Planning row erupts in Stroud

Planning row erupts in Stroud

(l-r) Katie Hill, seven, Lydia Coysh, 10, and Charlie Hill, six at one of the many protests to save the Slad Valley which was successful

Leonard Stanley residents joined by Neil Carmichael and their local councillors to protest against the proposed development on Mankley Field

Slad Valley Action Group fighting plans for development on Baxter’s Field last summer

First published in News
Last updated
Stroud News and Journal: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

A ROW over planning policy in Stroud has erupted following claims by Stroud MP Neil Carmichael that the Labour-led Stroud District Council is to blame for inappropriate developments such as Mankley Field.

Mr Carmichael has reiterated the value of local and neighbourhood plans amid criticisms of the Labour group at SDC for not getting the local plan in place sooner.

He has claimed that Labour’s failure to get a local plan in place amounted to a ‘developer’s charter’.

The comments followed the recent news that 150 homes on Mankley Field in Leonard Stanley were to go ahead and comments by the planning inspector, who cited the lack of credible local and neighbourhood plans as a reason for overturning the appeal by developers Gladman.

Mr Carmichael said several constituents have written to him expressing their concern and incredulity at the ongoing lack of a local plan to protect the green spaces around the Stroud Valleys and Vale.

The draft plan was put on hold after the inspector warned that Stroud District Council’s projected housing allocation was unrealistic and the council was given six months to re-asses its figures.

“Labour-led Stroud District Council has created an open door for developers to sweep into our beautiful Valleys and Vale by failing to get a local plan in place,” said Mr Carmichael

“This amounts to Labour’s Developer’s Charter.

“It is critical that communities reclaim power to control development in their communities through working together to develop Neighbourhood Plans.”

Prior to the Government reshuffle, Neil Carmichael wrote to Planning Minister Nick Boles and received confirmation back that the Government would give weight to emerging local and neighbourhood plans.

Currently there are 10 parishes across the district in the process of creating neighbourhood plans.

SDC leader Geoff Wheeler has responded to Mr Carmichael's comments.

Stroud News and Journal:

Neil Carmichael continues to attempt to discredit SDC and disingenuously imply that we are to blame for not being able to defend against major planning applications in the district.
He plays politics by slamming the ‘Labour-led’ council for being behind with its local plan, when in fact we are the first of all six Gloucestershire districts to submit its local plan to the secretary of state for examination. Bearing in mind that four of them are Conservative-led, is he also criticising them?

Mr Carmichael also omits to state that Stroud was well advanced in its preparation of its core strategy, which considered future housing numbers, when the goal posts were moved by his government, which revoked planning policies and introduced the National Planning Policy Framework – causing significant delays to our plans.

His own government forced these delays and we are now seeing the consequences with applications such as Mankley Field. Mr Carmichael was keen to have his photograph taken with residents opposed to this predatory planning application even though it was his own government which brought the situation to bear. His support is of little use if he cannot influence the implementation of the NPPF.

A local plan can typically take three to five years from start to finish and require several hundred thousand pounds of taxpayers’ money to complete. Additionally, MPs of all political persuasions have queried the workings of the NPPF, but not Mr Carmichael. Even the MP for the Cotswold constituency, which includes part of Stroud district, Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, has been supportive in making representations on the working of the NPPF.

Some months ago I wrote to Mr Carmichael with my concerns that he continued to make references to the Stroud local plan that did not bear examination. I suggested that he should acknowledge the facts about the Stroud local plan and publish a full retraction of his comments. That retraction was never made and he continues with his ill-informed comments.

Green councillor Simon Pickering

Stroud News and Journal:

How deluded can Neil get? Neighbourhood plans are specifically designed by the current Government to encourage development and carry absolutely no weight in protecting any land from development. It is blatantly disingenuous to imply neighbourhood plans can stop development and give local community the hope that they can.

