Gloucestershire council resolves to approve 1,500-home urban extension on green belt land

Out-Law News | 22 Aug 2014 | 5:13 pm | 1 min. read

Tewkesbury Borough Council has resolved to approve outline plans for a 1,500-home urban extension on green belt land near Brockworth in Gloucestershire, according to a report in Planning Magazine.

The whole of the 77 hectare development site, to the north of Brockworth and Hucclecote, is located within the Gloucestershire green belt. The proposals include: the construction of up to 1,500 homes, including up to 600 affordable units and 150 units of extra care accommodation; 22,000 square metres for business or storage and distribution uses; a 2,500 square metre community hub with shops, restaurants, businesses and pubs; open spaces, allotments and a new primary school.

The site is identified for removal from the green belt and allocated for development in the emerging joint core strategy planning document being prepared by the Council with Gloucester City Council and Cheltenham Borough Council. However, the Council conceded in an officer's report relating to the application that the proposals currently constitute "inappropriate development" on the green belt and therefore require "very special circumstances" in order to justify their approval.

In deciding that these "very special circumstances" existed, the Council considered the pressing need for housing land in the area. In 2013, the High Court had upheld a decision by the secretary of state for communities and local government to overturn two decisions by the Council refusing planning permission for major housing developments near Bishop's Cleese. The judge had agreed with the secretary of state that there was "no other way" of reducing the housing supply shortfall in the borough.

The Council acknowledged in the officer's report that it could "only demonstrate a 2.7 year supply of deliverable housing sites", rather than the five year supply required under government policy in order to avoid a presumption in favour of sustainable development. Also weighing in favour of development were the proposed provision of a "sports hub" under the scheme, the economic benefits to the local area and support offered to a voluntary community project.

Concluding that the "benefits, when taken as a whole, outweigh the harm to the green belt", the officer's report recommended that the application be approved.

Due to the scale of the proposals and their impact on the green belt, the application will be referred to the secretary of state for communities and local government.