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The Great Debate - was the North Place and Portland Place development a missed opportunity?

By Gloucestershire Echo  |  Posted: February 27, 2013

Fresh vision:  An artist's impression of the North Place development

Fresh vision: An artist's impression of the North Place development

Comments (5)

THE development of North Place and Portland Street car parks, has been approved. Here council leader Steve Jordan and Stephen Clarke, chairman of Cheltenham Civic Society, ask whether the developers and Cheltenham Borough Council got it right:

Stephen Clarke:

On the one hand, we as a society have supported the redevelopment of North Place, but we just think some of the buildings could have been better.

There are various views on the housing that have been proposed, particularly the big apartment block building, and we felt that there were more imaginative designs which could have been put in there.

We were looking for something that was a bit better designed. We were also not convinced about whether the supermarket along St Margaret's Road really fits in well.

It would have been nice not to have a supermarket and car park – but that is almost a lost battle now.

Saying that, redevelopment of the land is important to me and to the society and linking Pittville to the town centre is important.

We were hoping for more on the Portland Street site because we were seeing it as the Northern Promenade and we wanted something grander.

There were concerns about the traffic impact of the supermarket and also, with the location, being in the town centre, we wondered if it was really a location for a supermarket.

We wanted a bigger square with housing and something to try and shift the balance of the town centre a little bit further north so there was encouragement for people to walk up there, with a grander promenade, but primarily it was about housing.

Our disappointment was the architecture. Cheltenham is known for its architecture and we have such great buildings – we were hoping in the 21st century for something that stood out and would attract people to Cheltenham.

I don't think these plans will really add to that. This site was the one opportunity we had to put something great in.

Councillor Steve Jordan:

The council already owned Portland Street car park, but the potential hotel development that didn't happen triggered us buying the site and it has always been identified as a key development site.

Having it as a car park is clearly beneficial because of the income it generates for the council but it looked a bit shoddy.

This development is a good thing for the town and a very positive thing.

We don't have a big wad of cash to do this, so we have been trying to manage what we want with what we could get somebody to pay for.

If you aim too high you risk nobody wanting to do it.

We have a good scheme in terms of value to the town but also in terms of income to the council that we can re-invest in the town.

Each area in the town has its own supermarket but the town centre doesn't really have that, so it is quite reasonable to have the supermarket on this site.

But it also comes back to what people would be willing to build – it's about getting that balance.

In terms of linking the town centre with Pittville, there is no straight road but I think this development will help.

The plan is that this will help Cheltenham to be a continuously attractive place for people to visit but the fact that we have got 40 per cent affordable housing I think is great.

It can be difficult to get to that level so it has to be positive because we certainly know that there is a demand for it.

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5 comments

  • NamChelt  |  March 01 2013, 1:36PM

    Cllr Jordan is obviously very unfamiliar with the town he purports to serve. The Promenade is just one part of the "straight road" that was intended to be the grandest thoroughfare in England running all the way up to Pittville Park and the Pump Rooms. Sadly this development puts paid to that longstanding ambition.

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  • RichyB  |  February 28 2013, 1:50PM

    @Matt1006 - good points! There is also the M&S supermarket as well as all the others. I think his phrase should have read 'all the other supermarkets have got multiple outlets in Cheltenham apart from Morrisons, who really, really want another!'

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  • cofcleeve  |  February 27 2013, 1:25PM

    Damn there goes my car park! more internet shopping for me!! Good bye Cheltenham

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  • Matt1006  |  February 27 2013, 10:25AM

    Any news yet on which operator is to fill the supermarket unit within this development...??? Cllr. Jordan is quoted as saying "Each area in the town has its own supermarket but the town centre doesn't really have that..." - utter nonsense. Tesco Metro in the High Street is a 2 minute walk from North Place, and the new Sainsburys Local at the top end of the High Street (corner of Bath Road) is only a 5 minute walk away from North Place. Lidl in Grosvenor Terrace & Iceland in the High Street are closer than the new Sainsburys. No supermarkets in the town centre - cobblers. The existing town-centre supermarkets (at least 4 of them, Cllr. Jordan) are able to cope with their day-to-day demand (never busy when I've been in), so the additional 143 new homes on North Place (max. 400 people) do not warrant another supermarket. With comments like that from a local Cllr. it makes me wonder about this decision (although I do note that Cllr. Jordan isn't a member of the planning committee). And another gem from Cllr. Jordan - "In terms of linking the town centre with Pittville, there is no straight road but I think this development will help." No straight road? You what? Portland Street into Evesham Road. Winchcombe Street. Nice & straight according to my AtoZ, and also according to my memory. Anybody else think this is starting to smell a bit funny?

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  • DEvans  |  February 27 2013, 9:06AM

    Can someone please explain - what if the point of welcoming everyione to regency Cheltenham whilst buildiung sweidh style home that will stand the test test of time. the swedish design shop in Montpelleier has just clised due to lack of interest btw - I could weep at the incompetence of Planners architects and CBC officers. (and what is the pont of the civic society when they have no teeth to protect our heritage - disband - disband!) Shame on them all.

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