Agenda item

Local Development Scheme 2023

Report of the Leader, Councillor Rowena Hay


The Leader introduced the report and explained that Local Planning Authorities are required by law to prepare, publish, and maintain a Local Development Scheme (LDS) setting out the timetable for preparing statutory Development Plan Documents (DPD), which form the Local Plan.

The Local Development Scheme 2023 will deliver the Cheltenham, Gloucester and Tewkesbury Strategic and Local Plan (CGTSLP). In simple terms this will draw together four core elements within a single examination; collectively this being the CGTSLP and made up of:

1.         the strategic plan policies (incorporating any generic policies that are relevant across the Cheltenham, Gloucester and Tewkesbury administrative areas);

2.         Cheltenham local plan policies;

3.         Gloucester local plan policies;

4.         Tewkesbury local plan policies.

An updated Partnership Agreement will provide the safeguards that sets out the terms and conditions for the operation of the partnership. This would include a clear protocol that individual districts would not seek to fetter the discretion of the other district authorities in the drafting of the local plan policies.

The Council’s current LDS was adopted in 2022 and is in need of updating.  There are a number of reasons for this including;

               Cheltenham’s local plan policies are directly linked to the overall land allocation figures relating to employment, housing and retail – these are out of date.  Of particular relevance are the housing numbers and in regard to this we are in the position that Cheltenham does not have an up-to-date plan in regards housing delivery. 

               The Planning Service Review gave strong recommendations (extract below) which emphasised the value of joint working and the importance of making progress on plan making.  With specific regards to plan making the clear message was  ‘do not delay’

               Plan making is resource hungry in respect of officer resource, consultancy time and costs to facilitate this, public consultation and examination on public.  The approach now set out via the LDS has sought to think creatively about how we

               manage the financial cost of plan making in context of local authority budgets & impact on wider financial demands – to support more predictable and consistent spend/flattening out spend

               build efficiency and effectiveness in preparing the evidence base required to meet our statutory obligations

               facilitate staff recruitment and retention

               develop specialisms and enhance depth– save costs (long term) by less reliance on commissioning of consultants

               respond robustly to Government change/uncertainty

The Leader reported that sovereignty of decision-making is critical to all three councils, and this is being embodied in our governance and approach, as illustrated in the diagram in the report.

Finally, the Leader emphasised that the council was working within the realms of what was best for the residents and communities in the town.

Members thanked the Leader for all her hard work on this important, exciting and challenging project, appreciating the need for speed and looking forward to working collaboratively with our neighbouring councils to maintain high standards in planning and provide the decisions we need.  They made the following points:

-       as the other authorities are not as advanced as CBC, which already has SPD documents and policies in place, Cheltenham is well placed to take the lead;

-       thanks to the Leader and officers, particularly Gareth Edmundson and Tracey Birkinshaw for their intense work and creative, can-do thinking on this, making the impossible possible, and providing an exciting opportunity to raise standards by working together with neighbouring authorities;

-       climate change in particular does not respect boundaries and this provides a welcome opportunity to work together effectively to protect the planet and set a high bar across the board;

-       CBC has traditionally led the way with innovative planning solutions, and can take forward its high environmental standards, such as protecting local green space and achieving net zero housing.  These can feed into the documents, and will result in more strategic planning than has been achieved previously, through deep partnership with our neighbours.  It’s hoped that those at national level will be impressed by this innovative approach;

-       the success of Ubico, which now serves every district in Gloucestershire, with the Cabinet Member for Waste, Recycling and Street Services now chairing the Gloucestershire Resources and Waste Partnership, demonstrates CBC’s ability to lead on important initiatives, particularly green ones;

-       the importance of community involvement and protection of local green space in the preparation of future plans is welcomed, and it will be good to see how the Florence Convention, which gives communities the right to have their say in respect of new building developments, can be incorporated into future versions of the plan.

In summing up, the Leader referred to the recent government announcement on new planning flexibilities allowing councils to compulsory purchase vacant town centre buildings and convert them into homes. She queried how this could rejuvenate the high street when there were no details on how this could be financed by local authorities.

She noted government interest in what Cheltenham, Gloucester and Tewkesbury were proposing and the provision of a person to work with our three strategic teams. This was very much welcomed.


1.            the updated Local Development Scheme for Cheltenham Borough,attached tothe report at Appendix2, is adopted, to take effect immediately. This is the programme for preparation of the Cheltenham, Gloucester and Tewkesbury Strategic and Local Plan (CGTSLP) which includes;

·                     strategic plan policies covering the entirety of the area of Cheltenham, Gloucester and Tewkesbury administrative areas (this will include any relevant generic policies that affect all individual areas equally), and

·                     local plan policies addressing any locality specific issues of the individual administrative areas

2.            authority is delegated to the Director of Community & Economic Development, in consultation with the Leader, to prepare the Local Development Scheme for publication, correcting any minor errors such as spelling, grammar, typographical and formatting changes that do not affect the substantive content of the Local Development Scheme.



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