Hester's Way pasture to be concreted over to create 70-space car park near GCHQ
PLANS for a 70-space car park near GCHQ have been approved, despite concerns from residents about safety.
The developer, listed as Mr C Gifford, has been given the nod to concrete pasture land in Hester's Way to create a 'park and walk' facility.
The privately-owned car park will be aimed at people working nearby and the developer says it will ease problems with cars clogging up residential roads.
The site off Fiddler's Green Lane is empty and owned by Cheltenham Borough Council., whose planning committee approved the plans.
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Councillor Simon Wheeler (LD, Hester's Way), who sits on the committee, said: "I know some neighbours don't want it and I can fully understand that, but the developer already has permission to build three houses on the site, so this is the lesser of two evils."
He said it would have been "practically impossible" to turn the application down as, by law, there were no valid planning reasons to do so.
As part of the permission, the developer has been asked to make a contribution towards the cost of putting yellow lines on roads in the area.
Councillor Wheeler said: "They won't solve the problems because there are so many people looking for parking, but it will help."
The permission will run for four years and the car park will be open from 7am until 9pm, Monday to Friday and between 7am and 1pm on Saturday, but would be closed on Sundays and bank holidays.
Residents had said concreting over the 0.17 hectares would spoil their view of the Malvern Hills, as well as creating traffic problems.
Cheltenham Civic Society said it was not convinced the plan was the "best use" of the land.
Chairman Stephen Clarke said: "It's a privately-owned car park for another business which seems a bit of a strange thing to do.
"It's a shame to lose that piece of land.
"It's doesn't seem very appropriate and it's an unfortunate decision."
GCHQ was not involved with the application.