I am equally frustrated that we haven’t yet got the local plan adopted but that is down the current Conservative-led Government sweeping away previous planning legislation that did allow local communities to protect important local green spaces and replacing with a new pro-built development planning guidance (NPPF) part way through the process.

The current, Labour, Green, Lib Dem administration has set an exceedingly tight timetable to get the local plan completed as quickly as is possible. Our MP’s comments about the lack of local plan are an insult to hard working forward planning officers at Stroud District Council who have been working flat out to get a local plan in place and I believe that he should give a public apology to them over his current outburst.

If Neil Carmichael is genuinely concerned about the lack of a local plan, rather than getting re-elected, he should start working constructively with the administration.

Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group Paul Hemming

Stroud News and Journal:

Neil Carmichael’s comments serve no useful purpose whatsoever to the immense amount of work being done in order to progress an agreed local plan for the Stroud district.

Of course we should have an up-to-date plan, but then so should all of Gloucestershire and all other counties in the UK.
Even if there was an agreed adopted plan development is not guaranteed.

Developers are primarily interested in little investment for the maximum return and so many sites where permissions have already been granted lay undeveloped – these often unsightly brownfield areas.

To suggest that neighbourhood plans are the panacea to all that is wrong with planning is a disservice to all those involved. Neighbourhood plans are by definition produced locally by parish or groups of parishes, by unpaid volunteers, who have other commitments. They may certainly help towards an overall plan, but like everything else take a long time and an immense amount of effort to produce.

Overall strategy is the responsibility of government and sadly all we have is the NPPF. A Licence to Develop. A document which negates much of the previous and sensible good practice and legislation, some of which required pruning, not wholesale removal.

John Jones, chairman of the Conservative Group at Stroud District Council, said he did not wish to comment on Mr Carmichael’s statement. He did, however, make the following non-political points.

Stroud News and Journal:

The process of working up a new local plan to replace the one adopted in 2005 began when the Conservative Group held the administration at Stroud District Council.

Because of the consultation periods needed at each stage and the responses to those consultations to be evaluated, it has taken a considerable length of time to get to the draft submission stage of the emerging local plan.

I know for a fact the officer team in planning strategy have been working flat out to get this far.

Now the inspector at the examination in public has told the council to rethink parts of its draft submission. That will mean even more time needed.

Meanwhile, all parts of the Stroud district are vulnerable to speculative developers trying their luck with applications for development.

Comments (6)

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7:48pm Wed 13 Aug 14

BigBoy22 says...

So, there is cross party agreement that Neil is an idiot. Even his own party agree but won't go as far as admitting it. Political suicide Neil. Congrats.
So, there is cross party agreement that Neil is an idiot. Even his own party agree but won't go as far as admitting it. Political suicide Neil. Congrats. BigBoy22
  • Score: 8

8:12pm Wed 13 Aug 14

Phyllus Jones says...

Closing the barn door after the horse has escaped. I now live far away but lived in Cashes Green in the 1950s. An idyllic place to live. Now row upon row of houses almost up to Randwick. Plans should have been in place decades ago to stop the endless urban sprawl around Stroud. Still time, but very very late in the day!
Closing the barn door after the horse has escaped. I now live far away but lived in Cashes Green in the 1950s. An idyllic place to live. Now row upon row of houses almost up to Randwick. Plans should have been in place decades ago to stop the endless urban sprawl around Stroud. Still time, but very very late in the day! Phyllus Jones
  • Score: 2

10:41am Thu 14 Aug 14

jaytee8937 says...

