Abolition of Regional Spatial Strategies: a planning vacuum? - Communities and Local Government Committee Contents

Written evidence from Leckhampton Green Land Action Group (LEGLAG) (ARSS 104)


This submission supports the Memorandum submitted by Save The Countryside, Cheltenham, and gives details of how the SWRSS (The South West Regional Spatial Strategy) affected the Planning Status of the "Leckhampton Green Land", and Planning Applications on it.

The Land (which we now call the "Leckhampton Green Land" for reasons that will become apparent) that we wish to save from inappropriate large scale development has a long and complex Planning History.

In the 1960s

The County Council created a Green Belt between Cheltenham and Gloucester,whose main purpose was to prevent the two towns merging into one another, but also to discourage "sprawl" around each of the towns. It is not now clear how the boundaries of this Green Belt were determined. As a result of this .exercise, some undeveloped land was left between the boundary of the Green Belt South of Cheltenham and the then built-up area of Leckhampton. This land was then officially called the "Leckhamprton White Land", as it was at that time all in the parish of Leckhampton. (since then, about one quarter of the land has been transferred to Shurdington by boundary changes). This land, formerly the "Leckhampton White Land", is what we now call the "Leckhampton Green Land" or just "The Green Land" and is the land we are mainly trying to save.

In 1993

The Inspector to the Inquiry into the Cheltenham Local Plan recommended that this land should no longer be considered as "white land" but as land that should be conserved because of its accessibility and varied interest, and value, and further recommended that it should not be considered for development until a comprehensive study of all possible building land ion the outskirts of Cheltenham had been carried out by Cheltenham and Tewkesbury Borough Councils in order to find the least damaging option (if indeed such building land were required). The Cheltenham Local Plan duly included a policy to protect this land for its countryside value.

In 1995 Tewkesbury Borough Council (TBC) tried (but failed) to get the part of the Green Land that then lay in Tewkesbury reclassified as "Green Belt".

In 2000

LEGLAG wrote to both TBC and CBC asking them to carry out the comprehensive study of potential building land on the periphery of Cheltenham that the Inspector to the Inquiry to the CBC Local Plan had called for in 1993. There was no response from either Council.

In 2001

TBC put in a proposal for 360 houses on the Tewkesbury part of the Green Land , as part of their Local Plan.

In 2002

LEGLAG objected to this proposal at the Inquiry.

In 2003

The Inspector to the Inquiry to the Tewkesbury. Local Plan supported LEGLAG's objection to building on the Green Land, and suggested using land at Longford instead.

In 2007

After a series of changes of mind, TBC produced a Local Plan including the site that was part of the Green Land, but with the proviso (insisted upon by GOSW at the request of LEGLAG) that development here should be consistent with the SWRSS and also that Cheltenham and Tewkesbury should work together on plans to develop the Green Land.

In 2008

The Draft RSS for the SW included an urban extension of 1,300 dwellings to the S of Cheltenham, but insisted that the two Borough Councils (Cheltenham and Tewkesbury) should work together in planning it.

In 2008

The Inspector to an Inquiry to an Application to build 350 houses on the Green Land in Tewkesbury agreed with LEGLAG that the application was premature, because the conditions laid down by GOSW were not fulfilled.


The effects of the South West Regional Spatial Strategy on the planning History of the "Leckhampton Green Land" have cancelled each other out. On the one hand, the consequence of the very (we would say ridiculously) high overall housing target was to make it inevitable that almost every scrap of developable land would be put into the 20-year plan; but on the other hand, the insistence on good joined-up planning has forced a delay in getting approval that now looks likely to scupper the developers plans for the forseeable future, because the new localism pronciple, combined with the high level of community feeling about this land, will stop any immediate danger of development here. In the longer term Country Park status for the land will be sought.

We therefore support the memorandum submitted on behalf of "Save The Countryside" because we believe that, despite its good intentions, the South West Regional Strategy took insufficient notice of local conditions and would—if it had not been revoked—have eventually forced undesired and undesirable development on land that is much valued by our local community as it is.

September 2010

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