Approving North Place plans "a missed opportunity" - councillor
Councillors who opposed plans for a massive regeneration scheme in Cheltenham say it was a "missed opportunity" for the town.
This week members of the borough council's planning committee approved plans to turn car parks at North Place and Portland Street into a supermarket, shops, restaurant and multi-storey car park as well as 143 homes.
The decision effectively marked the end of more than a decade of debate over the future of the site.
It was not without controversy however.
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Councillor Malcolm Stennett (PAB, Prestbury) was one of planning committee members to vote against the proposals.
He later told the Echo: "Approving plans for a multi-storey carpark on such an important piece of land in Cheltenham's central conservation area was, in my view, a missed opportunity.
"It's right in the centre of town. If the parking had been underground much more could have been done with the site, and we could have had something the town could be really proud of."
He went on to criticise the council for what he said was a short-sighted approach.
"Unfortunately I don't think the council is imaginative enough to think what things will look like in five or ten years' time," he added.
"It seems to be about making a quick buck today and just get on with it. But I think it's a shame for the town and I'm glad I didn't put my name to it."
Councillor Les Godwin (PAB, Prestbury) said he had received several calls from residents in St Paul's who were disappointed at the outcome of Thursday night's meeting.
"I'm very sad for the people living next to the site," he said.
"I can't for the life of me understand how in a conservation area we can't think of anything better to put there than a supermarket and a multi-storey car park."
However in other quarters the move to approve the plans was welcomed.
Councillor Andrew McKinlay (LD, Up Hatherley) described it as "very good", arguing that it was "probably the single most important planning development in the centre of Cheltenham since the Second World War."
And Michael Ratcliffe, chairman of Cheltenham Chamber of Commerce, said the scheme would breathe new life into the town centre.
"It will be good for the town," he said. "That site has been waiting for development for more than 20 years and it's time to get on with it.
"It's a way of regenerating that land and it will bring new jobs with it. I'm led to believe it will look more attractive than some people perhaps think too."
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