Miller 350 refused planning permission – landscape & climate change key

Cheltenham’s planning committee have refused Miller Homes’ application for 350 new houses on land next to the Shurdington Road.

I put a strong case to the committee based on issues I really care about as a Leckhampton resident myself:

The Conservative-run County Council thinks adding even more traffic to the Shurdington Road isn’t going to cause severe congestion. I beg to differ.

Traffic. I argued that Miller and the county council had still done nothing about the traffic this application would add to local roads. Even the Conservative county councillor and I agreed her own council hadn’t done enough. But the official county council highways advice was still ‘no objection’.

Landscape. I’ve campaigned to protect our green fields for decades. While development is expected next to the Shurdington Road alongside the 26 hectares of Local Green Space protected in the Lib Dem Local Plan, this application encroached on prominent fields a government inspector previously said shouldn’t be developed. This was one of the grounds councillors agreed justified refusal.

The Miller bid was refused because none of the planned houses were zero carbon, all would be gas-heated and less than half would have solar panels – and because the development encroached on fields a planning inspector had ruled shoud not be built on

Climate change. I don’t oppose all development. Last year I backed 22 new zero carbon houses for Leckhampton on a nearby ‘brownfield’ site. But Miller said they couldn’t even manage solar panels on the majority of their houses because they faced the wrong way (even though they designed them!). Houses like these won’t be allowed anywhere under rules expected in 2025 so I’m proud Lib Dem-led Cheltenham is saying no to them here now.

Local facilities. I also argued Miller had made no space for a local shop or an expanded doctor’s surgery. We need communities where people can walk and cycle to local facilities. This wasn’t one of the grounds used for refusal but I’ll keep arguing for better local provision.

Miller may appeal and we might all end up in front of another government inspector. But I really hope Miller will come up with a much better & greener plan – and that the county come up with a traffic plan too.

You can rest assured that if I’m re-elected on 5 May, I’ll stay on the case.

Author: Martin Horwood

Lib Dem councillor for Leckhampton, ex-MP for Cheltenham and ex-MEP for South West England & Gibraltar

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