Category Archives: Planning

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.

Pamington Lane Development: Planning Application Update

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I have just received the List for the Applications which will be considered at the next Meeting of Tewkesbury Borough Council’s Planning Committee, which will be held at 9.00am on Tuesday 3rd March 2015, at the Council Offices, Gloucester Road, Tewkesbury.

The Application concerning the Pamington Lane development (Linden Homes) is listed – Ref 14/00972/OUT and is likely to be considered immediately after both of the outstanding Applications which relate to the unauthorised construction at Starveall Farm – Ref 14/00873/APP (For the dwelling) and Ref 14/00770/FUL (for the additional farm buildings).

From the notes I have been given, I understand that the Officer Recommendation for the Application (which is for Outline Permission) is to Permit.

(Please note that Officer Recommendations may not reflect the decision of the Planning Committee on the day.)

I hope to speak at the Planning Meeting when all these Applications are considered and intend to reflect the comments and concerns that have been raised with me about the proposal and its impact on Pamington and the local area when I do.

If you have anything that you would like to bring to my attention that you believe you may not have already done so concerning this Application, please do e-mail me on councillor.tugwell@tewkesbury.gov.uk .

The Planning Meeting will be open to the general public and seating is available in the Public Gallery. Please go to Reception when you arrive, if you are planning to attend.

 

Aston Fields Proposed Development: Ashchurch Rural Parish Council to discuss at open Meeting on 18th February

Ash church Village Hall Ashchurch Rural Parish Council have arranged an open Meeting to discuss the Planning Application for 550 Dwellings off Aston Fields Lane. The Meeting will be held at Ashchurch Village Hall, on Wednesday 18th February 2015, at 7.00pm. Please click here for a copy of the Agenda . The Parish Council are encouraging Residents to attend and become involved in the Meeting which will help the Council to consider its response to the Consultation which is taking part as part of the Application Process which is underway at Tewkesbury Borough Council (TBC). Whether you attend or not, comments on the Application can be made online using the TBC Planning Portal, by following this link . I plan to attend and will be happy to discuss the Application either before or after the Meeting. image: grcc.org.uk

Aston Fields: Outline Application for 550 Homes

Barratt-Developments-buil-006I can now confirm that an Outline Application has been made and formally listed with Tewkesbury Borough Council for land off Aston Fields Lane, listed under Reference Number 14/01245/OUT, and can be viewed on the Borough’s Planning Portal by following this Link.

This is an Application which has already been discussed by many local people and I have been made aware of the views of many local Residents. Irrespective of whether we have talked about this Proposal before or not, I will be pleased to discuss any concerns that Residents may have and can be contacted by e-mail at councillor.tugwell@tewkesbury.gov.uk. I will also be attending the next Meeting of Ashchurch Rural Parish Council which is scheduled to be held later this Month.

As with all Planning Applications, if you wish to make your views known, the best advice I can give to everyone is to write or e-mail the Planning Department. Your view is always important and even if the result of an application turns out not to be how you would like it to have been, your input will have been put on record, and could turn out to be useful in the future.

image: theguardian.com

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.

 

Pamington: Planning Application for 150 Homes off Pamington Lane

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I have been advised by the Planning Team at Tewkesbury Borough that an Application has been submitted and is now confirmed as valid fort he erection of up to 150 dwellings including access, landscaping, open space, and associated infrastructure with all matters reserved other than access on Land off Pamington Lane, Pamington.

The details can be found on the TBC Website using the Planning Reference 14/00972/OUT.

This is an Application which has already been discussed by many local people and I have been made aware of the views of many local Residents. Irrespective of whether we have talked about this Proposal before or not, I will be pleased to discuss any concerns that Residents may have and can be contacted by e-mail at councillor.tugwell@tewkesbury.gov.uk

As with all Planning Applications, if you wish to make your views known, the best advice I can give to everyone is to write or e-mail the Planning Department. Your view is always important and even if the result of an application turns out not to be how you would like it to have been, your input will have been put on record, and could turn out to be useful in the future.

Claydon: Planning Application for Solar Farm

Picture of a solar farm (thanks to www.telegraph.co.uk). Please note that this image is for illustrative purposes only and may not reflect either the design or aesthetics of the Proposed Development

Picture of a solar farm (thanks to http://www.telegraph.co.uk). Please note that this image is for illustrative purposes only and may not reflect either the design or aesthetics of the Proposed Development

I have been advised by the Planning Department at Tewkesbury Borough, that an Application has been received and is now confirmed as valid for an 18.2MW Solar Farm on land to the South of Claydon Farm, Claydon.

