Restoring Your Railway Funding

The Sharpness line has NOT been successful in securing ‘Restoring your Railway’ funding.
This is a second failed bid.
As so much of the proposed development plan for this area was based around the re-opening of the line, let’s hope the planning Inspectorate seriously considers this when assessing it’s viability.

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/restoring-your-railway-new-winners-announced-as-government-returns-lost-railway-connections-to-level-up-communities

BaSRAG Response Submitted

The deadline has passed and we hope you managed to get your comments submitted to the Inspector. We’ve had plenty of engagement with the community so we are hopeful the Planning Inspector will have a clear understanding of your thoughts on the Local Plan.

Attached below is the extensive response from BaSRAG. We would like to thank all of the people who have contributed. It’s taken a lot of work, however you will see by the number of topics covered and evidence provided we feel we have a very strong case to put to the Inspector.

There will be a moment of calm as the responses are collated by SDC however we will keep you updated as soon as they confirm the next steps.

Enjoy the summer!

Best wishes

BaSRAG (Berkeley and Sharpness Residents Action Group)

Respond to the Planning Inspector by 21st July 2021

This is our best opportunity to have the plans for over 5,000 houses to be built around Sharpness & Berkeley overturned.

2,400 houses by 2040 and a further 2,600 by 2050

Process

Open the Stroud District Council online Response Form

Follow the instructions below. If it’s easier you can open a printable version of the instructions at the bottom of this page.


Scroll Down to the bottom of the page and under ‘Declaration’ tick to say you have understood the general advice then click the ‘Next Page’ button.


Enter your contact details and then click the ‘Next Page’ button.


Scroll Down to the bottom of the page and then click the ‘Next Page’ button.


Q1 – Tick ‘Yes’
Q2- Do you consider the site allocations to be ‘Legally Compliant’ – Leave blank
‘Sound’ – Tick ‘No’
‘Complies with the Duty to Cooperate’ – Leave blank


Q3a-Q6b – Feel free to object or support these areas as you see fit. Simply tick to support, object or leave blank. Leave your comments in the box provided. BaSRAG is not opposed to all development in the area, rather we do not agree on the disproportionate allocation proposed by site PS36.


Q7a PS36 Sharpness new settlement

Tick to ‘Object’

In the box you can add your comments.

Gold Response!
It would be ideal if you could fully outline your objection as this would provide more weight to our argument. To assist you you can find an overview of our main concerns on our Issues page. If you still have a response you have written from a previous consultation round you could use this.

Silver Response
Any comment from you, no matter how long would be great. The more you write in your own words the more powerful your response will be. Rather than commenting on all the issues you may just comment on an issue closest to your heart e.g. roads, environment, facilities etc. It doesn’t need to be long, just representative of your views.

Bronze Response
Alternatively if you are short of time just insert ‘I support the position of BaSRAG’ and you can attach the response we have put together at the end of the process. Any response is better than no response at all!


Q7b – Add any comments you have otherwise leave blank


Q8a/b – Feel free to object or support this area as you see fit. Simply tick to support, object or leave blank. Leave your comments in the box provided.


Scroll Down to the bottom of the page and then click the ‘Next Page’ button.


Q9 onwards – Feel free to object or support these areas as you see fit. Simply tick to support, object or leave blank. Leave your comments in the box provided.

Otherwise tick ‘No I have no further comments to make and would now like to submit my response.

Scroll Down to the bottom of the page and then click the ‘Next Page’ button.


You can now upload any supporting documents. Feel free to download and save the response we have put together to support your own response:

Click ‘Choose File’ and then choose our Response Document

Scroll Down to the bottom of the page and then click the ‘Next Page’ button.


Q162 – We would recommend you choose ‘Yes’ to all of these to keep up to date.
Q163a/b – Answer how you see fit. If in doubt choose ‘No‘ for 163a and leave 163b ‘blank’


Scroll Down to the bottom of the page and then click the ‘Finish Survey’ button.

Should you have any questions or difficulties please do not hesitate to contact us.

Options for Local Plan Consultation

Dear All,

Since our last newsletter, we have been in contact with the council and others about the methods they are making available for responding to the consultation.

Our main issue at this stage is how difficult they are making it for concerned members of the public to effectively have their voices heard. At the moment, there is simply the choice of filling out a lengthy online questionnaire, or completing a shorter form and sending it in by email or post.

We are hoping sense will prevail, but are not overly optimistic. Either way, in the coming weeks, we will aim to give you practical advice about the best way to participate.

To remind you where you can find the various pieces of information:
The full draft Local Plan is here: 

https://www.stroud.gov.uk/environment/planning-and-building-control/planning-strategy/stroud-district-local-plan-review/local-plan-review-pre-submission-draft-local-plan-regulation-19-consultation-may-2021

The section referring to the Berkeley Cluster is here: 

https://www.stroud.gov.uk/media/1485606/part-3e_pre-submission-draft-plan-2021_final-25-05-21.pdf

We are going through the proposals carefully to make sure we are marshalling all the key arguments. While we are awaiting definitive guidance on ways to participate in the consultation, you may want to start thinking about what case you want to make to the independent Inspector. We would suggest concentrating on issues of particular interest to you, eg the environment, transport, general lack of infrastructure, etc.

