Tag Archives: Ashchurch with Walton Cardiff

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.

 

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.

 

 

Starveall Lane issue now resolved as new Trackway given green light…

Starveall 7I am able to confirm that Permission was granted by Tewkesbury Borough Council earlier today for the new Track or Roadway to provide access to the planned Chicken Farm at Starveall.

Furthermore, I am very pleased to confirm that the Approval has been given on the basis that we had all been hoping and working for, with Conditions in place which will see Goods Traffic to and from Starveall Farm travelling along only the most Southern part of Seven Bends and directly to and from the A435 – thereby avoiding Pamington.

Reaching this point has taken effort on the part of many and I would again like to thank Ashchurch Rural Parish Council for allowing me to speak at length to Residents and the Council at their March Meeting. This in turn has led to the dialog between Mr Hern and Mr Hill which has enabled this option to come to being materially; a solution which I believe will prove to be the best for all in the circumstances.

My thanks also go to TBC Planning Officers, who I feel have made every effort necessary to assist and give full consideration to the questions and concerns which have been raised not only by me, but also by Residents as this has progressed.

I understand that work is likely to begin on the Track or Roadway very quickly. I have also been advised that Mr Hern will be directing construction traffic in the same way as traffic will ultimately travel to Starveall Farm.

To see the Decision Notice issued today, please click below:

1400307FUL notice

Starveall Lane – Work to protect Gas Main to begin shortly

Starveall Gas Line

With Starveall Lane having been a great concern to many over recent months, the Application by FC Jones and Co. to build a new and dedicated track or roadway to the Starveall Chicken Farm Development is under consideration.

As hoped by all, the Application does – I understand – incorporate all the steps necessary to keep Goods or HGV Traffic travelling to or from the Farm out of Pamington on the B4079 and therefore accessing the Farm via the most Southern end of Seven Bends directly out to and from the A435.

However, irrespective of the plans which will hopefully soon remove all chance of Staveall Lane being used for Chicken Farm Traffic, it became clear when exploratory borehole work was done, that the Gas Main which crosses the Lane does not have the level of protection necessary for any heavy traffic and that as such, it may not be impossible that even heavy agricultural traffic in use by any of the Farmers using Starveall Lane could inadvertently damage the pipe – with consequences that we could only really sit and imagine.

With this in mind, Contractors working on behalf of FC Jones & Co. are likely to begin and/or carry out the work necessary to protect the pipeline at the point it crosses Starveall Lane during early June.

As some of you will already be aware, this work would have been necessary before the Lane could have been developed and it would be easy to draw the conclusion that this Development work is now going ahead.

I have been assured that it is not and I am hopeful that Planning will be given for the new track/roadway in the coming weeks – at which point the issues concerning the use of Starveall Lane for any traffic travelling to Starveall Farm – other than agricultural vehicles in the strictest sense – will be dealt with finally and formally through the Planning Process and the award of Planning for the new access.

I continue to monitor developments with the Planners and also Mr Hern of FC Jones & Co.

If you do have any concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me direct.

Starveall Chicken Farm & Pamington Village: A solution to the access issues is now genuinely possible

As many of you will by now be aware, I attended the Meeting of Ashchurch Rural Parish Council this evening and took the opportunity provided by the Council for me to give my Borough Councillor’s Report to provide the following announcement and information concerning the Chicken Farm at Starveall and the use of Starveall Lane:

Starveall 10

Madam Chair, if I could beg your indulgence, the news and information that I would like to share with both the Council and those Residents present may take me a few minutes more to cover than I would normally need for normal Borough business.

I do however feel that given the very specific circumstances and nature of the matter, this is perhaps the best place and time to bring this to everyone’s attention and feel sure that in a just a few minutes time you will agree with and understand my reasons for doing so.

To all of you listening, I would respectfully ask that you let me cover all the points I have ready to give you tonight before asking questions or making comments.

I will attempt to cover all eventualities that I am aware of within what I am about to say. I will also publish the full version of this on my Blog later this evening and make a copy available to the Parish Clerk for inclusion in the Minutes of this evenings Meeting.

