Cheltenham Borough Council
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Agenda item

West Cheltenham Cyber Central garden community Supplementary Planning Document

Report of the Leader

Minutes:

The Leader introduced the Golden Valley Development Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) which outlined the opportunity to deliver a national exemplar, world class cyber facility, as well as being a highly accessible and sustainable development.  The Leader noted that the SPD at Appendix 2 was the correct version but that the covering report had been amended.  The recommendation had been amended to seek adoption rather than approval by the council.  He explained that the SPD covered the area in the JCS, as well as the safeguarded area and emphasised the need for a masterplan in place for this exciting opportunity for the town. 

 

The national support that this project had garnered emphasised the importance of the site and as it crossed into Tewkesbury Borough Council (TBC) boundaries, there had been close collaborative working which would see TBC consider this very same document on the 28 July.  Both authorities needed to adopt this SPD for it to come into force.  Widespread consultation had been undertaken on the SPD, informally at the end of last year and then formally in January 2020 for a period of 5 weeks.  This report and accompanying SPD took account of stakeholder and public engagement together with representations received during the statutory consultation and a full schedule of comments received and subsequent amendments to the SPD was provided at Appendix 5, but the Leader noted that some viewpoints were diametrically opposed and therefore impossible to draft a document that addressed these opposing views.   Once approved by both CBC and TBC, the SPD would become a material consideration to the determination of future planning applications.

 

The site was next door to GCHQ and cyber was already important for the town, with Cheltenham being second only to London in terms of the level of cyber business.  This represented a fantastic opportunity, not least because it could benefit the entire community, some areas of which had higher levels of deprivation and as such it was vitally important that it benefited the whole community in terms of jobs, affordable housing, as well as the climate change agenda.  At this stage he noted the ‘Excellent’ accreditation by Building with Nature.  He did ask that members, when looking development plans, be mindful of the fact that CBC owned only part of the site that was being talked about, not all of it, with Severn Trent the owners of some parts.

 

In closing, he highlighted that Gloucestershire County Council had secured £22m of government funding, the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) had re-allocated £1.6m to ensure that all cycling routes were connected and Great Western Railways were in the process of confirming funding for a cycling route out of the station and to this site.  Finally, he acknowledged the importance of community involvement and though he pledged that this would continue, he was not yet sure what this would look like going forward.

 

The Leader, with support from the Director Planning, provided the following response to a member question regarding housing numbers at this site.  They explained that the JCS allowed for 1100 houses on this site, based on a simple calculation, however, following a site capacity study as part of the more detailed master planning, this figure is now estimated at 2370.  The reference Cheltenham Borough Homes had made to 3000 homes included 1354 that could come forward on the safeguarded land, though this would require a review of the JCS. 

 

The ward member for Hester’s Way, whilst welcoming the document and the exciting opportunities ahead, was concerned that higher numbers of houses would result in lower eco standards, or prove unsustainable for developers in terms in the financials.  She also went on to endorse the comments of the Leader in relation to the importance of community engagement.

 

In summing up, the Leader acknowledged that it was essential to retain some green space on this site and reiterated his commitment to involving local communities in the process.

 

Upon a vote it was RESOLVED THAT

 

 

1.    The Golden Valley Development Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) as provided at Appendix 2 be adopted.

 

2.    Authority be delegated to the Director of Planning to make any minor editorial changes to the approved SPD in terms of formatting, presentation and accuracy prior to final publication.

 

 

Supporting documents: