How does Gloucestershire’s massive housing plan affect you
It is one of the biggest problems facing society today.
There is a battle for preserving the county’s green and pleasant land, while trying to build more houses.
For the past 20 years house prices have soared, and fewer new homes built, meaning the chances of millions of people getting their own home plummet.
It has led to “human misery” as the country’s poorest people struggle to find a home for themselves and their families.
But similarly it has led to a poor quality of life and the destruction of treasured homes as developers swallow up tracts of land to build homes those who want them.
Now housing experts have set out where 35,000 homes can be built across Gloucester, Cheltenham and Tewkesbury for the next ten years – potentially helping the next generation find a home and saving valuable green belt land.
The Joint Core Strategy
What is the JCS and what does it mean?
It’s not a name that means much to the average person on the street but the Joint Core Strategy is an incredibly important document.
It sets out where housing and employment will be placed for generations to come.
Here we break down the massive document for you.
How much is needed?
Housing experts predict that 35,175 new homes will be needed in the future – or about 1,525 new homes each year.
For Gloucester, that will mean civic chiefs have to find 14,359 new homes in and around the city.
In Cheltenham there will be a fight to find 10,917 homes and 9,899 for Tewkesbury.
Where will it go?
Some of this quota has already been built or is destined to be built with new developments.
But some of this hasn’t.
Winnycroft, Innsworth and Twigworth, South Churchdown, and North Brockworth are just some of those that will help meet Gloucester’s demand.
Currently, the area is falling behind target, leaving a shortfall of 3,351 homes, with Gloucester’s shortfall standing at 1,346.
Sadly the county’s poorest people are still losing out – for the time being.
The report said: “For young people the key issue in the area is not just the availability of housing, but also the price of housing.
“In the JCS area, the house price to earnings ratio is around 6:1 for people aged under 40 in 2011 (meaning the average house price is six times the average annual income of people under 40).
“There has been insufficient delivery of housing in recent years to lower this ratio.”
Between 2006 and 2011 more than 8,200 homes were built – but only 2,015 of these were affordable.
That means that only 400 of the county’s poorest families were lucky enough to find a roof over their heads.
Gypsies, travellers and showpeople
The number of pitches needed across the area would be 83 with 10 transit pitches.
This is due largely to temporary permits having been made permanent.
Finding those homes mean the area of green space between the three towns and city will shrink.
The map below shows that huge changes have been made to the boundaries where developers will not be able to build upon.
The planning inspector’s report states that the Gloucester-Cheltenham green belt “is one of the smallest in England”.
By designating land as green belt it prevents “the merger of Gloucester and Cheltenham” allowing an “urban sprawl”.
But with lack of available space in the area, with the Cotwolds on the door-step of the three towns and cities, the inspector has stated that the “removal of land from the green belt is needed”.
On top of this a minimum of 192 hectares of land in the area is needed to support about 39,500 new jobs between now and 2028.
The main focus is on what is dubbed the “M5 corridor” particularly around junctions 9 and 10, and upgrading junction 10 to support the accelerated growth of the area.
Cheltenham racecourse, Gloucestershire airport and Gloucestershire University are considered to be “significant economic importance” and “more support needs to be given to their development”.
There will also be a focus on tourism.
For the past decade housing experts have been working on a 396-page document – called the Joint Core Strategy (JCS) – setting out where houses and infrastructure can be built, shaping the future of Gloucestershire for the next 10 years.
It will affect not only the communities in these towns, but villages lying in between too – North Brockworth, Ashchuch, Winnycroft, Innsworth and Twigworth, South Churchdown.
They would contribute towards creating potentially 14,359 homes for Gloucester, 10,996 in Cheltenham, and 9,899 in Tewkesbury.
For Gloucester, most of that will be found within the city council boundaries and some has already been found.
On top of the housing, provision has been made to find land that can be used for jobs and infrastructure too.
All three councils must vote in favour of accepting the plan in order for the JCS to be adopted.
Last night Gloucester City Council sent “a clear message” to the other authorities when councillors unanimously approved the document.
Not everyone is in favour of the plan though.
“Stuck in traffic”
In the villages of Innsworth and Twigworth, signs have been put up stating they want to protect green spaces while the city of Gloucester expands.
Rick Minter, a parish councillor for Down Hatherley, just outside Twigworth, believes the JCS will be bad for his fellow villagers.
Twigworth has been earmarked for 2,295 homes and nine hectares of land set aside for employing people in the area. An area that is currently considered green belt land, it will now be a conurbation.
“It’s a really rank, bad plan for the whole of the area,” he said, although admitting there is a need for more housing.
He would rather see a garden city style plan rather than just building more houses leaving people “stuck in traffic”.
“It’s bad for productivity and for quality of life. I don’t think we should be planning for houses based on the fact that developers have got land already for housing.
“If we honestly think that a suburban tract of housing on that scale, is a good way of creating housing, then it’s a very sad time. It should be about vision.”
What happens next?
Tewkesbury Borough Council meets on Tuesday December 5 while Cheltenham Borough Council will meet on Monday December 11 to discuss the JCS.
Colin Organ, Gloucester City Council’s cabinet member for housing and planning, said described the JCS as “an important document that outlines the long term vision for the city and the wider area”
He was “absolutely delighted that the plan has now been given a unanimous vote by members of Gloucester City Council and it means we can now move on”.
He said: “It plays a vital part in making sure future development is consistent with the city’s vision and has a positive impact on Gloucester.