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Agenda item

Tewkesbury Garden Town - Evolution of the Concept Plan

To note the progress and changes made to the Tewkesbury Area Draft Concept Masterplan which are now included in the Tewkesbury Garden Town ‘Evolution of the Concept Plan’.

Subject To Call In::No - Item to Note.

Decision:

That the progress and changes made to the Tewkesbury Area Draft Concept Masterplan, which are now included in the Tewkesbury Garden Town ‘Evolution of the Concept Plan’ (July 2021 attached at Appendix 1 to the report), be NOTED.  

Minutes:

47.1          The report of the Tewkesbury Garden Town Programme Director, circulated at Pages No. 117-193, set out the Evolution of the Concept Plan for Tewkesbury Garden Town. Members were asked to note the progress and changes made to the Plan.

47.2          The Tewkesbury Garden Town Programme Director explained that the original Concept Masterplan document dated 2018 had been consulted upon as part of the Joint Core Strategy issues and options consultation; however, a number of changes had been made over the years so it was important to update the plan. There were some quite major changes but a lot of that work had been done with the Tewkesbury Garden Town Member Reference Panel and the update tried to bring forward the outcomes and conclusions from those meetings including the details of nine development principles for the Garden Town sustainable development; the decision by the Ministry of Defence to maintain the majority of the base for operational purposes and release land at the eastern end of the base for development; inclusion of the Garden Community (Town) status; incorporation of extant planning permissions, including that of the Fiddington development of 850 homes; inclusion of employment land provisionally located south of the A46/east of the B4079; general updates to the plan including a review of the baseline analysis, engagement that had taken place, and a draft Garden Town vision; inclusion, as appropriate, of responses from the Joint Core Strategy issues and options public consultation; and a name change from the Tewkesbury Area Draft Concept Masterplan to Concept Plan which more accurately reflected the evolutionary status of the document which was the basis for further detailed discussion with stakeholders. The change of name had been discussed with Members and was meant to show it was a concept of what could happen rather than an allocation.

47.3          In terms of the next steps, the Tewkesbury Garden Town Programme Director indicated that it had been difficult for the last year or so to get the opportunity to continue discussing the plan with stakeholders, the community and landowners and to take on board any other changes/recommendations as they came forward. It was not intended to undertake formal consultation but stakeholders would be engaged in the best manner.

47.4          During the discussion which ensued, a Member expressed the view that no progress had been made. There was less land available now that the Ministry of Defence was not leaving; development had started in various parts of the Garden Town area which bore no resemblance to the principles of the Garden Town and that would continue until the Council adopted a Supplementary Planning Document (SPD). In terms of the branding for the Garden Town documents, she noted that the Member Reference Panel had indicated it would like it to be changed but nothing had happened to date. In response, the Head of Development Services advised that the Concept Plan was not a planning document so could not be referred to in planning applications. In terms of the quality of development being built, Officers were trying to negotiate with the developers to achieve some of the Garden Town principles. The amended National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) gave greater power to local authorities in respect of the National Design Code so the Council did have tools to use at a national level but, until the Council had a strategic allocation, it would be difficult to refuse applications and it could not stop speculative applications coming forward. The document did however set out principles which were helpful. In terms of the National Design Code, the Member questioned whether it offered any powers to the Council to stop development that was unacceptable. In response, the Head of Development Services advised that the Design Code was new and had not been tested in the Courts but, if a scheme was not meeting the quality standards set out by the government, then they should be refused. In terms of the comments about branding, the Tewkesbury Garden Town Programme Director indicated that they had been noted and it had been agreed previously with the Member Reference Panel that, for the time being, the branding would continue as it was but that it would be brought back to the Member Reference Panel for consideration in due course.

47.5          Another Member raised concerns about the removal of the word “masterplan” as it suggested a level of conformity so, in his view, omitting that phrase watered down the document. Whilst he did not think it was right to remove the word masterplan, he had concerns about the document itself and the consequences of it on flooding in the area. In terms of infrastructure, particularly in relation to the A46 and the Ashchurch bridge over the railway, he felt the masterplan did not resolve the issues and that those needed to be addressed before moving forward. He also felt that the public should be engaged properly and the document should go out to formal public consultation. The Head of Development Services advised that when the word masterplan was used people expected to have certainty; however, the document before Members was not a planning document which was the reason it was felt having a concept plan which set out clear principles was the best way forward. Any issues in the area, including flooding, highways etc., would have to be addressed and supported fully through the JCS review.

47.6          Accordingly, it was

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