts and undermines the local decision-making process still underway for a Joint Core Strategy."

"It also threatens to fatally undermine the coalition's stated commitment to democratic localism and to the environment. Local Conservatives and Liberal Democrats are united in opposition to what we see as inappropriate development in Gloucestershire and we believed we had won the battle at national level to prioritise brownfield sites and allow environmental concerns their full weight when the National Planning Policy Framework was published in March. But your decision in relation to Bishop's Cleeve appears to undermine all this. I hope more care will be taken in any future decisions relating to the three boroughs of Cheltenham, Gloucester and Tewkesbury."