Local Plan Review 2019 – and the land at junction 13.

A little background:

The areas marked A and B above are NOT included as potential development sites in the ‘current’ local plan which came into being in 2015. This plan, in theory, governed all decisions taken by SDC planners up until 2031. HOWEVER, because of government legislation, the plan is reviewed and may be amended every 5-6 years or so. This very long winded process started in 2017 and is continuing.

Review history:

2017 saw the publication of a review document entitled ‘Issues and Options‘ alongside a public consultation supposedly to guide strategic planners on what direction to take. Sadly, this land was included as an ‘option’ with the comment:

Land at M5 junction 13 (for employment, open space and community uses only):

  • we objected, seeing this as the direct result of the interest of the landowner, businessman Dale Vince, and his interest in developing there – hardly a ‘strategic’ reason.

2018 saw the review publication from SDC entitled Emerging Strategies – supposedly drawn up after the above public consultations. Despite public opposition, the land had now been given an official designation ‘PS20’, and it says:

PS20 M5 Junction 13:
a) 10 ha employment, canal, open space
b) 18 ha sports stadium and community uses.

  • This was CLEARLY earmarked thus at Dale Vince’s behest.
    Dale owns the company Ecotricity and also the Forest Green Rovers Football Club. The club has been doing well recently, they have championship ambitions and want a new stadium. Ecotricity itself would obviously benefit from the boost in asset value that any such planning permission on this land would represent.

2019 sees the production of what is now the Draft version of the new plan, (i.e. THE new plan which will come into full effect in 2021)

  • This now firms up on exactly what Dale Vince wants: – it says:

PS20 M5 Junction 13:
Land at M5 Junction 13 (in Eastington Parish), as identified on the policies map, is allocated for a strategic mixed use development, including 10 ha employment, sports stadium, sports pitches, canal and open space uses, together with strategic landscaping. Detailed policy criteria will be developed to highlight specific mitigation measures and infrastructure requirements and how development will prioritise walking, cycling and public transport over the use of the private car.
A development brief incorporating an indicative masterplan, to be approved by the District Council, will detail the way in which the land uses and infrastructure will be developed in an integrated and co-ordinated manner.

Note that ‘Site allocations identified… [includes PS20]’ are supposed to be allocated for development that will meet local and strategic growth
. We have seen no evidence to date that any of these ‘needs’ currently exist for this localit. New development land was allocated within Great Oldbury, and further allocations are sought by other areas in the District.

  • We say that any industrial development so close to junction 13 will simply act as a honeypot site attracting factories and industry away from where they are really needed – and planned for – within Stroud District as well as encouraging outside commuter traffic.
  • We also believe that the football stadium is a STRATEGIC ERROR. The proposed prestiege stadium is strategically inappropriate here – it would be too small and remote for a ‘championship’ stadium should FGR ambitions be realised – or too large and expensive if they are not. In either case it stands a good chance of becoming an embarrassing white elephant in years to come.

We would also add that one of the Core Strategies of the Draft Plan, (CP11),which although re-worded to allow more industrial development still says

Permission will be granted for industrial or business development, or for the expansion or intensification of existing industrial or business uses, recognising the specific locational requirements of different sectors, provided that the proposals would:
1. Be of a type and scale of activity that does not harm the character, appearance or environment of the site or its surroundings or to the amenity of occupiers of nearby properties.

  • We therefore fail to see how this land allocation can be justified in the rural Parish of Eastington


Consultation on the next Local Plan Review closes January 22nd 2020 – up until then you can see the plans and post comments on the    Stroud Local Plan Review website

There are also public drop-ins where you can see the latest Local Plan Review maps and documents and  talk to the planners

at Slimbridge Village Hall
Monday Afternoon  16th December  2pm – 6.30pm   and
Tuesday Morning  17th December 9.30 – 12.30
and also
 Berkeley Town Hall   Saturday 11 January: 12pm to 4pm.

– come along and tell the planners what you want to see ( or not see!!!)