Madam Chair, Councillors, Ladies & Gentlemen; over recent weeks and for a good time before, it would be fair to say that there has been an incredible amount of frustration, disbelief and dare I say it, bad feeling amongst many concerning both the Plans for a Chicken Farm at Starveall, and the change in use and anticipated reconstruction of Starveall Lane.

Before I go any further with what I have to say, I must with some regret make very clear right now that whatever happens as a result of this Meeting and the content discussed herein, there is currently no Legal device or approach that any one of us can now employ that would guarantee that the construction of the Chicken Unit at Starveall itself will not go ahead.

Indeed, many of the people present have learned through the process of this specific Application that the Planning system is arguably very detached from the realities of the issues which affect local people and the localities in which they live. We would probably all agree that our experiences to date well and truly give the lie to the concept of Localism in its strictest sense.

The fact is that the Planning system is arbitrary at best and the injustices of this one-size-fits-all approach to development are amplified beyond any reasonable doubt by the indifference demonstrated by political groups and their Members within Local Authorities who now make decisions based upon what they perceive to be the inevitability of a situation, rather than giving a voice to issues which in just one situation like this one in Pamington might bring about positive changes for the many more planning applications which will affect communities across the Country to come.

It’s wrong, but it’s real and I now have to ask for you all to accept that with Planning Granted, the Chicken Farm itself will most definitely be built, and as things currently stand, Starveall Lane will be developed and all poultry related traffic will come down Pamington Lane from the A46 and then use a heavily reconstructed and covered-over Lane that has until now provided pleasure for far too many people to mention, over a period which extends way beyond the lifetimes of any person in this room.

So with this in mind, you will now most likely be wondering what cheery news I as your Borough Councillor could possibly bring to this table that would make my request for you all to come this evening in any way necessary.

I can only begin by saying that in Planning terms, rarely does the opportunity for a Community such as this to get a ‘second bite of the cherry’ after the gavel of planning-permission-granted has fallen.

Whilst the Chicken Farm itself must now be considered a fait accompli in real terms, I can now tell you all that this is not the case as far as the use of Starveall Lane is concerned.

I must in fact tell you that there is now a very real second and alternative option that I am about to table to you this evening, which has the potential to take all of the poultry related traffic well away from the Village and thereby change the whole dynamic of what has become a very dark situation that we as a community have until today faced for some weeks without any hope of change.

Some people will be historically aware that the possibility of building an access route away from the Village was originally a consideration of FC Jones & Co and the Partner taking responsibility for this Development specifically, Mr Kinsey Hern.

However at that time – which we are talking about in terms of years, rather than days or months – and I will add, somewhat understandably, there was perhaps no will on the part of anyone opposed to the plans to take any action which might in someway suggest acquiescence or indeed support for the construction of the Chicken Farm – which as I am at pains again to say is now an eventuality that we cannot in any way influence.

It was therefore perhaps always assumed thereafter, that access would depend on the use of Starveall Lane, which I now believe it fair to say has become a much bigger issue in Pamington than the Farm itself and especially so after it became clear that whilst any potential breach of the terms of the Planning could instantly be seized upon, there was in reality absolutely no way that any of us can prevent the changes coming to the Lane, unless Mr Hern should himself consider doing so, which today Ladies and Gentleman I am very pleased to be able to tell you that he and his Partners are willing to do.

I have delayed requesting the opportunity to discuss this possibility with you all until I had reached a stage through a series of discussions and meetings, where I have found myself confident beyond the balance of probability that what is now being tabled represents the very best solution for Pamington, when everything is put completely in context – something that I will now aim to do for all of you.

I will cover the points of the proposed alternative. I will then discuss the issues that this may raise. I will then consider the ways that these further issues may well be addressed and will add right now that this will actually be in ways which are certainly not located behind closed doors.

