THE Mayor of Cirencester has called for better legal protection to ensure a high quality of delivery if the proposed 2,350-home Chesterton development goes ahead.

Mayor Nigel Robbins said he was concerned that there is "no legal guarantee" to ensure quality delivery is maintained over the 20 years it could take to complete the site.

He was speaking on Thursday at an examination hearing to determine the soundness of the Cotswold draft Local Plan, of which the Chesterton scheme is a proposed strategic site to take much of the district's housing quota.

Cllr Robbins said Bathurst Development Ltd [BDL] "are a very high-quality team and I am sure they will do their very best to ensure the best quality of delivery".

But with the demands of meeting a five-year housing supply looming, he said he feared it "will mean that if there is any kind of slippage in delivery, the temptation might well be to rush things".

He said, people overseeing the implementation of the scheme, as well as builders and trustees, "will come and go" over the years.

But "there is no legal commitment to absolutely guarantee over a period of many years that the quality is maintained throughout".

Gregory Jones QC, representing Cotswold District Council [CDC], said: "In order to ensure we have the proper high-quality infrastructure, having the single location, with landowners such as we have, minimises that risk."

He added: "We have a great reliance on Section 106 obligations, which can be delivered on a comprehensive site like this; it brings that robustness of certainties."

David Jackson, of Savills, said: "BDL is unusual in this respect that they are a landowner but also the master planner and developer, so they have a long-term interest, they have overseen planning, and will oversee implementation throughout its full extent, so there is a consistency in terms of implementation."

He went on to say that a community management organisation, comprising residents, as well as members of the town and district councils, and BDL, will be established "early on".

This will "help build a community and ensure it is engaging with the community as the development goes forward".

In response, Cllr Robbins said: "I would like to see that organisation have proper legality to make sure with the district council that Section 106 agreements are properly followed up.

"We have had concerns recently about enforcement regarding Section 106 and other obligations on developers. We don't want that to happen in this case."

He added: "The second point is, the trustees are the driving force behind the Bathurst estate, their interests are not synonymous with those of the town."