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Concerns over flooding and traffic problems at new Ashchurch retail outlet

By Gloucestershire Echo  |  Posted: March 09, 2013

By MICHAEL YONG

CLEARER PICTURE:  Sarah Spencer and Allyson Wilson  chat to Christopher Haslam,  Robert Hitchins development director, about the plans for the retail centre, right

CLEARER PICTURE: Sarah Spencer and Allyson Wilson chat to Christopher Haslam, Robert Hitchins development director, about the plans for the retail centre, right

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FLOODING and traffic congestion were the biggest concerns of residents over the planned retail outlet in Ashchurch.

Blueprints for the shopping and garden centre have been on display at Ashchurch Village Hall.

And people living close to the spot have been giving their feedback to developers after taking a first look at the proposals.

A 48-acre site in Ashchurch, off junction nine of the M5, has been earmarked for the new outlet by Robert Hitchins Ltd.

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The centre will offer up to 70 shops stocking clothing, sports, leisure gear and household items. Alongside the shops would be a garden centre with parking space for 2,000 cars.

While many people have welcomed the plans, they admitted they were cautious of potential flooding and traffic problems.

Linda Franks, 59, from Tewkesbury, said: "I think it will be beneficial to Tewkesbury, bringing people to the town, and lots more to the town centre.

"I'm sure it will offer a great retail experience for visitors."

Tony Garston, 53, from Tewkesbury, added: "It's a fantastic idea. It will help regenerate the whole area.

"Flooding will always be a concern for residents. The developer has to make sure it does not happen, and work with the Environment Agency to sort out any problems."

Lee Thompson, 46, from Tewkesbury, said he was impressed by the plans.

He added: "It is something needed for this area. It'll attract people to Tewkesbury and that's great.

"I'm still concerned about traffic. It is very close to junction nine of the M5, which is notorious for traffic buildup and accidents. "I think it will be a problem.

"If they don't get it right, it is going to have an impact."

Peter Amies, drainage consultant with Phoenix Design which is working with the developers, said discussions have taken place with the Environment Agency and Severn Trent Water about the issue of flooding.

Plans showed the development would be located in Flood Zone One, the lowest flood risk area, which has a less than 0.1 per cent change of flooding.

It would also be set above the flood plain and a sustainable drainage system would be put in place to manage surface water run-off.

The drainage system would release water from rainfall back into the environment via ponds, ditches, permeable paving and underground storage.

The public consultation will finish at noon today.

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6 comments

  • tewkman  |  March 11 2013, 1:26PM

    The lower half of these fields was like a lake a few weeks ago when we had a flash flood. With all the hard surface and roofing it will only make the flooding problem worse.

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  • jas37  |  March 10 2013, 11:24AM

    This development would surely inflict considerable damage to Cheltenham Town Centre and no doubt hinder Gloucester City Centre's King's Quarter development. Retail in the centre of Cheltenham depends on attracting visitors from a wide area, clearly quality fashion is a mainstay. This proposed out of Town scheme just off the M5 would take much of this trade away and also make it more difficult for Stanhope (the King's Quarter developers) to attract Retailers to their development. Greenfield Out of Town developments are obviously far cheaper to build than City/Town centre developments such as Gloucester Quays or King's Quarter but do not bring anything like the same level of benefits to the local economy. If it went ahead I would expect the effect on Tewkesbury to be neutrel (apart from traffic chaos) but I fear the effect on Cheltenham's Town Centre could be catastrophic. As thousands of Cheltenham and Gloucester residents live within "Tewkesbury Borough" their comments clearly would have to be considered. For years Cribbs Causeway has drawn huge amounts of trade, Visitors and retailers away from Gloucester City Centre. According to recent reports in "The Echo" there are around 70 vacant Retail units in Cheltenham Town Centre. How mamy more will there be in a few years time if this Out Of Town Retail Cente development is allowed to take place?

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  • billfoster  |  March 10 2013, 2:39AM

    The environment agency will go for the best route that costs them less. When they used to be the river authority then fine they dredged the river.now they dont dedge , the river bed is higher and they would rather build,defences,than go back to what works. It's simple don't build as any building will affect the water table, flow of rainwater and ultimately it will,always go somewhere else even if slightly,delayed by tanks.

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  • dontyaknow  |  March 09 2013, 9:08PM

    I went to the exhibition - they have been working with the environment agency over the past year to ensure that the flood defences are sufficient. The plans are to have permeable blocks on the car parks and other paved surfaces that allow water to drain into large tanks under the site- this water can then be released when it is safe to do so. From what I understand the Environment Agency are more than happy with the scheme and it could actually decrease the flood risk as water landing on the site can be stored until it is safe to be released rather than running straight into Tirle brook and flooding residents downstream. Quite how large these tanks are going to be though is unclear. I would rather see TBC work with the developer to ensure that flooding issues are sorted so they can approve planning permission. I agree with Matt that if permission was declined and it went to appeal that the Secretary of State would likely over turn it and it would end up costing taxpayers (as per the recent homes at Bishops Cleeve) thousands.

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  • Matt1006  |  March 09 2013, 2:39PM

    billfoster - isn't that the point, as far as the developers are concerned? They don't want their own sites to flood, so they look to get the water beyond their site boundaries. Thereafter, it becomes somebody else's problem. Schemes such as this have to present drainage plans as part of their proposals, so assuming the plans are passed by the relevant authorities and then the scheme built in accordance with the approved plans, any subsequent flooding caused is not down to the developer as they've done everything in accordance with what the authorities expected of them. Passing the buck, whilst washing their hands (excuse the pun) of any legal responsibility. So are the authorities who approved the drainage plans then liable??? Really don't know what the answer is, apart from refusing planning permission. Except if refusals then get overturned on appeal (at the local tax-payer's expense), the potential flooding issues still exist, the tax-payer has been fleeced (again), and the developers having done everything they've been asked to do still know they won't be held to account.

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  • billfoster  |  March 09 2013, 1:18PM

    They still don't get the flooding. It's not the actual site flooding its pushing extra water somewhere else to flood.

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