Housing "almost certain" if Prestbury land loses green belt status, councillors say
WORRIED councillors in Prestbury believe the decision to try to remove land in the village from the greenbelt will "almost certainly" lead to housing development.
Land next to Cheltenham Racecourse, just off New Barn Lane, is due to lose its greenbelt protection as part of Cheltenham Borough Council's housing plan, the Joint Core Strategy (JCS).
The council said the land, which is just over 30 acres in size, is losing its status as part of a "tidy-up" of the greenbelt boundary around Cheltenham.
Some of the land is currently used for parking and park and ride, but members of the People Against Bureaucracy (PAB) group believe housing will be on the way if the downgrade occurs.
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Councillor Les Godwin (PAB, Prestbury) said taking the land out of the greenbelt would "almost certainly" lead to the land being targeted by developers for housing.
He told the Echo he "went ballistic" when he found out the land was being included in the JCS, which sets out where 33,449 homes will be built across Cheltenham, Tewkesbury and Gloucester between 2011 and 2031.
He said: "Once you change the status of the greenbelt then it is an open invitation to developers to put in a planning application to build houses.
"The worst thing for preserving the openness of the racecourse would be to have houses built right up to its boundary.
"All of the houses in New Barn Lane would be vulnerable to additional development, right up to Apple Orchard."
PAB councillors tried to have the land withdrawn from the housing plan when it was debated by the borough council earlier this month, but they were unsuccessful.
The council said it was "unable" to say if homes "may be built in this area" because changing the status of the land is subject to consultation.
Head of planning Tracey Crews said: "The change identified in the area of the racecourse is a minor amendment and the JCS process provides us with an opportunity to tidy up the boundary in this location.
"All changes made to the greenbelt are subject to public consultation, starting on October 15, and we welcome any views."