The details can be found on the TBC website using the Planning Reference 14/00785/FUL.

I will be pleased to discuss any concerns that Residents may have and can be contacted by e-mail at councillor.tugwell@tewkesbury.gov.uk

As with all Planning Applications, if you wish to make your views known, the best advice I can give to everyone is to write or e-mail the Planning Department. Your view is always important and even if the result of an application turns out not to be how you would like it to have been, your input will have been put on record, and could turn out to be useful in the future.

How much more development in Ashchurch before the traffic problems are taken seriously?

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Traffic on the A46 at Ashchurch near Junction 9 of the M5, July 2014

With the Joint Core Strategy’s (JCS) final Public Consultation Phase only having began earlier this week, it really seems quite incredible that a Developer has already began moves towards building over 500 homes and a School on the Northern side of Ashchurch Camp.

Earmarked as part of the JCS Strategic Allocation which includes the Camp, comments suggesting that the Developer concerned may have jumped the gun are already well in circulation. However, it could be asked if this Plan gives a better illustration of the approach which nearly all commercial developers are employing, and one which certainly doesn’t fit with phrases they use to describe their plans in their publicity brochures, such as ‘homes which are much needed by the community’. This does after all come hot on the heels of two other developments in the immediate vicinity which will themselves supply around 300 new homes in the Ashchurch Rural Parish – and which without the JCS being formally ‘rubber stamped’ are regrettably no less likely to go ahead.

So even without the 2000 or more homes earmarked for the Ashchurch Camp at some point between now and 2030, just this Parish alone stands to absorb the better part of a thousand homes with not even the merest hint of comparable job creation in the area of a kind which would necessitate even a fraction of this level of development in the immediate area any time soon.

Sadly, this can only lead people living around the Ashchurch with Walton Cardiff Ward to conclude that these homes – if built – will be occupied by commuters who will most likely have 2 cars per household, thereby adding around perhaps 1500 cars to either the A46, the B4079, the roads around Northway or in fact all of them each morning, evening and basically any other time.

Many Residents are already feeling dumbstruck by the quick-fire succession of opportunist Developments along the A46. With an even bigger one that nobody had expected to hear sight nor sound of until the fate of the Camp was definitely known, now on the cards, it is the realities which surround the traffic problems on the A46 which are causing universal concern.

At Monday evening’s Meeting of Ashchurch Rural Parish Council’s Planning Committee, the Developer now carrying out consultation on building 45 homes South of Ashchurch Village was more than happy that the Highways Agency had expressed no concern with regard to the impact their plans would have on the A46, despite the experiences that many of us have almost daily.

With the Representatives present stating to the Council that they had been advised their Plans would have no excessive impact on the capacity of the road network – basically an indication that Highways Officials believe the roads can take more traffic without any major change – it is perhaps little wonder that Developers are apparently falling over themselves to get their Projects built before they find themselves having to contribute to what will at some point become a very expensive process of extensive restructuring the existing Roads or building a new by-pass of some kind – if that indeed remains possible by that time.

My views and approach to the JCS are well known by Residents and I take no pleasure from seeing the chaos which this flawed Strategy is causing to Communities right across Tewkesbury Borough, even before it actually comes into being.

I, like a number of other Tewkesbury Borough Councillors made clear at a variety of points in the process that the best solution for Residents was a Strategy which focused on the Borough – not least of all because of the delays which would inevitably be caused by working with two other Authorities which themselves had much more to gain by drawing out the process for as long as it takes for them to get the best solution to their own Development problems. That unnecessarily delayed process which is being used as a significant window of opportunity by Developers continues, and it seems to be all at the cost of Residents in Tewkesbury Borough and the Ashchurch with Walton Cardiff Ward in particular.

We can only hope that when these Proposals reach the Borough Planning Committee, they are rejected on the basis of what has already been promised by this Policy, and in the case of the Development North of the Camp, held back until such time as the Community will not be expected to experience perhaps years of inconvenience and enhanced levels of danger because the infrastructure doesn’t exist that will lead to Residents experiencing otherwise.