Battle to save Leckhampton green fields begins
A LONG-awaited planning application to build 650 homes on Leckhampton’s green fields has now been submitted, kick starting the battle to defend the town’s edges from development.
Campaigners have vowed to “spend as much money” as they need to in order to defeat the housing bid which has been put together by Bovis Homes and Miller Homes.
The land targeted by the developers has been identified for homes in the housing blueprint, known as the Joint Core Strategy (JCS), which has been drawn up by Cheltenham, Gloucester and Tewkesbury councils.
All three authorities agreed to send the JCS out for public consultation just over two weeks ago. Bovis Homes and Miller Homes’ application to Cheltenham Borough Council, more than two years in the making, also includes plans for a new primary school, GP surgery, community facilities and protected public open space.
The developers have been keen to point out that the land they want to build on is the only new site in Cheltenham earmarked for homes in the JCS that is not currently designated as greenbelt.
Building the homes on the land just off Shurdington Road will create almost 1,000 jobs for the local economy, according to Steve Carey, spokesman for Bovis Homes and Miller Homes.
He said the concerns raised by residents during a series of consultation events held over the past two years had been fed into the planning application.
“Bovis Homes and Miller Homes are pleased to submit an application that has taken on board some key points made by local residents during the consultation, such as the need for a new GP surgery and the potential for a care home and/or a cottage hospital,” he said.
“Cheltenham Borough Council has identified a serious housing shortfall and this application will contribute towards meeting this need in a sustainable, considerate way whilst protecting the greenbelt from development.”
But regardless of the land’s official designation, campaigners from the Leckhampton Green Land Action Group (LEGLAG) have vowed to fight against the application.
And they will go deep into their war chest to get the job done if they have to.
Kit Braunholtz, the group’s chairman, said the fight to save the land from development was “absolutely” on.
He said: “We have two things to fight now.
“The consultation on the Joint Core Strategy and obviously we have to prepare to fight this planning application.
“We are gearing up to fight and we will be talking to expert consultants on things like traffic issues on the Shurdington Road and the implications of this development on that.
“We will also be talking to them about the impact this development could have on the landscape and the housing numbers.
“We have raised money so that we are able to do this.
“We would like to keep some of that money in reserve just in case we have to fight an appeal.
“But we will spend as much money as we need to on the consultants we need and if we need more money we will go back to our supporters who have been incredibly generous on previous occasions.”
The three councils behind the Joint Core Strategy have all now agreed to its draft form, which will be sent out for public consultation in October.
It sets out where 33,449 homes will be built across the three areas between 2011 and 2031.