Category Archives: Joint Core Strategy

Members of the public are finally to be allowed to speak at TBC Planning Committee during 12 month trial – but at what real cost to local influence?

lectureAt Tuesday evening’s Meeting of Tewkesbury Borough Council, I was pleased to support a change in the Council’s Planning Policy which will allow the trial of public participation in Planning Committee Meetings for 12 Months.

As a result, Applicants, Developers, Objectors and Members alike will get the opportunity to speak to the Planning Committee when Applications are not determined or decided by Officers under Delegated Powers.

Unfortunately, at the same time, a Vote was also taken on raising the bar at which Applications will automatically be taken to the Planning Committee for Determination.

Given the already all-too-arbitrary nature of the Planning Process, this move has given me considerable concern, especially as it will not now be taken as read that a qualifying objection from a member of the public will not necessarily be enough to trigger Committee Determination, leaving many more Applications in the hands of Officers. I do not support this and voted against it.

An Amendment was proposed from the floor to address this, which was dismissed on the basis that any Elected Member will be able to ‘call-in’ any Application.

Sadly, the point was missed that local Members may not always agree with an objection which in the eyes of others could still be considered legitimate. Also, Members representing other Wards are unlikely to step in to help people they do not represent, unless the objectors are known to them, or become known to them in circumstances which would to many raise questions of propriety.

I am pleased that there has at least been a step towards giving local people more of a voice, even if it was clear that many of those supporting the vote were doing so very reluctantly and to the point that the Leader of the Council, Cllr Robert Vines (Conservative) openly said that it would make Planning boring.

I do have some concerns for Residents, based on my experience as a Licensing Committee Chair. Members of the public who attend public meetings to speak have to their great credit often committed a great amount of time and emotional energy into the process, and can clearly feel greatly intimidated just by the experience of speaking in such an environment, even before you consider that to do so may clearly be making a statement which runs contrary to that of seasoned professionals who are present and ready to pick holes in anything they say.

When Residents objecting to a planning application come to discover that the effort they have made has not made the impact that they had hoped, or even come away realising that their contribution will make no difference at all to a Planning Application – which is a significant risk given the state of the Planning System – I would question the validity and justification for putting people through this at any level.

However, like everything, we do have to start somewhere and moving forward in any sense has to be positive. I will certainly encourage any Resident I am representing who is making an objection to a Planning Application to participate if they wish to do so.

We can only hope that the 12 month ‘test’ opens the door to the TBC Planning Committee finally accepting the legitimacy of local opinion, rather than the trial being used as an excuse to close the door on localism in its legitimate sense for another generation – which judging by the behaviour of many Councillors at Tuesday’s Meeting is sadly a very big risk.

image thanks to source unknown

 

 

 

 

Pamington Lane Development: Latest news & comment

Starveall 10The Application for the Pamington Lane development finally reached the Planning Committee at Tewkesbury Borough Council at its Meeting this morning.

During a debate which lasted well over an hour, many of the Committee Members discussed the Plans and there was significant agreement with many of the points that I raised on behalf of Residents when I spoke.

Despite many additional points being raised by Committee Members about the clear lack of joined-up thinking in terms of the impact that all of the developments along the A46 are going to have on a road network, which is already far too busy, it became clear that because none of the organisations or agencies such as Gloucestershire Highways or the Highways Agency have raised any objections, there was – in planning terms – no robust reason for the Committee to refuse.

The Committee voted to permit the Application – under delegated authority – on a margin of 7 votes to 6.

I have since been made aware by Residents who attended and were watching from the Public Gallery, that Members who during the debate said that they would not support the Application going ahead, actually didn’t vote – or ‘sat on their hands’.

Sadly, the fact remains that the Joint Core Strategy which arguably prioritised Cheltenham and Gloucester’s development needs way above those of people who live in Tewkesbury Borough, has failed Pamington even before it has been rubber stamped by the Government.

