Cheltenham Borough Council
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Agenda and minutes

Venue: Council Chamber, Municipal Offices

Contact: Rosalind Reeves, Democratic Services Manager 

No. Item




Apologies were received from Councillors Coleman, Holliday, Ryder, Williams and Walklett and Councillor Murch and Councillor Colin Hay had advised they would be arriving late.


Declarations of Interest


Councillors Fisher, Harman, Colin Hay (when he arrived at the meeting), Sudbury and Wheeler all declared interests as members of Gloucestershire County Council and indicated that they had been granted dispensations from the Standards Committee to participate and vote in the meeting.


Councillor Baker declared an interest as the chairman of the Cheltenham Football Club who used a training ground in the buffer zone at Swindon Village and announced his intention to leave the meeting at this point.


Councillor Dan Murch declared an interest as a member of Hatherley and the Reddings Cricket Club which is within the JCS boundaries and part of the designated greenbelt area.



Communications by the Mayor


The Mayor welcomed all the members of the public in the gallery.


Communications by the Leader of the Council


There were no communications from the Leader.


Public Questions pdf icon PDF 153 KB

These must be received no later than 12 noon on Wednesday 12 October



Question from Adrian Kingsbury to the Leader, Councillor Steve Jordan


Within the NPPF Section 83, there are clear criteria for the function of Greenbelt and it clearly states that Greenbelt may only be revised under ‘exceptional circumstances’.


Upon review of the HM Planning Inspectors Preliminary Report, it is stated within Sections 5 & 6 that such ‘exceptional circumstances’ have been demonstrated, yet the report does not define what such circumstances are. The Inspector’s Interim Report made no further justification other than refer back to the previous report.


However the Preliminary Report does state in Section 69, that “The AMEC GB Assessment of September 201165 considers all the Cheltenham and Gloucester GB land at a high level against the five purposes of including land in the GB66. It does not consider sustainability or landscape issues, but is purely an assessment against the purposes and function of GBs. I am satisfied that the methodology used is appropriate and that the report is robust.”


It continues in Section 110 that “According to the AMEC report, this cluster is critical to preventing the sprawl of Cheltenham and, towards the south, the merger of Cheltenham and Gloucester117. The segments to the south are NE1 and NE2. NE4 is further north. Nonetheless, the report specifically says that this segment makes a significant contribution to the land separating Cheltenham and Innsworth118, thereby playing an important role in the separation of

Cheltenham and Gloucester.


With such clear expert guidance can you therefore please detail the criteria and the assessment of how the Inspector determines that there are now exceptional circumstances for release of the Greenbelt identified as West Cheltenham despite the contrary comment within the preliminary report?  



Response from the Leader


During the examination detailed evidence was heard over a number of sessions on both the Green Belt sensitivity of the site and the potential for development which would meet both economic and housing needs at West Cheltenham. The agendas for these sessions, and the documents produced in relation to them are available on the JCS examination webpage, particularly JCS Green Belt papers EXAM 142 and EXAM 196.


In determining whether exceptional circumstances exist, the value of the Green Belt must be balanced against the need to positively seek opportunities to meet development needs in our area. These opportunities should accord with the JCS spatial strategy and national policy. In assessing these needs it has been established that our need exceeds the urban capacity of Cheltenham to accommodate this growth without causing substantial harm to the character of the town. Further information on this can be found in the JCS Matter 7 statement on Green Belt on the JCS website.


The JCS authorities have considered strategic allocation options at West Cheltenham through the plan making process since the Broad Locations report in 2011, and allocation options were considered in 2013. Whilst the Pre Submission Plan identified the land for safeguarding for future development, the Hayden Sewage Treatment plant which  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.


Member Questions pdf icon PDF 67 KB

These must be received no later than 12 noon on Wednesday 12 October



Question from Councillor Chris Nelson to the Leader, Councillor Steve Jordan


The JCS Transport Strategy Evidence Base was only released on 10 Oct, just 2 days before the deadline for questions to Council.  This is simply not good enough and makes it very difficult to have a proper debate on JCS transport matters next week.  This late release of key transport strategy information has been a regular feature of the JCS throughout the last couple of years. 


