Anger as Tetbury loses fight with Highfield Farm and Berrells Road developers
TETBURY will soon be swamped with new homes after a double appeal loss which could have ramifications for the whole of the Cotswolds.
Devastation was widespread in Tetbury this week when it was revealed the town had lost its fight against plans for nearly 300 homes on greenfield land.
Environment secretary Owen Paterson backed a planning inspector’s recommendation to overturn Cotswold District Council’s refusal of a 250 home estate at Highfield Farm, off London Road, and 39 homes on land south of Berrells Road.
The crux of the decision was that CDC had failed to demonstrate a robust five-year plan for development, which should have been completed in 2010, and the council had shown “persistent under delivery of housing in the district.”
Based on the secretary of state’s report, CDC should work towards a minimum figure of 2426 new homes in the district over the next five years and the council will need to build an extra 600 homes than previously thought.
A CDC spokesman said: Tetbury town and CDC councillor Stephen Hirst (Ind) said: “These numbers will lead developers to believe it’s open season in the Cotswolds.”
Cotswold District Council leader Lynden Stowe
He added: “There’s now a huge amount of development coming to Tetbury all at the same time and we have an infrastructure already straining to cope."
The appeal decision follows recently approved plans for 124 homes on brownfield land at the SIAC site, plus 50 sheltered homes and a care home complex, stacking up the number of new builds in Tetbury to more than 500 properties in total.
Katy Lane, a member of Stop Tetbury’s Excessive Planning Sites (STEPS), said: “What a sad, sad day. The next thing will be the huge extension of Tesco, more tarmaced green fields for essential parking, more flooding, more pollution, less countryside, less wildlife, less character, less history… less space.”
CDC councillor Barry Gibbs (Con, Tetbury) said the town had backed brownfield developments to protect its greenfield sites, but this controlled planning had been “trampled over” by the secretary of state’s decision.
“Tetbury is now faced with a potential 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,” he said.
CDC leader Cllr Lynden Stowe (Con, Campden-Vale) blamed the planning inspectorate, who he said were behaving “like a gang of gun-slinging outlaws”, for the appeal loss.
“Let’s be clear - it’s appeals inspectors and not elected councillors who are allowing the Cotswolds to be concreted over,” he said.
“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.
Cllr Sue Jepson, cabinet member for planning (Con, Campden-Vale), said a new local plan was due to be published for consultation in the next few months. It is unknown when the final plan will be completed.
She added that an independent report on housing numbers, expected in the next few weeks, should “counteract the serious threat to the landscape and heritage of the Cotswolds stemming from unwanted development.”
A CDC planning spokesman said: “Government guidelines have changed constantly and this has resulted in delays on the part of CDC - and many other local authorities in the country - in producing local plans. We are working hard to resolve this issue as soon as possible.”
He added that the council had a number of concerns regarding the inspectors' report and was seeking professional advice before making a decision on the next appropriate steps.