We can only hope that no more significant development applications are submitted from within the Ashchurch with Walton Cardiff Ward – even in outline form – before the Secretary of State reaches a decision – hopefully be in the Autumn. Otherwise, these too are likely to be built without any real regard to the wider impact that they will have on our Community.

Many additional houses will also be built which were never projected within the JCS Plans. These are extra homes that will almost certainly only be added to the significant number of houses already set to be developed, rather than be included within.

We should perhaps not forget that the number of houses now planned for development in Tewkesbury Borough would never have been so high in the first place if we had developed a Strategy for Tewkesbury on its own, during a process which would clearly have been much shorter. By now, it will almost certainly have been complete and in all likelihood have prevented the Pamington Lane Development from going ahead.

Who should we thank for that?

Pamington Lane Development: Application reaches Planning Committee

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I attended the Meeting of Tewkesbury Borough Council’s Planning Committee, and spoke to the Members when item 3 on the Agenda was considered, covering the Pamington Lane Development (Ref: 14/00972/OUT)

Following here is what said to the Committee:

Thank you Chair, Members of the Committee will regrettably already be well aware of the background of opportunistic applications such as this one, where unscrupulous developers and land owners are seeking to exploit the loopholes which exist whilst we await the conclusion of the JCS process.

As you will all be well aware, Ashchurch has been identified as a Strategic Site within the JCS, and is as such already targeted to receive well beyond two thousand new homes, in addition to commercial development opportunities; all focused to the north of the A46 at the Army Camp Site.

Whilst it has served some to suggest that this Strategic allocation would not enter the development pipeline until a date much nearer the 2031 end of the JCS Policy lifetime, I would ask that Members note that an Outline Application has already been submitted for some 550 homes and related built infrastructure within this Strategic Site.

Members of this Committee will I am sure, understand very well the nature of the statement such an Application is making about the timescale in which the Ashchurch Site is expected to be online by developers, even if that specific plan could be seen in some ways to be jumping the gun, given the information that is known publicly about the future of the Ashchurch site at this time.

The Application you are being asked to consider today is located literally on the other side of the A46 from the Ashchurch Strategic Site, but clearly not within it. In fact, if the JCS had already been rubber stamped by the Secretary of State, this site would theoretically remain untouched for at least another 16 years. The considerable impact that Development in Ashchurch is going to have on Ashchurch Village, Aston Fields, Aston Cross, Aston on Carrant, Pamington, Northway, the A46 and surrounding travel infrastructure would have been given adequate opportunity to be considered strategically, and local Residents would at least feel there was some surety in what lies ahead in terms of the way their lives are going to be negatively effected, whilst those of a few others are financially enriched.

Instead, we are here today with an Application that does not consider the longer term in any way.

It does not give deference to Tewkesbury Borough Council’s Joint Core Strategy.

It does not give financial contribution to the significant transport infrastructure developments that are already needed for the A46 and surrounding road network that everyone apart from the Highways Agency accepts is already over capacity.

It does not consider the part it will play in the wider strategic impact that the combination of developments we now know to be possible will have on all the surrounding Villages. We will all lose out if requirements such as the already growing need for a localised GP facility in the Ashchurch and Northway area are not only considered in relation to applications such as this, but also fail to receive funding from all of these developments, thereby relinquishing any unnecessary requirements being placed upon the already overstretched public and NHS purse.

Most significantly for the people who will ultimately be most effected, it does not do anything to enhance local road safety for the Residents of Pamington, who have felt so strongly against the Plans as to create an online and growing Petition. With much commuter and local traffic likely to be heading from the site to Cheltenham or via the A435, or to Stow, Evesham or further afield heading East and seeking to avoid a difficult right turn on to a busy truck road, the current speed and safety problems generated by traffic using this access-only-designated Village as a convenient cut through are not exactly going to be reduced. I would like to say that Residents have confidence in the input and recommendations received from Gloucestershire Highways, but I cannot.

