Planning Application Comments

New houses in the countryside

Comments which the Trust has made recently on key planning applications in Gloucestershire can be found below.

Check this page regularly to find new comments or to monitor the progress as applications proceed.

Forest of Dean

Stroud

 


 

Forest of Dean:

Cinderford Northern Quarter Area

The site has been allocated for development as it is a “brownfield site” which means it has had development on it in the past. But the site has become a wildlife haven having remained relatively undisturbed for 40 years during which time nature has moved in.

Rare bats, great crested newts, grass snakes, lizards, butterflies, dormice and orchids can now be found on the site and recent surveys have confirmed that it is one of the most important sites for wildlife in Gloucestershire.

“In formulating plans for the “regeneration” of this site the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) and the District Council have systematically failed to recognise the significance of the site’s ecology and as a result have not dealt with the wildlife issues accordingly” Says Dr. Colin Studholme, Director of Policy and Research. 


UPDATE: February 2013

The Northern Quarter plans were approved by the Forest of Dean District Council.

The developers say they want to start work this autumn, but Dr Studholme warns there simply won’t be time to carry out the statutory work the developers must do before the building starts, in order to preserve the site’s rare and protected species.

“The Government’s own ecologists recognised the extreme importance of the site in terms of rare species – but the measures they recommend to protect and preserve them would take up to five years to complete, and that has to happen before building starts."


UPDATE: May 2013

The Forest of Dean District Council is preparing a Mitigation Strategy to try to offset the impact of the consented applications.

The Trust will be inputting into this process but we remain sceptical that it will be possible to mitigate for the overall loss of wildlife at this extremely rich wildlife site. In the meantime a legal challenge by Friends of the Earth over the failure of the District Council to adequately assess potential impacts on wildlife before the site was allocated for development was heard in court on 14th May and the outcome is awaited.

Cinderford Northern Quarter Area Action Plan

 

Stroud

Frome Banks:

The Trust is alarmed at the prospect of Gloucestershire County Council selling Frome Banks to developers in order to provide access to a housing scheme on Rodborough Fields. Both sites are of high conservation value.

For twenty years the Trust held Frome Banks on agreement with the County Council and managed it as a nature reserve. A few years ago the agreement expired and was never renewed. Originally the Council were proposing to transfer the land to British Waterways as part of the canal restoration scheme but this never happened. Now we hear it may be sold to the highest bidder. In a recent consultation the Trust asserted its view that Frome Banks should be reinstated as a nature reserve. Even worse is the prospect that Rodborough Fields - a flower-rich grassland formally identified as a Key Wildlife Site - should be ear marked for housing. No planning application has been submitted but its arrival is imminent.

"Many of the Trust's 6,741 members in Stroud are concerned and are asking questions." said Head of Policy and Research Dr. Colin Studholme. "The Trust will object to any scheme which directly or indirectly impacts on the Key Wildlife Site."

 

Baxter's Field:

The Trust is looking into the potential impacts of a proposed development at Baxter's Fields - between Slad Road and Summer Street - at the town end of the Slad Valley in Stroud.

Initial investigations suggest that there is unlikely to be a substantive nature conservation interest in the site, the fields (like so many greenfield sites) having been "improved" for agriculture in the past. However, the proposals are likely to have a significant impact on the landscape and the setting of the AONB and we are liaising with the Cotswold Conservation Board in considering this threat. And of course the Trust has its Swift's Hill Nature Reserve at the head of the Slad Valley where is stands as a prominent and well known feature in the landscape. It is unlikely that we could use the presence of this important reserve as a reason for objecting to the scheme as it is too far away for any direct impact to be felt, but we are clearly concerned about this being the start of development creeping up the Slad Valley. Highlighting the impacts on landscape and vehicular access are likely to be the best way of objecting to this scheme - as well as local people expressing their concerns to local councillors!


UPDATE: May 2013

The planning application was unanimously rejected by Stroud District Councillors on 23rd April. The applicant may, however, appeal this decision.