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Joint Core Strategy: £1m could be spent on planning new homes for Gloucestershire

By Gloucestershire Echo  |  Posted: November 09, 2012

Cllr Les Godwin

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MORE than £1 million could be spent on planning new homes in Cheltenham, Tewkesbury and Gloucester.

But after three years of work, a councillor, who is on the committee working on the plan, has asked what has been achieved?

Three years ago councillors from all three councils sat down to discuss how many homes needed to be built over the next 20 years and where they would go.

Councillor Les Godwin also raised concerns at the Up Hatherley parish council meeting about the Joint Core Strategy's total budget of more than £1million.

The People Against Bureaucracy councillor, who represents the Prestbury ward, said: "The Joint Core Strategy committee started working three years ago...I feel after these three years we have got nothing to show.

"We are still talking about a strategy and all the indications show something may materialise by June of next year, but of course this means developers will be waiting on the wings and putting in their applications.

"Three years on and we are not much further forward and not a lot has been achieved."

A working group has been set up after Cheltenham politicians wanted to see further evidence that the 28,500 houses, agreed by counterparts in Tewkesbury and Gloucester, were needed and could be sustained with employment.

Mr Godwin added: "The biggest ache will be where the developments take place and that is being left for the time being. Everything is still very much in the melting pot. How many homes will be developed is anybody's guess."

Andrew North, chairman of the Joint Core Strategy programme, said: "The cost of the project up until now has been just over £200,000 per council, which is out of an overall budget per council of £365,000.

"This has been spent on a significant amount of vital work which has been carried out to date, including two major consultations, the production of a detailed and technical evidence base, and in-depth independent reports on issues including housing projections, flooding and infrastructure.

"Throughout the process, there have been a couple of issues outside of our control which have caused delays in the project."

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  • Shireresident  |  November 12 2012, 3:26PM

    "Dogmatic and politically biased "aside thanks for the classic exposition of the monetarist theory of supply and demand which landed the housing market in the mire it's in at the moment. Like I said, there's none so blind----------------------

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  • Bonkim2003  |  November 12 2012, 11:40AM

    Shireresident - if you were not so dogmatic or politically biased, and following basic economics - if something is made easier, its scarcity value goes down, and price comes down. Not sure if Mr Pickles is presenting favours carte blanche to developers - they will have to reduce their mark ups (developers' premium) around 25 to 30% at present - which means prices coming down. Local communities decide how they want to play in the opened up regime, and nothing stopping them from deciding how to play their deck. the main hindrance to social housing at present is the economic doldrums, councils not being as generous in the past to subsidise social house-building. Unless there is money in the system - private or public, construction industry will remain stagnant. So don't blame Pickles - ask developers to reduce building costs, use up their land-bank and they will if they see sales prospects - which at present in the doldrums.

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  • Shireresident  |  November 12 2012, 11:00AM

    I think that sums up what was said several posts ago Mr. B. and if you look back I think you'll find that I don't dispute any of it. My point for the FINAL time is that irrespective of the theory of local planning once Mr. Pickles relaxes planning legislation the geni is out of the bottle, the developers make a killing and presumably swell the Tory party coffers as a grateful result.

  • Bonkim2003  |  November 12 2012, 9:40AM

    Shireresident - it is for the local residents/planning authority to declare what is needed at their location, also take note of needs of the local population. Most wish the world around them stood still - after they had their home, and local amenities - regrettably the world is always changing and needs of all sections have to be catered for - housing shortage is a crucial issue as you may have noticed, as also protests by local activists (not representative of the majority) against development of any sort. In other parts - against shops, supermarkets, waste to energy, railways, you name it - there are people objecting to change.

  • TIMONLINE2010  |  November 12 2012, 8:43AM

    Would perhaps a councillor or someone from the council present some facts on this discussion - 1. Who are these additional houses for? 2. What price range are they to be in? 3. Are the council in any way accountable for all the money they 'spend' and what is it spent on?

  • Shireresident  |  November 12 2012, 8:31AM

    Sorry you're having difficulty Mr. B. I'd have thought the outcome of relaxing planning legislation was fairly obvious but then there's none so blind----------

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  • Bonkim2003  |  November 11 2012, 10:35PM

    Shireresident - have difficulty understanding your point about Pickles changing planning Law. " Core Planning Strategy is the big picture - an overarching strategy which offers long term 15 or more year vision as to how a local authority planing will evolve. It is set out to guide everyone involved in the council's future as to how they deliver specific projects in different parts of the authority's jurisdiction, ensuring continuity and consistency in quality and outlook. Not setting out nitty gritty of particular applications - it is a framework - statement of direction where the LA wants to go having taken due account of the needs for housing, businesses, leisure, agriculture, transport, employment, etc, etc. Now the localism bill and certain planning areas may have been liberalised to make the process quicker or to reduce the planning regulations from thousands of pages to basic principles - prompting councils to enable planning and not over- control to facilitate housing, economic development, etc - but all that has to fit in within the bigger picture of where the particular authority wants to go in 5, 10, 15, 20 years - the core strategy. But of course if such a strategy is not in place, planning applicants will make mince meat of the council accusing it of not having any direction, and all the more that they will win in appeals. It is related more to the locational aspects/allocation of land for particular uses rather than micromanaging individual applications. Lack of strategic planning creates confusion, uncertainty and opens the door for litigation/exploitation by shrewd planning lawyers.

  • Shireresident  |  November 11 2012, 9:44PM

    Sorry Mr. B, I thought it was fairly obvious that Pickles relaxation of the planning rules has made the joint core strategy largely redundant. The fact it started before he put the spoke in the wheel is just a tad irrelevant.

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  • Bonkim2003  |  November 11 2012, 8:40PM

    Shireresident - you appear to have inside track on this - how did Mr Pickles torpedo this Core Strategy? He was not there when it started. To the best of my understanding LAs are supposed to have a forward plan more or less on a rolling basis with assigned land for various purposes.

  • Shireresident  |  November 11 2012, 8:07PM

    And going back to my original comment, I coudn't agree more that the whole shebang is a waste of time, thanks to Mr. Pickles. As for the councillor mentioned, that lot can always be relied on for a quick "rent a quote" they're as shameless as the Libs.