Councillors; there is no doubt that where developments along the A46 between J9 and Aston Cross are concerned, the whole is most certainly greater than the sum of its parts.

Residents are looking for protection from the local Planning Authority from opportunistic development of this kind and I have to say that even if some higher Authority were to ultimately overturn a refusal made here today, at least local people will know that when it came to this Site, Local Representation actually put local people first.

I urge Members to reject this Application, knowing that the JCS more than generously provides for the housing requirements of this Borough until 2031, and that Residents should be able to expect protection from their local Planning Authority in respect of development which falls outside of this.

Thank you.

The Joint Core Strategy now reaches the Government stage this Thursday. But what happens while we wait for the Autumn 2015 Report and why wasn’t it avoided?

I would like to thank everyone who has taken the time over the last weekend and early part of this week to send e-mails to Members of Tewkesbury Borough Council concerning the Joint Core Strategy process.

The concerns raised are not lost on me in any sense. Many should have already been taken into consideration and acted upon within the JCS programme which is now being handed to the Government for final review on the 20th of November.

Many of you were hoping for change. But the very frustrating part of all this has been that the decisions that really counted were taken over a year ago.

Once a majority of Members voted the project through in early September 2013, no matter what consultations and processes have taken place since, that was basically the whole thing done and dusted, seemingly without any hope of change, unless it were to be rejected at the stage where it is submitted to the Secretary of State.

This itself is extremely unlikely. The whole JCS Process, rather like applications going through the Planning Process itself has been conducted very much as a tick-box exercise.

The modus operandi has been squarely focused upon the requirements placed upon Local Authorities by Central Government and any flexibility which might come from the interpretation which that may have allowed, has almost certainly always been used to facilitate and sure-up the three-way arrangement between Cheltenham, Gloucester and Tewkesbury which myself and other Members have long since argued has been anything but in the best interests of the people that we as Ward Councillors – and collectively as a Council – represent.

Our voices fell on deaf ears and the practical implications of what is a flawed process and three-Authority-Strategy have been manifesting in the shape of all of the ‘lightning’ developments which have either reached Application stage or are in the processes of doing so, that involve building on land which is not even included within the JCS Strategic Allocation(s). This itself is set to continue until such time as the JCS is formally approved; the Report on which is itself not due until Autumn 2015.

Put the prospect of the developments which could receive consent in the next 12 months to one side, and right around the Borough, there is clearly massive concern about the realities of rubber stamping a long-term Planning Strategy which will effectively give a green light to developers to build across a 20+ year development allocation that will see much of our beautiful landscape and Villages changed forever – when as a Borough, we are and were simply at no stage obliged to make anything remotely like such a commitment.

These kinds of concerns are no less prevalent in the Ashchurch with Walton Cardiff Ward and are probably more so. We are currently witnessing developers looking to build almost everywhere along the A46 apart from the JCS Strategic Allocation in and around the Ashchurch Camp site itself and this doesn’t consider other areas that fall behind the Camp and will no doubt have a significant impact on Northway too.

Nobody should be under any illusion that a combination of the state of the Planning System today and the avoidable time that the JCS has taken – rather than pursuing a much better and wholly expedient Policy just for the Borough – potentially makes such Applications very difficult to stop. In this specific instance alone, it now threatens the very identities of Aston-on Carrant, Aston Cross, Ashchurch and Pamington as independent communities and Villages.

People from outside both the working and political environments of Local Authorities do see the inability of the Planning System to police and enforce the very Policies they have in place, irrespective of whether it is due to the ability of a higher power to override any local decision at a higher level, or whether there simply isn’t the money available in the local public purse to pursue developers who seem to have bottomless pits for pockets where making money is concerned.

Locally, we have already witnessed one company having developed and put into use an industrial sized chicken production unit at Starveall without Planning Consent for a large part of it, once it had Consent for the initial Plan. It is more than regrettable that nobody really knows what might now lie ahead, once the JCS has been put firmly in place.

