Ecotricity and the Local Plan
The NPPF, the Government’s planning guideline, whilst promoting a presumption in favour of sustainable development, requires that primacy be given to adopted Local Development Plans. Stroud has had an adopted Local Plan since December 2015.
The Strategic Objectives of the Stroud Local plan require that all new development be ‘in, or adjacent to, or an extension of’ existing settlements and facilities. The Plan prioritises six Strategic sites, adjacent to our large market towns, and the regeneration of brownfield sites in the Stroud Valleys. These priorities do not include this site.
- Strategic Objective SO2 : “Providing for a strong, diverse, vibrant local economy that enables balanced economic growth……..across the District”
- This proposal is the opposite of “diverse” and “balanced” – a honeypot site sucking in commuters, whilst putting at risk the strategically planned, balanced and genuinely more sustainable employment sites for Cam and Dursley, Berkeley/Sharpness, Hardwicke/Hunts Grove and Stonehouse .
- Ecotricity have tried to suggest that the detail of the Local Plan does not contain sufficient provision for future employment space. Stroud refute this utterly, and are supported both by the Government Inspector and by accredited independent evaluation.
- Strategic Objective SO5: “maximising the re-use of buildings”…and “Promoting the use of …. brownfield land”
- The proposal would clearly hinder this objective, by building on greenfield land and disadvantaging potential equivalent brownfield development in the Stroud valleys.
- Strategic Objective SO4: “promoting healthier alternatives to theuse of the private car”
- Given the distance to the train station, the meagre bus service and the unliklyhood of the A419 being improved sufficiently to make cycling or walking comfortable, the main access to this will be by car. In addition, the honeypot nature of this site is likely to cause replacement of sustainably located jobs.
The Core Policies are concerned with the translation of the objectives into more detailed planning policies:-
- Core Policy CP2 says that “The policies within the Local Plan identify designated areas where balanced housing, employment and retail development are considered appropriate”
- This site is NOT so designated and MUST therefore be considered inappropriate.
- Core Policy CP14 says it supports “high quality development which protects, conserves and enhances the built and natural environment….and which ….. produces no unacceptable levels of air, noise, light or pollution…”
- This proposal clearly does not enhance the natural environment – but a football stadium would generate a level of noise and light unacceptable to residents nearby – not least to the existing vulnerable people at William Morris College right next door.
- Core Policy CP15 says “In order to protect the separate identity of settlements and the quality of the countryside …. Proposals outside identified settlement development limits will not be permittedexcept” …(…where the development is ‘essential’… )…
- The proposal is totally outside settlement development limits and is certainly not essential in the context of this policy.
- Core policy CP15 does allow for the provision of sport, leisure and tourism facilities where this protects the quality of and promotes public enjoyment of the countryside.
- This proposal is clearly not designed to protect the countryside or promote the public’s enjoyment of it.
The proposal is contrary to the Local Development Plan and would normally be refused unless material considerations indicate otherwise. If the words ‘material considerations’ are twisted far enough to allow this proposal then no-where in the district is safe from inappropriate development.