"New town" plan looked at to solve Cheltenham's housing crisis
COUNCIL chiefs considered building an entire new town to tackle Cheltenham, Tewkesbury and Gloucester's housing crisis, it has emerged.
The creation of a new settlement was one of three options considered by three councils which have just unveiled a housing blueprint which will see 33,449 houses built in 20 years across the region.
The borough councils of Tewkesbury and Cheltenham and the city council of Gloucester eventually decided to proceed with an urban extension scheme which will see the majority of new homes built around Cheltenham and Gloucester between 2011 and 2031.
But the idea of building a new town was on the table as well as another plan which would have seen new housing spread out equally across all the towns and villages in the area.
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However, no site could be found for the new town and it was not deemed to be "realistic" on the grounds it would take too long to build and cost too much.
Meanwhile, so called "rural dispersion" was ruled out because it would bring with it "many negative and uncertain effects" including the need for massive investment to improve transport links to cope with increased commuter levels.
Urban extension was deemed to have "the most positive effects and more certainty" than the other two options.
Nigel Gilmore from the Joint Core Strategy team, said: "Throughout the development of the Joint Core Strategy we have considered a range of options, and distributing development though urban extensions has proven to be the most robust approach to take.
"Having an urban focus would maximise existing infrastructure, such as social facilities, schools and transport, it would make the best use of existing capacity within the urban areas, provide housing and jobs where they are most needed, minimise travel – including time, costs and emissions – and restrict the level of less-sustainable rural development."
As a rule of thumb 20,000 homes is widely regarded as the minimum number of houses needed to make a new town viable.
But the fact it would have to be located some distance from existing towns and villages so that it would be free-standing and not a "dormitory settlement" with high levels of commuting spelled its doom in the Cheltenham, Tewkesbury and Gloucester area.
There are no sites capable of delivering such a town in this area, according to the councils.