It is simply wrong that the views of local people are being ignored and where they have not spoken, that their best interests now and for the future are not being considered as they should, by all of the people who are elected to represent them.

Nonetheless, everything you all have to say and how you feel is still important, even if it doesn’t influence a decision the way you might like to see it go this time.

Keep registering your comments, objections and even support for developments – where they will benefit your Community – by contacting your Local Planning Authority and getting them recorded.

Being able to say ‘I told you so’ wont help anybody and certainly wont turn the clock back. But evidence of the strength of your feeling and the reasons why you feel that way certainly does have the ability to influence future decisions.

Better still, it could at some point help those of us who really care to change the System and benefit us all.

 

When decisions are made, it’s more often the case that there’s a right way and an easy way. At the Joint Core Strategy decision meeting on Tuesday, the right way would have been to put the interests of the Residents who live and who will live in Tewkesbury Borough first; the easy way was to choose the JCS.

With thanks to source unknown

The Elephant in the room – With thanks to source unknown

 

For those of us in Politics who have an uneasy relationship with the Party system, some decisions can simply be too big and potentially too far reaching to simply submit to flawed thinking or make poor decisions that will negatively affect the lives of many people just because someone working to an agenda has placed themselves in the right place at the right time to see it take shape.

At Westminster in the past week we have seen a vote for armed action in Syria backfire on the Prime Minister specifically because he wasn’t leading with the aim of doing what’s right for everyone in mind. Sadly, the party political format makes such events rare these days and many elected members of the Government are susceptible not only to the whims of their party leadership, but also to the advice and direction of officers and civil servants who simply shouldn’t have the power to manipulate information – not unlike the sexed-up dodgy-dossier on Iraq of Tony Blair’s – when the results of that action will dictate policy which will affect us all in ways we may never even realise.

Unfortunately, travesties of this kind do not appear to be confined to the corridors of Westminster and my own opinion is that Residents across Tewkesbury Borough may now be proved to be on the wrong end of one such event through the adoption of a preferred option of the Joint Core Strategy (JCS) for Cheltenham, Gloucester and Tewkesbury at the Meeting of the Council on the 3rd of September.

As a result of a Vote in which I was the only Member of the Council’s Conservative Group to vote against the Officer Recommendation; we may not have knowingly been making a decision of life and death and a commitment to using violence as a means to and end. But we were making a decision which will affect the experience and quality of life for the people who live, work and visit this currently beautiful Borough for many years to come.

The Council has made this decision via what many will agree has been a flawed process which looks like it has been deliberately drawn out and manipulated so that the achievement of aims which are far from what is in the best interests of the Borough could be realised – all on the basis of promoting the risks and fear of what might happen if we don’t – with an obvious caveat that we shouldn’t bother to worry about what will happen if we do.

Those flaws culminated in what some would agree could only be described as a farcical end to the debate on Tuesday evening when the Deputy Leader of the Council tabled a motion to ‘put the question’ which effectively ended the debate well before many Members had even had the chance to speak and give representation to their own Electorate, or before I and some of those Members opposing could seek Legal advice on the Mayor’s decision not to allow discussion and a Vote on an Amendment I proposed to adopt a ‘Single Core Strategy for Tewkesbury’ (please see below).

A Single Core Strategy would see an alternative plan adopted which could meet all of our statutory obligations to work with neighbouring Authorities without involvement in the JCS which is itself a direction of travel that will see disproportionately more of Cheltenham and Gloucester’s housing allocation up until 2031 squashed into Tewkesbury Borough than has ever been legally necessary or morally right if properly adopted.

There is little question that the option of a Single Core Strategy for Tewkesbury should have been tabled as a real alternative for people in the Borough for Members to consider, rather than the silent de facto version is was casually presented as to the Meeting by Officers – if the Vote on the Recommendations had failed.

