Councillors go against housing advice of officers
AN AGREEMENT to solve the area's housing crisis could 'disintegrate'.
That is the view of civil servants who told Cheltenham borough councillors they risked the future of the Joint Core Strategy (JCS) by voting in favour of resolutions not agreed with partner authorities.
But many members refused to heed the advice during a special meeting to discuss how many homes will be built in Cheltenham, Tewkesbury and Gloucester in the next 20 years.
Seven resolutions had all been agreed by Cheltenham and Tewkesbury Borough Councils and Gloucester City Council.
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But council leader Steve Jordan (All Saints, LD) added three additional and non-agreed resolutions, sparking the concern of council officers.
All 10 resolutions were eventually agreed, including the council accepting the projected population growth for the area of 44,700 people over the next 20 years and the fact that such an increase would generate the need for 28,500 new homes, according to the council's independent consultant NLP's methodology.
However, one of the additional resolutions states officers should investigate the suggestion that using a different set of data and methodology would result in a projected housing need of just 18,600 homes.
Council officers told the meeting that arriving at the 18,600 homes figure was 'methodologically unsound' and that including the figure could be the 'coup de grace' which leads Cheltenham's partners to say goodbye, leaving the borough to deal with its housing woes on its own.
Mike Redman, the council's director of built environment, said: "The officer view is that there is no evidence base to support the 18,600 figure that has been quoted and officers would caution strongly against using this figure in any resolution.
"I have already cautioned this in my initial comments and there is a very, very strong risk if this resolution is passed of the other JCS partner authorities deciding that they are withdrawing from the process with Cheltenham."
However, Councillor Jordan said the additional resolutions wouldn't 'blow the whole thing apart' and the 18,600 figure would not be a 'showstopper'.
He said: "I, as an individual, and we, as a council, are allowed independent thought.
"The additional resolutions do not cause a problem and I think they are important for us in Cheltenham."