The Core strategy could and should be far more advanced than it is. The Council have been advised at every stage by their planning officers and guidance from the office of the Secretary of State but they still persisted in putting forward a document that the majority of individuals in the planning and development industry knew would not stand up to scrutiny. Over a year ago the Secretary of State office advised that to include a reserve site to bolster numbers was a good idea ( nudge, nudge, wink, wink). The council did not. With so many unbuilt permissions still existing at Hunts Grove the allocation this time round of 500 has a large ? mark against it. Will they get built in this planning period? 300 at Sharpness? Will they ever get built? The last houses built there were sold at a huge discount. 500 at Cam at a site with huge infrastructure problems and then we have 'Windfall sites'. These windfall sites are ones that have not been identified but suddenly pop up at a rate of 50 a year. Is this sound planning? These 'greedy, rapacious and profit seeking' developers took one look and it was on for young and old. The rest is history. As usual S.D.C. blame anyone but themselves and egged on by a few vociferous nimbys they are in a dire predicament and the people of Stroud are getting housing in places they do not want. As I write close to 450 permissions have been lost on appeal and SDC will not benefit from grants for these from Central Government. Apparently they are awash with money (your money) so they can build 150 council houses. A half truth as they are knocking down older ones and putting dwellings on smaller blocks It is not a Gross figure just a massaging of figures. The silent majority need to get off their behinds, turn off the X factor and ask some questions of these people who we pay to pontificate and listen to their own voices and follow their own agenda. Prime example is David Drew. The champion of Green fields not to be built on. For those of you in the short term memory digital age - this is the man that was our MP when 1500 allocations were given at Colethorpe Farm - now known as Hunts Grove!!!!!!!!!! But now SDC cant dump any more on Glos city boundary, they have to look nearer to Stroud. Is it all getting a bit close and real.........
The Core strategy could and should be far more advanced than it is. The Council have been advised at every stage by their planning officers and guidance from the office of the Secretary of State but they still persisted in putting forward a document that the majority of individuals in the planning and development industry knew would not stand up to scrutiny. Over a year ago the Secretary of State office advised that to include a reserve site to bolster numbers was a good idea ( nudge, nudge, wink, wink). The council did not. With so many unbuilt permissions still existing at Hunts Grove the allocation this time round of 500 has a large ? mark against it. Will they get built in this planning period? 300 at Sharpness? Will they ever get built? The last houses built there were sold at a huge discount. 500 at Cam at a site with huge infrastructure problems and then we have 'Windfall sites'. These windfall sites are ones that have not been identified but suddenly pop up at a rate of 50 a year. Is this sound planning? These 'greedy, rapacious and profit seeking' developers took one look and it was on for young and old. The rest is history. As usual S.D.C. blame anyone but themselves and egged on by a few vociferous nimbys they are in a dire predicament and the people of Stroud are getting housing in places they do not want. As I write close to 450 permissions have been lost on appeal and SDC will not benefit from grants for these from Central Government. Apparently they are awash with money (your money) so they can build 150 council houses. A half truth as they are knocking down older ones and putting dwellings on smaller blocks It is not a Gross figure just a massaging of figures. The silent majority need to get off their behinds, turn off the X factor and ask some questions of these people who we pay to pontificate and listen to their own voices and follow their own agenda. Prime example is David Drew. The champion of Green fields not to be built on. For those of you in the short term memory digital age - this is the man that was our MP when 1500 allocations were given at Colethorpe Farm - now known as Hunts Grove!!!!!!!!!! But now SDC cant dump any more on Glos city boundary, they have to look nearer to Stroud. Is it all getting a bit close and real......... jaytee8937
  • Score: 2

12:56pm Sun 17 Aug 14

joyus1uk says...