The behaviour of Officers and some Members at the Meeting on Tuesday strongly suggests that the elephant in the room was that putting a question in front of the Elected Representatives of Tewkesbury Borough Council which asked them directly to state whether they were for or against a Strategy for Tewkesbury Borough itself had to be avoided at all costs. After all, the documented choice of putting Tewkesbury first would have made painfully clear just how wrong a plan is which puts the needs and desires of two other Authorities above those of our own Wards and the People that we represent.

As a Representative of the Ashchurch with Walton Cardiff Ward, I know that I have given the best voice that I could on their behalf and that I have put the interests of the Ward and Borough above those of my own or the Party that I usually sit with. 12 other Members have done the same and irrespective of their Party or Political leaning I applaude them all for their efforts and for refusing to give up fighting for the best interests of the many Residents who they represent right across the Borough, in the face of what seems to have been a wholly done deal.

We can only hope that either Cheltenham or Gloucester throw this madness out when the time comes for them to decide. But with both standing to gain so much as a result of that which Tewkesbury Residents will lose, I’m not sure that we should give that idea too much hope.

 

If also approved by Cheltenham District and Gloucester City Councils, the ‘Joint Core Strategy’ Document will go out to Public Consultation in October. Further details will be available on the Tewkesbury Borough Council Website.

 

The Amendment I proposed to the Meeting of Tewkesbury Borough Council on Tuesday 3rd September 2013, which was Seconded by Councillor Gordon Shurmer (Ind. Twyning):

I propose that the JCS is replaced with a Single Core Strategy to address the housing and employment needs of the Tewkesbury Borough Administrative Area. The relevant and core Policies together with the evidence base that has been collected to date that relate to the Tewkesbury Borough Administrative Area should be saved to ensure a speedy transition to the Single Core Strategy.

The Draft Single Core Strategy should be brought before Members at the forthcoming Full Council Meeting on the 24th of September 2013 for further consideration by Members.

It is clear that over 45% of the houses being promoted by the JCS are to accommodate house building within Tewkesbury Borough to address both Cheltenham and Gloucester’s housing requirements*. Moving to a Single Core Strategy, this figure would be significantly reduced which would be in the interests of Tewkesbury Borough Residents.

It is also clear that following the answer that was given to me on the 30th July 2013 and to the Council on 4th December 2012 that it would be ‘possible to satisfy the test’ for the duty to cooperate with a Single Core Strategy for Tewkesbury**.

 

*From the figures verbally given by Officers during the Meeting, this figure can be calculated at around 65%

**In response to Questions that I tabled at the Meeting on Tuesday, it was also then verbally confirmed by Officers that Tewkesbury Borough Council could meet its obligations to demonstrate meaningful cooperation with neighbouring Authorities within a Single Core Strategy for Tewkesbury Borough

A new Sainsburys for Ashchurch could be a great addition to the local economy; but a development like this needs to consider each aspect of the impact it will have on the lives and businesses it will affect and not just the effort it takes their customers to shop.

Sainsburys proposal to build a new store off Junction 9 of the M5 on the A46 at Ashchurch has certainly started to stir the thoughts of many in the area and not least of all amongst Residents within the Ashchurch with Walton Cardiff Ward which borders the site.

With significant housing development sites proposed within the Options of the ‘Preferred Option for a Joint Core Strategy’ (JCS) in the area, some could argue that Sainsburys are undertaking a timely and highly opportune step. Others are already drawing battle lines upon the damage which they speculate such a store would inflict upon the businesses and economy of central Tewkesbury and it is perfectly natural that such concerns need not only to be aired, but considered properly too.

As a local Elected Member, I am concerned about the impact that such a Store would have upon the lives of people living within my Ward, but also recognise that there would also be many advantages to the development coming to the area, not least in terms of the reduced travel requirement for the many local people who currently shop at the Tewkesbury Road Store on the A4019 in Cheltenham – a point not lost upon Sainsburys themselves, who readily placed information boards about the Project for their customers within the entrance of that Store.

