Plans refused for 850 homes on unallocated greenfield Gloucestershire site

A Gloucestershire local authority has resolved to refuse plans for a residential development of up to 850 homes on unallocated greenfield land to the east of Tewkesbury, in line with a recommendation from planners.

A masterplan visualisation of the Tewkesbury scheme
A masterplan visualisation of the Tewkesbury scheme

Applicant Robert Hitchins Ltd sought permission for 850 homes plus a primary school and a local centre including up to 2,000 square metres of high street uses. Also proposed are open space, play areas, and supporting infrastructure on the 55 hectare greenfield site.

Tewkesbury Borough Council members said yesterday they were minded to refuse the outline application.

An appeal has already been lodged with the Planning Inspectorate on the grounds of non-determination, according to the council, and an inquiry scheduled for June 2019.

A design and access statement submitted with the application said the development would "accord with the principles of high quality design and best practice to create a townscape that is varied and sympathetic to its environment". 

However, according to a planning report, the application prompted a series of objections from parish councils and local residents.

Ashchurch Rural Parish Council objected based on the size and scale of the proposed scheme, traffic impact, landscape impact, and loss of amenity to local residents.

In the report, planners advised that the proposed site has not been allocated for housing, is not on previously developed land, and "is essentially in a rural location outside of any built up area". 

The proposal "is not considered to meet the strategy for the distribution of new development" and is therefore in conflict with the development plan, the report said.

Officers also advised that an emerging masterplan for the Ashchurch area has identified the land for employment uses.

In addition, the application proposed an affordable housing contribution of 35 per cent. The joint core strategy requires a minimum 40 per cent contribution of affordable housing in Tewkesbury. 

While officers acknowledged there would be "significant benefits arising from the development", approval of the scheme would "undermine the council’s ability to undertake a coordinated and plan-led approach to the longer term planning and development of the area," they said.

A joint core strategy for Cheltenham, Gloucester and Tewkesbury was found sound in October 2017 and adopted in December. The strategy identifies a shortfall of 2,455 homes against the requirement for the borough.

Officers advised that any urban extensions to Tewkesbury could only be identified through a review of the plan.

In December 2017, Robert Hitchins won approval on appeal for another proposed urban extension in Tewkesbury after the council failed to determine its application.

In January this year, Tewkesbury councillors rejected plans for 500 homes near Cheltenham after concluding that the scheme did not accord with the newly-adopted joint core strategy.

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