We will also have the situation that when the JCS next goes out for public consultation in November, we will still be waiting for the release of the 2013 Central Severn Vale base year Saturn model and new 2031 forecast models (also due in "November" but it will not be until Jan/Feb 2017 that we will have a model based on the 2031 developments and the associated traffic mitigation).  Without that critical transport information we will be unable to fully consider the transport impacts of the JCS and its supporting Transport Strategy and to determine if their respective policy requirements are likely to be satisfied.


Why is it that the JCS Authorities seem incapable of managing the release of key transport planning information in sufficient time to inform the democratic process of review?



Response from Cabinet Member


Please see also answer to public questions 6 -9 on transport modelling.


It was agreed at the hearings that we would utilise the 2008 model to determine the mitigations necessary and consequently a transport strategy for the JCS to review the new sites as proposed in the main modifications. This has been completed and is what will be consulted upon.


With reference to timing of the transport evidence clearly this is not ideal although is not entirely within the control of the JCS Authorities. The work being done via the County Council is not a straight forward technical analysis as both they and Highways England need to review the outputs for accuracy before anything is issued.


Councillor Nelson asked the following supplementary question:


I and a number of the public questioners are only asking for a 3 month delay to the public consultation, to ensure the transport solution and its £750M ++ of mitigation measures can be fully assessed by the public.  It is all about the need for due diligence.  Although I have full confidence in Inspector Ord generally, on this one area I am very uncomfortable with her almost implicit confidence in GCC Highways and Highways England.  Why is it not in the public interest for a short delay to the next public consultation, which is effectively the public's last opportunity to scrutinise the transport solution (apart from the final public hearings, where people may not be able to attend)?


In response the Leader disagreed that that the next public consultation would be the last opportunity as the JCS was an iterative process. When any applications were put forward for West Cheltenham then all transport issues would be considered before any approvals were  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.


Gloucester, Cheltenham and Tewkesbury Joint Core Strategy- Main Modifications Report pdf icon PDF 150 KB

Report of the Leader

Additional documents:


The Leader of the Council introduced the report and reminded Members that the Joint Core Strategy (JCS) was the strategic planning document being prepared jointly by Gloucester City, Cheltenham and Tewkesbury Borough Councils to provide a framework for meeting the development needs of the area over the plan period from 2011 to 2031. He explained that in June this year the Councils met to note the Interim Report of the Inspector, and the key points for change she identified through it. An overview of her findings was presented to that meeting and the initial response of the Councils to that report agreed. Following this meeting public hearings were held in July and the Inspector’s Note of Recommendations made at the hearing session on 21 July.


The focus of this meeting, and Council meetings at Gloucester City and Tewkesbury Borough Councils, was to consider the proposed main modifications to the June 2014 Pre-Submission JCS which represented the changes the JCS Councils consider make the plan sound and capable of adoption. These modifications would then be made available for public consultation and form part of the emerging plan policies for the purposes of development management. Public consultation would be undertaken for an eight week period expected to begin in November. The Inspector would receive the full responses to this consultation and consider them in January 2017. The Leader explained that the Inspector had already confirmed that further hearings on the main modifications would take place after the public consultation which was expected in February 2017.  The three Councils would then meet to formally adopt the Joint Core Strategy in the summer 2017.


The Leader then highlighted the following changes which were proposed through the main modifications:

·         Transport data - the evidence available indicated that the modifications were achievable. The data, produced by Gloucestershire County Council via its contractor Amey, dated from 2008, however would be updated when new data was released in the New Year. The Leader highlighted that for the first time reference had been made to Junction 10 of the M5 as a mitigating factor which was something that all parties agreed was needed for the local area.

·         Link road to the West of Cheltenham - proper connections were required and further work would be undertaken to focus on the detail of this.

·         Overall housing requirement of 35 175 dwellings between 2011 and 2031 including a 5% uplift to boost affordable housing delivery and flexibility in housing supply. Whilst officers presented evidence to question the justification of the 5% uplift to help deliver the required number of affordable homes, the Inspector strongly believed that this was based on evidence and national planning policy and guidance. This was therefore considered a matter of soundness and should be included in the proposed modifications.

·         The North West Cheltenham Strategic Allocation was reduced in capacity to 4,285 dwellings as part of the main modifications to allow for local green space in Swindon Village now shown on the indicative maps.

·         The Leckhampton Strategic Allocation  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.


Any other item the Mayor determines as urgent and which requires a decision


There were no urgent items.