Perhaps my biggest concern right now would be the public perception that the JCS will be adopted and that as such, the closure of Ashchurch Camp is not only a foregone conclusion, but also imminent – which at the time of publishing this Blog, it most definitely is not – and that nearby Fiddington is also sure to become host to yet another urban sprawl of the soulless nature you need only travel a few miles to witness at the North of Bishops Cleeve in the Homelands Developments.

Whilst there is a big question to be answered regarding the continuing growth in out-of-town supermarkets, I am considering this specific Proposal in terms of its impact upon the immediate area itself and therefore in isolation, rather than as part of the considerably more complicated issue of retail market share, the growth of supermarket chains and what this will mean for us all in the future. I will perhaps talk about this in a different entry.

On a practical level, study the Plans which Sainsburys have submitted to Tewkesbury Borough Council and you will quickly note that proposed changes to the A46 could create absolute mayhem with the construction of a roundabout which is clearly planned with more focus upon entry to the Store than it is in consideration of the flow of traffic in either direction.

With the Plans making no mention on the impact of additional traffic and a questionable change to traffic flow on an already difficult staggered Northway and Fiddington junction with the A46 – only part of which is light controlled – one has to wonder just how much consideration has been given to the already hideous traffic problems that we already experience, not least of all since the Highways Agency added light-controls onto Junction 9 making peak-time travel in the area a monotonous task to say the least.

On the upside, the addition of a Supermarket which really has been thought out in terms of its impact upon local infrastructure and the wider community would also bring a variety of benefits to a customer base which would go way beyond Tewkesbury and in all likelihood bring shoppers to the area who would not currently travel there and perhaps leave the M5 for any other reason.

With fuel prices keeping us all very concerned, the arrival of a new Petrol Station opposite the BP Site would certainly drive local prices down and potentially create other opportunities for smaller businesses to attract the passing custom into Tewkesbury itself which will be drawn to such a facility.

Those concerned about businesses in Tewkesbury could well be right about a loss of jobs and business closures and neither event would be one that I would wish to see in any event. But a Sainsburys in Ashchurch would arguably facilitate a massive net gain in employment, not least of all for those people seeking part-time work that may currently be impractical to consider with a shortage of this type of work available on such a scale locally.

Looking at the Plans and what they will mean for local people, on balance, a Sainsburys which has been built in consideration of its impact on the wider community – and not just within a few yards of the front gate, could well prove to be a significant boost for the area.

Whilst there are questions that require answers and issues to be resolved, working with the Company now to address these concerns to the satisfaction and mutual gain of all would perhaps be a very sensible plan indeed. It is after all in Sainsburys interests to be seen to support the communities which ‘feed’ custom into it’s Stores and Tewkesbury Town businesses could do a lot worse than to discuss the role of a new Store within the local economy in parallel with the Application Process, even as they make their arguments for its rejection.

As a local Borough Councillor representing Ashchurch with Walton Cardiff, it is in fact Highways issues that concern me most of all as the Application goes forward. I see nothing good coming to the Residents I represent from the road changes as they have so far been proposed and would go as far to say that it would not be good news for anyone who uses the A46 and roads that join from the Business Parks, from Fiddington, Northway or in fact Tewkesbury itself.

If Sainsburys are serious about winning support, they will have to raise their game considerably in considering the traffic and community issues that its construction would generate and demonstrate to us all that they have done so. The Store could prove be a great addition to the local economy; but a development like this needs to consider each aspect of the impact it will have on the lives and businesses it will affect and not just the effort it takes their customers to shop.

You wouldn’t invite your neighbours to build a remote extension in your garden and Tewkesbury Borough Council’s Planning Strategy should be exactly the same.