The Proposal:

1.) To seek permission to build a completely new track or roadway running East from the Chicken Farm site. Immediately beneath the Southern property boundary of Pamington Court Farm and exiting or joining the B4079 on the second of the Severn Bends as you travel North from the A435.
2.) To seek an amendment of Condition 10 of the existing Planning Permission concerning Hours of Operation from the existing 7am to 9pm for deliveries and collections excluding Sundays and Bank Holidays so that there can be:

  • Access for deliveries between 7am and 9pm Monday to Friday, 8am to 1pm Saturdays and under exceptional circumstances, that these be allowed to take place on Saturday afternoons, Sundays or indeed Bank Holidays if for any reason the feed supply chain should have broken down – for instance there is literally a break down at the feed mill which interferes with what I understand to be quite a precisely coordinated delivery and supply operation.
  • Access for collections only be given flexibility to allow for activity outside these times to include during the night. This would I understand equate to no more than 20 nights out of 365 other than in the most exceptional of circumstances.
Copyright FC Jones & Co. Diagram reproduced for information purposes only and should only be considered as a guide and not as an authoritative source. Information is subject to change.

Copyright FC Jones & Co. Diagram reproduced for information purposes only and should only be considered as a guide and not as an authoritative source. Information is subject to change.

The issues:

  • Building this track or roadway without the involvement of any other land purchase – however small, will I understand require a left-handed exit from the proposed trackway or roadway to the B4079.
  • This specific eventuality will I understand require all poultry related traffic to exit and potentially enter the site via the Eastern edge of Pamington, travelling to and possibly from Aston Cross.
  • This would inevitably lead to the poultry related traffic travelling along the Eastern fringes of Pamington Village on at least the Northern journey which essentially moves a critical aspect of the problem from one end of the Village to the other – albeit with more appropriate road access and the added dimension that lorries would be moving slower in consideration of animal welfare issues – but with the requirement and therefore acceptance of greater flexibility of the times when HGV’s would be accessing the Chicken Farm.

It is safe to say that Residents at one end of the Village will therefore be breathing a great sigh of relief at the prospect of what the proposal on the table brings. However, its coming to fruition without any adjustment would inevitably lead to as much concern – if not more – for residents at the other.

Addressing the issues:

The reality of and chronology of the events which have led us to this point are difficult to describe as they include many different perspectives and have clearly caused varying levels of distress to many Residents, which as your Borough Councillor have concerned me greatly throughout.

Indeed I regret that I was only given the opportunity to interject fully in the period immediately before the Application first went to the Borough’s Planning Committee and at a point where there was really little more that I could do but advise on what was most likely to happen given the information I had available to me at the time.

Nonetheless, I have taken every opportunity, as I might add has Councillor Gordon Shurmer who also became involved at a similar time, to explore every possibility and approach which has remained, even after Permission was granted. This itself has latterly led me into dialogue with Mr Hern and the position I find myself in here today.

Fundamentally, the proposal on the table is a better option just as it stands right now for the Village, given everything that I know and understand to date.

For this reason I would ask that you all understand that I will have to be supportive of it in the sense that if it can be achieved – it will be a far better solution and situation for the Village as a whole, rather than the conclusion which will otherwise be faced by the people in this Village who I represent.

However, I am not overlooking the very real impact that the proposal will have on Residents at the Eastern end of the Village and I have to say that somewhat thankfully, neither is Mr Hern, who both accepts, would like and is prepared to undertake the work necessary to build an entrance and exit to the proposed trackway or roadway which I understand would then require all HGV traffic to avoid the Village completely and route it to the A435, thereby removing the poultry related vehicles and the subsequent threat of noise from Pamington completely.

Image courtesy of FC Jones & Co. For information and guidance purposes only.

Image courtesy of FC Jones & Co. For information and guidance purposes only.

This however will require bridges to be built where today and for some of us present there will be very little will to do so.

To make it work, there will need to be a level of direct engagement and dialogue which rises above the personal feelings of animosity and grievance that I know and understand to exist, and recognises that there is a solution which through collaborative working and a spirit of getting the very best from this situation for everyone in the Village as it stands – can actually be achieved.

In very basic terms, this much better solution is dependent really upon just one thing.

Were it to be the case that more land were available for purchase – which is basically a relatively small triangular area at the West side of the proposed entrance and exit to the track or roadway, I have been given a commitment that subject again to the obvious approvals, FC Jones & Son would not only be willing to change the proposals for a left-hand exit from the site, they would also be happy to develop the entrance so that it is geared for HGV access and egress to the A435, and to as such take all steps necessary to make this happen.

