Tetbury set to be swamped with housing after losing fight against Highfield Farm and Berrells Road developments
2:18pm Thursday 14th February 2013 in News
TETBURY has lost its fight against plans to build around 300 homes on greenfield land in the town.
Cotswold District Council refused applications for a 250 home estate at Highfield Farm and a 39 home estate near Berrells Road, both on greenfield land in Tetbury.
Today, the secretary of state for environment, food and rural affairs endorsed the planning inspectorate’s recommendation to overturn CDC’s refusals on both developments.
This follows on from a Planning Inspectorate decision in January to allow an appeal which paves the way to develop 50 houses on land at Kemble.
CDC leader Cllr Lynden Stowe was angry about the decision.
“This is another sad day for the Cotswolds. The Planning Inspectorate are behaving like a gang of gun-slinging outlaws in the Wild West and are totally ignoring local people.
“These decisions show a total disregard for the concept of localism and the views of the Tetbury community, both of which have been virtually ignored while favouring the developers. "
Cabinet member Cllr Barry Gibbs, one of the three ward members for Tetbury, said: “The community, parish and district councillors and other parties were united in opposition to these proposals, especially since there are approved brownfield options which have had universal acceptance in the town .
This controlled planning by the local councillors has been trampled over in this decision.
The government says it is committed to allow locally set housing targets, but in Tetbury – and in the case of Kemble too - we feel that decision-making has been taken out of our hands even when it is clear that, working with local residents, we are best placed to make judgements about future development in our own back yard.
"Tetbury is now faced with a potential of nearly 450 new houses - a 15 per cent increase in the population - and, in the case of the greenfield sites, without any contribution to the town's infrastructure or community facilities.”
Cllr Stowe added: "The Localism Act was meant to allow ordinary people to have a say in future development in their areas. Instead, all the emphasis has been placed on a national drive to find more space for housing even when there are valid objections to specific sites at the local level.
“Let’s be clear - it’s appeals inspectors and not elected Cotswold councillors who are allowing the Cotswolds to be concreted over. I have previously taken the matter up with our Member of Parliament, Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, and it looks like the appeal process completely ignores the views of local MPs too.
“The Council fully appreciates the requirement to meet local housing need, and we are working proactively to support communities while identifying and delivering new sites for housing. Through community-led planning initiatives and in negotiations with developers, Town and Parish councillors and residents, communities are securing improvements to services and facilities as a direct result of new development.
"In other words, we cannot be accused of NIMBYism – we realise that some change is inevitable but we are trying to manage this even though we are hindered on a daily basis by the mixed messages and 'U-turns' coming out of government."
Cllr Sue Jepson, cabinet member for planning, said: “We believe that a forthcoming objective assessment of our housing numbers should counteract the serious threat to the landscape and heritage of the Cotswolds stemming from unwanted development. This will also support the on-going work to set out the strategy for future development in the district over the next 20 years through a new Local Plan which is due to be published for consultation in a few months time.
“In the meantime, the Council will continue to support local communities participating in the planning process, and we will do our best to influence where future developments take place despite the significant setbacks we have experienced in Tetbury.”
CDC has engaged an independent housing expert to scrutinise its housing numbers. Technical modelling and data is being reviewed, including new evidence such as the latest census figures, with a report due in the next few weeks.