Sadly, the upholding of the Planning Appeal in respect of the Homelands and Cleevelands Developments in Bishops Cleeve this week has highlighted just how far away Government-derived Planning Legislation actually sits from serving people effectively at a local level. It comes as a highly appropriate reminder that when considering a ‘Preferred Option’ for a Joint Core Strategy (JCS) for Cheltenham, Gloucester and Tewkesbury, we must work to retain the greatest level of influence for Tewkesbury Borough’s future development within the Borough itself.

As I and a number of other Councillors made clear through an extensive debate when the decision was taken by a majority of Councillors to go out to Consultation on a set of ‘Preferred Options for a Joint Core Strategy’ in October 2011, there is an option which has not been openly publicised or pursued, but which exists and is very real nonetheless. An option which I have already publicly argued as being much more suited and favourable to the needs of current and future Tewkesbury Borough Residents. An option which I have no reason to doubt will benefit only the Borough itself, rather than creating disadvantage to Residents which is completely unnecessary and avoidable, whilst our two urban neighbours have everything to gain.

Whilst the public documents in circulation and even the literature circulated regarding a recent Consultation on the potential closure of the Ashchurch Camp within my Ward arguably indicate that a JCS is inevitable in one form or another, the fact remains that we could – and in my view should – proactively choose to develop and implement a Strategy for Tewkesbury on its own, or if you like, a ‘Single Core Strategy’, with the JCS being consigned to the dustbin with other local authority projects of questionable origins.

One of the great injustices of contemporary politics in this Country is the way that debates, ideas, views and just about everything political seems to be presented or rather ‘spun’ in a way which favours the outcome which is intended. It’s not a question of saying that anyone is lying and without good reason, I would never actively seek to suggest that is actually what has happened. It is simply the case that the desire to achieve any aim to which some involved in government in one capacity or another have become emotionally committed can all too easily lead to the existence of uncomfortable truths which they may not wish to openly entertain.

Equally, excuses such as ‘cost’ can come into play and prevent alternative and potentially better options from emerging, especially when they may not seem as politically expedient to embrace. So I’m sure that anyone who has read this far will know and understand that the absence of certain options, suggestions or indeed facts even innocently left absent, can quickly lead to an assumption for some that they simply do not exist.

On its own, Tewkesbury Borough Council and its Planning Committee have the ability and expertise to develop and implement a Borough-wide Policy which considers all of our housing and commercial property development needs and ‘requirements’, both now and for the foreseeable future. It is these public decision making bodies which local Residents have Elected for that purpose and who should make those very decisions – and those very local decisions on their own – without obligation or pressure from others who have no legitimate right to make such demands.

There is no Legal obligation upon Tewkesbury Borough to work within a partnership of 3 Local Authorities, effectively leaving it to have to accommodate the projected housing requirements of not just one but all three of those Authorities for the period in question. We do not and should not have to accept such excessive rates of development, especially when there is absolutely no benefit to the Borough and its Residents in being required to do so.

So when it comes to even setting development figures for Tewkesbury Borough itself so far in advance, I would argue that the only true beneficiaries from the ear-marking of development land on such a scale are developers themselves and those whose agendas have as yet to become fully clear.

After all, the rate of development needs dictated by genuine requirement in growth of population rather than lifestyle or investment choice will arguably be far less than the rates which have been suggested. Not since the Blitz of the 1940’s have we experienced a de facto requirement for housing development on any kind of industrial scale and there is no cogent argument which suggests that we are in a position with any such similarities now.

Regrettably, until changes take place which leave all Planning decisions in the hands of the people most qualified to make them in the locality within which they are to take place, we have no option but to accept that general Planning Policy has and will be derived from within Central Government. However, within that framework which already exists, Local Councillors and Planning Committee Members have the ability to ensure that they make the very best local decisions possible for the benefit of the people that they collectively represent as an independent Council.

We will not achieve this by putting the needs of Cheltenham Borough and Gloucester City before that of Tewkesbury Residents and allowing others to build in the future, where today there is not a single reason for us to allow them to do so.