Interesting comments jaytee8937 but in 2012 the Tory administration scuttled out of office in Stroud District and on the back of gains from a democratic election a new administration took over. True to their manifesto the Labour grouping implemented their policy of dispersal. This not a nudge ,nudge wink wink process. It is a democratic one. DCLG and the NPPF purport to be running a "locally determined policy". In truth we have planning policy being led by QCs working for major developers and speculators out to make profit from building houses. They are not concerned with solving a housing shortage they want profit and a return on the donations given to the Tory party before the 2010 election. The new permissions will not be built on for many years. Thehouses will not be sold at low prices but the market price at the time. Stroud District has outstanding permissions for 4,000 houses but these are not being started. Why? Because the profit is not there. jaytee8937 are you a Tory or property developer?
Interesting comments jaytee8937 but in 2012 the Tory administration scuttled out of office in Stroud District and on the back of gains from a democratic election a new administration took over. True to their manifesto the Labour grouping implemented their policy of dispersal. This not a nudge ,nudge wink wink process. It is a democratic one. DCLG and the NPPF purport to be running a "locally determined policy". In truth we have planning policy being led by QCs working for major developers and speculators out to make profit from building houses. They are not concerned with solving a housing shortage they want profit and a return on the donations given to the Tory party before the 2010 election. The new permissions will not be built on for many years. Thehouses will not be sold at low prices but the market price at the time. Stroud District has outstanding permissions for 4,000 houses but these are not being started. Why? Because the profit is not there. jaytee8937 are you a Tory or property developer? joyus1uk
  • Score: -2

9:11am Mon 18 Aug 14

jaytee8937 says...

Neither joyus1uk, wanna guess gender for a best of 3? Dispersal was rejected and this present policy is most certainly NOT dispersal. However you are getting dispersal by default courtesy of appeals. Common sense seems lost on you. Completions at Hunts grove were, and still are, at a snails pace due to being literally over the hedge from Quedgley Village consortium. When SDC granted 1500 there anyone with sense would see that having 2000+ in spitting distance would mean that selling at anything but snails pace was the obvious outcome. Nonetheless SDC had filled their quota for the period by dumping on Glos boundary and 500 at Brockworth ( Chelt/ Glos boundary).So now people like you can quote these permissions, saying we have plenty. So the last period allocation is unused so SDC put 500 more there in its Core Strategy. Thank God stupidity is not contagious, just prevalent at councillor level. As a resident of Stroud for over 50 years I lament the slow demise of what was a thriving Town. As a friend in Tetbury said the other day, 'why would I go to Stroud when I can go to Ciren'. How times have changed !!!!!
Neither joyus1uk, wanna guess gender for a best of 3? Dispersal was rejected and this present policy is most certainly NOT dispersal. However you are getting dispersal by default courtesy of appeals. Common sense seems lost on you. Completions at Hunts grove were, and still are, at a snails pace due to being literally over the hedge from Quedgley Village consortium. When SDC granted 1500 there anyone with sense would see that having 2000+ in spitting distance would mean that selling at anything but snails pace was the obvious outcome. Nonetheless SDC had filled their quota for the period by dumping on Glos boundary and 500 at Brockworth ( Chelt/ Glos boundary).So now people like you can quote these permissions, saying we have plenty. So the last period allocation is unused so SDC put 500 more there in its Core Strategy. Thank God stupidity is not contagious, just prevalent at councillor level. As a resident of Stroud for over 50 years I lament the slow demise of what was a thriving Town. As a friend in Tetbury said the other day, 'why would I go to Stroud when I can go to Ciren'. How times have changed !!!!! jaytee8937
  • Score: 2

1:07pm Tue 19 Aug 14

Reasonable_Person says...

Great stuff jaytee8937.
It appears "joyus1uk" is a pathetic labour council stooge, coming on these comment boards with quite remarkable spin worthy of Campbell / Mandelson era Blair. Surprise surprise.
I wonder who he / she / it can sleep at night, but I would imagine if you are spaced out enough to believe political party propaganda nonsense you're basically asleep all the time anyway...
Great stuff jaytee8937. It appears "joyus1uk" is a pathetic labour council stooge, coming on these comment boards with quite remarkable spin worthy of Campbell / Mandelson era Blair. Surprise surprise. I wonder who he / she / it can sleep at night, but I would imagine if you are spaced out enough to believe political party propaganda nonsense you're basically asleep all the time anyway... Reasonable_Person
  • Score: 1

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