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Pickles tightening Green Belt in Gloucestershire: So where are our new houses going to be built?

PUBLISHED: 15:56 18 November 2014 | UPDATED: 15:56 18 November 2014

Scott Winnard

Scott Winnard


Bruton Knowles development specialist Scott Winnard said: “Communities secretary Eric Pickles went out of his way this week to reassure Gloucestershire voters there would be no wholesale incursions into the Green Belt after he has re-ignited debate on where local authorities in Gloucestershire will be permitted to develop new housing sites after assuring voters the county’s Green Belt was not up for negotiation.

“This is despite the fact the majority of new homes due to be delivered across Cheltenham, Tewkesbury and Gloucester have already been approved by the local authorities concerned, and are in the Green Belt, as part of their Joint Core Strategy.” Visiting Cheltenham to support the forthcoming Tory election campaign, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government was quick to leap to the defence of Gloucestershire’s green spaces. Scott Winnard continued: “His declaration that Green Belt land should not be used to meet the housing shortfall may endear him to many ‘Not In My Back Yard’ campaigners and could be seen as simple electioneering. “But it does raise the question as to where the 30,000 new homes earmarked for the county are actually going to be located within the Local Plan. “Do we have sufficient brownfield sites to meet the figure put forward in the Joint Core Strategy document, or are we inevitably going to have to press ahead with new housing developments on some of the more contentious Greenfield sites?”

Mr Pickles said planning inspectors and local councils had been reminded that the Green Belt is of such importance that even if JCS housing allocations can’t be met, it does not give developers the whip hand in terms of securing planning consents. “This is fine but for the fact Gloucestershire’s Green Belt sites have already been endorsed by the relevant local authorities. “It remains to be seen where Mr Pickles’ declaration leaves the debate, especially as the gap between what Gloucestershire needs in terms of new homes and what is being brought forward in development schemes is widening month by month.”

Latest figures suggest house prices across the West could rise by up to 25 per cent over the next five years. But despite these figures the number of planning applications being approved is actually dropping – the latest figures suggests they are lagging some 19 per cent behind the total number of consents given back in 2008. “While we believe priority should certainly be given for new housing schemes on Gloucester’s Brownfield land the reality is there are very few available sites and it remains to be seen whether these sites will deliver the new homes required under the Joint Core Strategy.”

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