Gloucestershire Campaign to Protect Rural England

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Joint Core Strategy flawed says CPRE

Green Belt from Churchdown Hill Green Belt from Churchdown Hill Photo: © Rob Colley

27 August 2014

The Joint Core Strategy, which proposes building over 30,000 homes in Gloucester City, Cheltenham Borough and Tewkesbury Borough by 2031 is flawed.  It fails to prioritise the use of derelict and vacant sites, gives no guarantee for the provision of essential infrastructure and affordable housing and poses an unnecessary threat to the Green Belt, according to the Campaign to Protect Rural England’s (CPRE) Gloucestershire Branch. 

It also fails key tests set by Government, says the campaigning organisation, and significant changes are needed if it is to be passed as sound when independently examined.

CPRE questions how the strategy will be able to deliver the number of homes it proposes during the period of the plan.  It adds:

•    major development sites require significant infrastructure and there is a funding shortfall of £700 million just for the essential elements
•    good planning of major sites requires Master Plans and Design Briefs agreed after full public consultation.  This will take time and the claim that the first houses will be completed on every major site by 2016/17 is unrealistic
•    the Strategy requires 30% of the new homes to be ‘affordable homes’ with 40% on major sites.  Across England developers are succeeding in challenging such high figures, getting them reduced by claiming they make their developments unviable
•    there are no proposals to carefully phase development and ensure that priority is given to first building on derelict and vacant land within urban areas so reducing the need to take land from the Green Belt for development.

Considerable doubt still exists about the Strategy’s housing projections of 30,500 new homes needed by 2031. An independent report for CPRE concludes: “the national economic situation does not warrant such optimistic figures and if land allocations are made on the basis of these ‘unsound figures’, future generations will pay a high price since much open land and landscape will be unnecessarily lost.”

CPRE Gloucestershire Vice Chair, Richard Lloyd, said: “The JCS will lead to cherry picking of the most profitable sites, threatening Gloucestershire’ unique landscape and greenfield land, a loss which could not later be rectified.”

He added: “There has been a regrettable lack of economic analysis by the JCS team and we will be urging the three local authorities to develop their housing plans based on sound evidence rather than the current strategy which appears to be based on assumptions rather than fact.”

CPRE’s report calls for a limitation of firm allocations of new housing land to a five to ten year period, rather than seeking to plan 18 years ahead when both the national economy and local needs will inevitably have changed, with an early review based on careful monitoring.  A phased approach is needed to avoid major landscape damage, blight and wasteful expenditure, it says.

 

CPRE’s response can be viewed and downloaded from the link below.

 

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