So before I go any further, I would like to at this point make clear that I believe that if this can be achieved and gain the necessary approval, this solution should be seen as an even bigger positive step beyond the proposal already on the table, which itself should really be viewed in context as a gift to the Village when all things are considered.

Taking the proposals that one step further is akin to a quantum leap from the situation that on arrival at this Meeting, many of you will still have been expecting that the Village was guaranteed to face for the future and we would all perhaps be well served in attempting to find benefit from an appreciation of that.

For just that reason alone, I will be happy to facilitate any discussions necessary to achieve this aim on the understanding that the good will which is now clearly evident will be reciprocated on all sides and that there is a genuine desire on the part of all involved to get a solution which is genuinely the very best that we can achieve in the circumstances for everyone in Pamington.

The trade off:

The reality of this situation is that you, the Villagers want Heavy Goods Traffic kept as far away from the Village as possible and certainly off Starveall Lane, which it is safe to say that everyone wishes to be maintained and kept in it’s current state indefinitely.

On the other hand, Mr Hern appreciates this and has by his own admission stated to me that he had never anticipated that the issues surrounding Starveall Lane would create the level of animosity that it has, and which he certainly acknowledges.

On one part, Mr Hern is very keen to address this situation in the hope of moving things positively forward with you all. I do believe he is genuine in his wish to do so and to take the opportunity to address the issues over Starveall Lane whilst he is also seeking to address some of his own concerns which relate to the restriction of flexibility for what is effectively a 24/7, 365 day a year business, which may even seem less intense in terms of HGV access journeys through the area with the amendment for Hours of Operation that he would in parallel be seeking.

Beyond the stage we are here at today, Mr Hern is furthermore prepared to go the full distance – subject to the necessary support and permission being given or granted – and give us all a solution which resolves issues which otherwise and subject to the choices of people in this room, could still remain completely unresolvable.

Even the proposal as it stands is not a cheap option for FC Jones & Co financially and when all aspects of constructing a completely new trackway or roadway are considered, the financial cost will I understand be around double that which it will be to resurface Starveall Lane and place passing areas in Pamington Lane – which I must stress will remain the course of action if either alternative should for any reason prove not to be viable.

Any environmental consideration such as loss of existing hedging will be more than offset by a planned planting scheme which would cover the entire length of the new trackway or roadway and I understand this goes way beyond the expectation of what would be required in these circumstances.

However, probably one of the biggest wins as a result of seeing this proposal through is that the Applicant has made the commitment following the receipt of advice given by Tewkesbury Borough Planning Officers that in receipt of and as part of the process of Planning Permission being granted to build the track or roadway in either format, FC Jones & Co will enter into what I understand to be a commitment that would be facilitated through what is known as a Unilateral Undertaking under the Planning Act to rescind all rights of access for poultry related traffic on and along Starveall Lane.

I hope you will all agree that this is not an offer to be taken in any way lightly.

The current situation:

As we meet here tonight, I can now tell you that considerable effort has been going on behind the scenes and especially so over the past two to three weeks.

This has involved not only Mr Hern and his Advisors who I can now tell you have made considerable inroads towards these Proposals in terms of ecological surveys, land purchase and traffic surveys.

Approaches have also been made to the various Agencies with required involvement such as Gloucestershire Highways and although they would of course be consulted formally as part of the Application process which will be necessary, I understand that in principle there are unlikely to be objections to either form of the Proposal based on what is known to me at this moment in time.

The efforts to date have also involved considerable input and advice from Borough Officers who have helped me with my work on this in what have been far from day-to-day circumstances. My thanks goes to all of them for taking on board the comments and concerns that I have raised in respect of the previous Application process and the subsequent approach taken to dealing with all issues, which regrettably may not be fully apparent to all of you at this stage.

The proposal – as it stands with access travelling via the East of Pamington – is basically ready to go.

It has however been held up by Mr Hern at my request, so that I could bring this before you all today in the hope that we can together hopefully find the necessary will and means to facilitate a position where the Applicant can pursue the very best option for everyone concerned,  with access to and from the A435.

