Changes to housing plan 'not ruled out'
THE prospect of building thousands of homes at Highnam as part of Gloucester, Cheltenham and Tewkesbury's housing plan has not been ruled out, one of the key players has said.
Tracey Crews, head of planning at Cheltenham Borough Council, said "no options are closed" when it comes to figuring out where homes will be built across the three areas between 2011 and 2031.
The three authorities need to provide 33,449 homes over that period and Cheltenham and Gloucester had wanted to build some of them at Highnam.
But their partners at Tewkesbury dug their heels in and said no.
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The draft version of the housing plan, called the joint core strategy, went out to public consultation yesterday with people being asked what they think of it.
Ms Crews said that if the message from the public was that houses should be built at Highnam then the area was likely to be looked at again.
And that could mean land earmarked for housing elsewhere could be removed from the plan.
Ms Crews said the situation at Highnam was a "very good illustration" of the three partner authorities wanting different things from the plan.
She said: "I think that Highnam is going to be one that we probably go back to and have another look at as part of the consultation process.
"We are already getting members of the public saying 'why aren't you looking at Highnam?'
"We are also getting people saying 'hands off Highnam this is not a place to be developed'.
"The officer view is that the strategy is one of urban extension to Gloucester and Cheltenham.
"Clearly Highnam would not fit that strategy so it would need to be a different strategy that went forward in the future.
"No options are closed. This is a consultation and the hint is in the name. It is a draft.
"Until we get to a submission plan when we actually say to the Secretary of State 'here is our plan' everything is up for grabs."
Any changes to the draft version of the plan will still have to be agreed by the three councils, regardless of what comes back from consultation, which runs until November 26, .
County councillor Phil Awford (C, Highnam) said any major development plans would "certainly be opposed" by the parish council.
He said: "You only have to talk to people from the Forest of Dean about traffic to see that development on that scale would not be appropriate for Highnam."
But he added it would be "only fair and proper" for Highnam to take a small amount of housing in future.