We called in at Slimbridge this afternoon and the planners were very helpful in showing us all the reports and documents that they use to evaluate sites such as this. There is a points system based on various suitability factors for ‘allocation’, and we will scrutinise these reports to see exactly how this decision was arrived at.
Superficially it looks as though ‘PS20’ could have been a bit more sympathetically scored on the basis of flood plain, listed buildings, access (Junction 13 is already recognised as a ‘pinch point’), AoNB considerations, etc. It is all somewhat marginal, but they did agree that there ARE sensitivities to be considered, (and any further planning permissions in the future will clearly be open to challenge).
There does appear to be a quantified ‘need’ for more community space for sports. (not that this necessitates a stadium, of course!) – but again we will need to scrutinise the actual documents and figures. We might be able to argue that this space should only be ‘allocated’ for potential use as open space for community recreation.
In addition we discovered that the ‘need’ for extra employment land in the area is the subject of a report that will not be out until next year – this may well prove the lack of actual ‘need’ for any further industrial development there, but in the meantime (i.e. before the January deadline for comment) we can at least point to this as disappointingly ‘unknown’.
There will be further points in time for us to argue the case during next year as the process goes through its next stages.