Without change and therefore your support, it is currently planned for this Proposal to be submitted this Wednesday as a full Planning Application to Tewkesbury Borough Council. On this basis you will therefore appreciate how quickly we will need to work together with Mr Hern to take the additional steps necessary and for a genuine commitment to be made to doing so in order for the process to be held up that bit longer whilst any further accommodations are dealt with and put in place for the benefit of all concerned.

Conclusion:

I have little option but to say that Pamington has what is genuinely and in effect the opportunity to get the very best possible out of a bad deal.

I know that you don’t want the Chicken Farm at Starveall, but that ship has well and truly sailed.

What we have on the table here represents what in these circumstances is the silver bullet that I know many of you and not least of all The Hill Family and Pamington Residents Association have been looking for over a period of many painful weeks and months.

I have taken the time to look at and consider all of this and even gone as far as to approach Mr Hern concerning remedies for the damage on Starveall Lane which has caused such recent levels of concern.

Even though this specific matter itself would normally be an issue for Gloucestershire Highways, given our understanding of some of those involved and the way the process works, it may take many weeks to obtain a result which could otherwise be delivered much sooner and potentially in a much more agreeable way.

I am confident that with your support, a new approach is now possible and imminently achievable which will as good as sort this one issue out in perhaps just the few days to come, whilst potentially giving everyone the sleep filled nights that I am sure you are now after as part of a much bigger and much happier solution for all.

I must conclude by stressing that nothing I have tabled here today is in any way guaranteed.

It is subject to a great many things, not least of all the support of you all in principle and throughout the necessary Legal processes which must be cleared in response to the proposals which will be made.

It will inevitably require from some of you a willingness to engage in dialogue which nobody will believe will in the first instance to be easy, but if done fairly and considerately, will benefit each and every one of the people here and within the wider community which is involved.

Without support of any kind, there remains a very good chance that Starveall Lane will soon be in use as a quasi-industrial roadway.

With just a little will and support, we might see Starveall Lane saved and traffic moved to the East of the Village.

However with all the support given that we all can possibly provide, there is a genuine chance that Starveall Lane will remain just the same, and what is more, that Pamington will never have to witness the poultry related traffic travelling to or from the Chicken Farm whilst it is built or for the period of its operation thereafter.

I can only end by asking you all most sincerely to see this opportunity for what it really is, and consider how I am sure you were all feeling about this before I began speaking.

Thank you all.

 

Update:

From the response at the Meeting there is clearly support to move forward and after initial conversations with both Mr Hill and Mr Hern, the first Meeting to discuss next stages is likely to take place in the next couple of days.

Thank you for your support.

 

 

Pamington, The Chicken Farm and damage to Starveall Lane

Starveall 6

Local Residents meet a Photographer from the Gloucestershire Echo at one of the damaged points on Starveall Lane, 9am Friday 21st March 2014

It’s been a long week In Pamington. With little more than a month passed since the highly controversial decision of Tewkesbury Borough Council’s Planning Committee to grant Planning Approval for a Chicken Farm at Starveall (9 votes to 8), nobody – not even the Council itself – had been expecting exploratory or ‘test’ bore holing to begin in the area of the Site.

With so much of the concern of Residents being focused upon the restructuring and ‘commercial use’ of Starveall Lane, which travels nearly a mile from the nearest road, everyone in the Village had assumed that no work would take place on the Site, before the Lane itself had been developed.

They were therefore shocked to find an articulated lorry reversing along the whole length of the Lane before this had happened, and absolutely horrified when the long-predicted damage to the surface immediately appeared.

Receiving e-mails from people in Pamington over last weekend, there was little I could do to seek clarity on what was actually underway and whether it broke the terms of the Planning Permission as many people already thought.

It actually took until Wednesday and a meeting with the Borough Solicitor to gain full clarity on the position and to say I felt as frustrated as everyone in Pamington would be an understatement indeed.

Amazing as it will seem to those reading, as the testing has taken place outside the official development Site, in Legal terms it is considered to be unrelated to the Development. The fact that were it not for the Development going ahead, there would have been no need for the testing to be taking place gives no grounds in current Planning Law for arguing that the Terms of the Planning Permission have been in any way breached.

