2,000-home Gloucestershire urban extension passed in line with new strategy

A major urban extension including more than 2,000 homes has been given the go-ahead in north Gloucestershire in line with the sub-region's brand-new joint core strategy.

Gloucester: Javid backs urban extension
Gloucester: Javid backs urban extension

In decision letters published just before Christmas, communities secretary Sajid Javid endorsed inspector Martin Whitehead’s recommendation to allow developer Robert Hitchins’ proposal for a new neighbourhood at Innsworth, on Gloucester’s northern edge.

The scheme comprises up to 1,300 homes, 8.3 hectares of employment uses including a neighbourhood centre, an office park and a business park, a primary school and various other community facilities.

Javid also approved Robert Hitchins' plans for up to 725 homes, a local centre, a primary school and associated community facilities on an adjacent site at Twigworth, on the A38 north of Gloucester.

The schemes were considered at a conjoined public inquiry in June, after Tewkesbury Borough Council failed to determine the developers’ application for the Innsworth scheme and refused permission for the Twigworth project.

Since the inspector submitted his report to the secretary of state in August, both sites have been formally removed from the green belt and identified as a strategic allocation mainly to meet Gloucester’s overspill housing needs in the joint core strategy (JCS) for Cheltenham, Gloucester and Tewkesbury.

In October, the JCS examiner found the councils’ strategy sound, subject to modifications. The strategy was formally adopted by Gloucester City Council, Cheltenham Borough Council and Tewkesbury Council on 11 December.

Javid accepted that Tewkesbury Borough Council could show a five-year supply of housing land, so relevant saved policies on housing supply in its 2006 local plan could be afforded full weight.

However, he agreed that the local plan had been superseded by the JCS and that Tewkesbury district’s favourable land supply position should not prevent needs arising from the city of Gloucester from being taken into account.

In approving the developments, Javid gave moderate weight to harm to the area’s character and appearance and to loss of best and most versatile farmland, and a "small amount" of weight to their impact on air quality.  

On the other hand, he gave moderate weight to their housing and social benefits and considerable weight to their economic benefits, as well as some limited weight to their environmental benefits.

A draft neighbourhood plan for the Twigworth area published last month was given very little weight. In the Innsworth case, no neighbourhood plan has yet been drafted.

Robert Hitchins was represented in both appeals by planning consultancy Pegasus Group. 

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