The very painful pill to swallow is that the arbitrary nature of the way that the Planning Decision was made and observed to be made by many residents has also left local people woefully exposed to what happens next. Planning Legislation in the times of ‘Localism’ actually gives very little thought for the issues which relate most closely to locality. The system is flawed and there is simply no justice when people are having this kind of experience and find themselves at the mercy of the one-size-fits-all and quixotic mentality of London based policy making.

Whilst this is the reality of this specific situation, the approach adopted not just by Tewkesbury Borough, but also by the majority of Local Authorities seems at best defeatist. At worst, it appears completely contrary to the purpose for which Council’s were created to exist and against the will and the best interests of the very people who elect them to take those responsibilities on their behalf.

The real depth of this story is that people everywhere are being failed because those with the responsibility to deliver something better on their behalf are not stepping up to the mark to do it, simply because they see that rules prevent them from doing so.

The rules aren’t working for the very people they are supposedly there to serve and that will stay the same until organisations that will be noticed by Central Government when they do act, actually start to do so.

Local Authorities can do this, but their political relationships with the Government simply mean that they won’t. When it boils down to it, it is political affiliations, groups, parties and all efforts being focused on keeping them in power which are making every day and real life situations like the one which has unfolded in Pamington so very hard for normal people living their lives to bear.

Moving forward, accepting that the Chicken Farm will go ahead is now something that everyone in Pamington has to face.

However, I am continuing to follow up with the Planning Department very closely and hope that interventions from Organisations such as those with responsibility for the Gas Pipeline which Starveall Lane crosses will at the very least bring some positive influence upon the approach to the way that the development takes shape from here.

My thanks goes to Pamington Residents Association for their continuing efforts to keep everyone regularly informed.

 Starveall 7

Starveall Farm: Planning Policy and the centrally-derived system of deferral, qualification and elimination is putting Local Planning Decisions in the hands of bureaucrats and gives a lie to Localism…

Pamington Residents await Members of Tewkesbury Borough Council's Planning Committee on 4th February 2014.  Members Granted Planning on a majority of 9 to 8

Pamington Residents await Members of Tewkesbury Borough Council’s Planning Committee on 4th February 2014. Committee Members Granted Planning on a majority of 9 to 8

‘Localism is nothing but words’ is a phrase that many people living in Pamington will no doubt be using for a considerable time to come after Tewkesbury Borough’s Planning Committee voted by a narrow margin earlier today to permit the construction of a Chicken ‘Farm’ at Starveall.

After a lengthy debate in which nearly all Members of the Planning Committee asked questions, commented or debated the Plan, it was clear that the decision would be close.

Pamington Residents who attended and commented to me afterwards had not expected to hear 2 different Members tell the Committee that there was in effect no point in objecting because the Plan would go through on Appeal anyway. They had certainly not expected to see some Members of the Committee choosing not to vote and I can certainly understand why they were frustrated and felt completely let down when the Decision was then made on a majority of 9 votes to 8.

I have made little secret of my concerns about the arbitrary nature of the Planning System and the way that a centrally derived policy of deferral, qualification or elimination can effectively dismiss the decisions of Local Planning Committees themselves.

But irrespective of what different Government Agencies, Authorities or NGO’s have to say regarding their very subjective views concerning the relationship of proposals with their own Policies, the reality is that no voter or member of public – who doesn’t have knowledge of the System –  is expecting any decision but that of the people they Elected to represent them, to carry the overwhelming weight in a Planning Decision. Circumstances that would actually reflect localism in their literal sense if not its truest form when borne out.

Having followed the Plans for this Site since I first received documents outlining the proposal from the Applicant’s Agent in 2012, through Parish Council and Public Meetings, right up until I attended the Site Inspection Panel Meeting on the 23rd of January, I had no doubt that I would speak when the time for a Decision came, and this is what I said to the Planning Committee this morning:

“It would to my knowledge be quite correct to state that other than the Applicant himself, Residents and Businesses from the area are universally against this application and what it represents in terms of the blight on the landscape, the environmental considerations, the potential related impact upon flood issues in the locality and beyond, and the access issues which all accompany a sizeable commercial project which is unquestionably profit led.

Let me be clear in saying that I am not against business, commerce or any private enterprise doing the best that it can with the resources that are available to make the very best of the opportunities that are open to it. I am however against any enterprise doing so when there will be a direct and negative impact upon the quality of living for others or a potentially serious escalation in the threat of injury or harm to the public which cannot be justified for any purpose other than for a savvy business to make money and because distantly set central government legislation simply allows them to do so.

Many of us are simply struggling to understand how the junction from Pamington Lane on to the A46 by Ashchurch Camp can be considered to be safe for the access and egress of what may be some of the biggest heavy goods vehicles which are permitted on the UK’s roads without very specific exemptions. Members will have surely noted the pictures provided by residents of a vehicle of similar size and proportion pictured to these at this junction which is on a stretch of road as notorious for existing safety concerns as it is for the accompanying traffic volume issues which I understand may already be critical to the viability of several high profile sites in the Ashchurch with Walton Cardiff Ward within an implemented JCS.

Put simply, nobody who knows this site locally believes this junction is safe for this kind of commercial traffic to access Pamington even now, and that’s before absolutely anything else gets built.

The rising volumes of traffic on the A46 which will inevitably come with the developments that residents in this Ward are having to contemplate even without including the proposal here today will make serious accidents all the more likely, and that is before the introduction of what will be heavy goods vehicle manoeuvres of a seriously traffic flow-obstructing and visibility reducing nature.

Surely Members will recognise that local knowledge; what is in effect situational objectivity, and common sense must override the tick-box, distant and highly subjective approach which is arguably being employed by the Highways Agency who – let’s face it, are not best known for their touchy-feely nature or for employing any discernible level of collaboration with key stakeholders.

Take any allowance given to the emotional buy-in that will remove value from the arguments of local people and the fact still remains that neither this Junction nor Pamington Lane are suited to the proposed level of heavy goods traffic use which will come with Planning being approved and would therefore be likely to suffer a significant reduction in road safety for all users as a result.

Before I conclude, I believe that it should also be of great concern to this Committee that by granting approval to this application, I understand that Members will also grant de-facto approval for the construction of an extensive roadway to the site with no less than 5 passing places between Pamington lane and the farm, which are sufficient to accommodate vehicles of such a size.

Such permission will see the destruction of what is arguably little more than an historic green lane which has existed and given pleasure to local people for many generations. I now understand that approval will lead it to be bulldozed and gravelled over simply because it is a public right of way and because Gloucestershire Highways can authorise such a construction for its entire length and up to a width of 30 Feet at any point, should they choose to do so. What exactly is fair to everyone but the applicant about that?

Mr Chairman, I appreciate very well how the Planning system works and the interpretive nature of the Members responsibility which is all too often misinterpreted by those who innocently perceive that the buck always stops within these four walls.

However, applications such as this illustrate just how flawed a system is that has the ability to allow applications like this to gain approval just because planning is effectively based on a London-generated, one size fits all mentality.

The reality is that whilst different, to the residents of Pamington, building a chicken farm at Starvall is as real as the threat from building on floodplain to residents living in Tewkesbury Town or building on the Greenbelt to people who have homes around Churchdown.  Local people are expecting local decisions to reflect this.

I ask all of you to consider what I have said closely and to reject this Application, which is not in the interests of the majority of the people who reside, work, run businesses or travel through this parish and is not in the interests of the people who already have homes and lives in this ward or in the future may do so.”

I remain firmly of the view that local issues that only affect local people should be dealt with at local level, unless there is a matter of genuine national interest which overrides them.

Sadly and most regrettably, this didn’t happen today.

Adam’s related Blogs:

Flooding: A truly democratic system should allow for changes in Planning Legislation which will limit the damage which future flooding events have the power to cause

A Chicken Farm in Pamington may suit the needs of one business, but will do little to bolster the quality of life for anybody else living there

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 Chicken Farm in Pamington may suit the needs of one business, but will do little to bolster the quality of life for anybody else living there

Thursday December 13th 2012 saw not just a first, but third meeting held locally to discuss the pending Planning Application made on behalf of FC Jones and Co, to build a ‘Poultry Unit’ at Starveall Farm near Pamington.

Emotions ran high amongst what was a very large local audience for a Parish Planning Meeting, made up of Residents, Farmers and those representing local Businesses not only from Pamington itself, but also from Ashchurch, Claydon, Tredington Fields and the surrounding areas. It would be fair to say that the Applicant and their Agent Bruton Knowles’ unsolicited decision to step back from their request to take part in the Meeting only hours before, probably led to a far more productive evening for those present as questions were methodically asked of Borough and County Officers, whilst a list of growing concerns were tabled.

As a local Elected Member of Tewkesbury Borough Council representing the Ashchurch with Walton Cardiff Ward, it was clear from the moment that the Applicant’s ‘Community Consultation Scheme Summary’ hit my doormat in September that the Plan would be at best controversial, and it wasn’t long before the true level of local concern over what some consider to be the possible creation of an industrial sized ‘chicken factory’ became very clear indeed.

From my own perspective, each and every one of the issues which have been raised to date are very real indeed and many in isolation should be justification enough for the rejection of a Scheme which could negatively impact upon real lives in many ways. However it is once again inappropriate use and traffic levels along Pamington Lane which cause the greatest level of concern, when misuse of an ‘access only’ road by through traffic, speeding and littering are already a major and historic concern for residents and Councillors alike.

Adding regular and repeated Heavy Goods traffic onto a road which simply wasn’t constructed with this purpose in mind would arguably create an additional and therefore unacceptable level of danger to road users, pedestrians and even horse riders in a rural backwater where it genuinely does appear to be the case that it is only the Herefordshire-based Applicant who is in favour of the change.

Equally, access to the Starveall site itself is yet another issue which is far from clear as the Applicant does not own the historic, picturesque and wildlife-rich trackway to the site, which I understand has never required any form of upgrade since it was used only by horse and cart, and would require further development to be genuinely fit for purpose – a matter which has not even been agreed with the landowners.

It is in fact probably on this note and that of the Applicant’s and their Agent’s approach where much of my own early concerns were raised when it became immediately clear upon written request that the ‘Reports’ which would have substantiated the statements made on the ‘Consultation’ document stating that all areas of concern had been addressed were basically not then available.

Minded that many of the serious environmental-impact related questions raised by participants at the December Meeting should have already been at this stage answered by the existence of this apparently robust set of Reports, many will share similar concerns that the last of the Applicant-based Consultation material was not made available on the web until what I understand was just a matter of days before the Application was submitted.

It would perhaps on this basis be easy to conclude that a meaningful consultation did not therefore take place with all those who would be affected and likely that many would also conclude from the chain of events that comprehensive support for the Application may have simply just been assumed.

Ashchurch Rural Parish Council’s Planning Meeting was held and facilitated that evening in a highly professional manner which is a fitting endorsement to this comparatively new, but highly proactive Council. The Committee unanimously voted against both the Application for the Poultry Unit and an associated Domestic Dwelling, and the matter now passes to the Planning Committee of Tewkesbury Borough for decision, probably early next Month.

Environmental factors and Road Safety will surely be the biggest points for consideration, but I also hope that impact upon the quality of life of those who already call these Villages home will be clearly in mind.

After all, it is not just today’s residents who may be affected by the plans. The poignancy of the future for the Ashchurch Camp is illustrated only too well by the recent opening of the Ashchurch View Care Home, where residents currently enjoy open and freshly fragranced field views across our beautiful countryside.  Should the site be closed, few would doubt that its development as part of a Joint Core or the preferable Single Core Strategy for Tewkesbury would follow. But even large scale Developers are unlikely to give good money for land which people may no longer pay top rates for once developed and this may well be a fact that the decision makers would wish to ponder.

Members of the Planning Committee will consider the full list of concerns that have been raised along with the evidence that has been provided. We can only ask that the Councillors concerned draw a similar conclusion to Residents and formally decide that Pamington and the surrounding areas simply don’t need an industrial sized Chicken Farm.

To read about the outcome of the Application, please click here

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.