We will update our website with comments about the key issues as soon as possible.  

Thanks once again for all your support. Please make sure your friends and family are fully aware of what is going on, and signed up for our newsletters or to our Facebook page, so that they get the latest advice.

Best wishes,

BaSRAG (Berkeley and Sharpness Residents’ Action Group)

The Local Plan has been published today on the Stroud District Council website

Very much like earlier stages of this process, the council has not made it easy for concerned people to examine the Plan but you can see the section of the plan as it relates to Berkeley and Sharpness here – 

https://www.stroud.gov.uk/media/1485606/part-3e_pre-submission-draft-plan-2021_final-25-05-21.pdf

This section contains the plans not just for the massive so-called garden village with up to 5,000 houses by 2050, but also the other sites in and around Berkeley and Sharpness, totalling another 540 houses.

The consultation period runs from now been extended until Wednesday 21st July.

If you want to see the whole plan, go to

https://www.stroud.gov.uk/environment/planning-and-building-control/planning-strategy/stroud-district-local-plan-review/local-plan-review-pre-submission-draft-local-plan-regulation-19-consultation-may-2021 

BaSRAG will be checking this updated Plan closely to establish what changes there are, if any, to the previously published plans for our area. We will then at the weekend send you updated guidance as to the best way to respond to the consultation.

Remember, this time your responses will be put before an independent Inspector. You may think, with some justification, that your previous comments have largely been ignored by the council. We have good reason, based on other public examinations around the country, to believe that the Inspector will take notice of strong, rational arguments.

In the meantime, can we ask again if you know of any experts out there that have good knowledge of specialist fields such as the environment, transport, employment, planning etc that can help us to pick holes in the so-called evidence base for these plans.

Apologies for asking you again to take part in yet another consultation, but we believe this is our best chance yet for common sense to prevail.

We will be in touch again at the weekend.

Best wishes,

BaSRAG (Berkeley and Sharpness Residents’ Action Group)

New housing consultation deadline is near!

The deadline for making submissions to the latest housing consultation is Wednesday 16th December. 

BaSRAG has now submitted its views. In summary, they are that:

•            If additional housing is required, we support a hybrid solution of options A (intensify housing within urban extension sites) & C (additional growth points)

•            These new growth points at Whitminster and Moreton Valence / Hardwicke are far more sustainable in terms of employment potential and infrastructure than the one proposed at Sharpness

•            We do not support the approach of identifying a reserve site or sites in case allocated sites do not come forward. Instead the council should be reviewing the whole Local Plan in the light of the significant potential new sites and evidence that has belatedly emerged since the original proposals.

If you wish to read our full submission, it can be seen by clicking the button below.

You are obviously free to ‘borrow’ as much or as little of our material as you wish.

If you are concerned about the huge development planned for Berkeley and Sharpness, please contribute to the consultation, either by completing the questionnaire or in writing. All the options for submissions are:

Email local.plan@stroud.gov.uk

Write to Local Plan Review
The Planning Strategy Team
Stroud District Council
Ebley Mill
GL5 4UB

Complete questionnaire at https://www.smartsurvey.co.uk/s/GBCI7A/

BaSRAG thoughts on the Council’s additional housing sites consultation

Stroud District Council is conducting a new consultation about the Local Plan. In summary, they are asking the public their views on –

  • What approach they should take if they are required by government to build even more houses than currently planned (or if some sites already earmarked get removed from the process at a later stage)
  • More specific sites that have come forward since the last consultation

The full consultation paper together with background papers and Powerpoint presentations can be seen at the council’s website – https://www.stroud.gov.uk/localplanreview 

We of course hope you will take the time to read the consultation document and let the council know what you think about it. You can write, email or complete their online questionnaire.

The questionnaire asks you first what you think about four possible approaches they could take when deciding how and where to provide additional housing. Those options are, broadly –

  • A. To build more intensively on sites already identified close to existing larger urban centres
  • B. Look for more sites at the smaller towns and larger villages
  • C. A new growth point for a large settlement – similar to the one proposed for ‘Sharpness Vale’ but more sustainably positioned. Two potential locations have been identified along the A38 corridor and close to the motorway.
  • D. Wider dispersal amongst smaller villages, as well as those identified under option B.

We strongly believe that a hybrid approach combining option A and Option C is the best one as it is entirely consistent with our argument that any development should be sustainable in terms of employment and transport links. Increasing densities at sites adjacent to existing urban areas and the new potential growth points further up the A38 and closer to Gloucester and Cheltenham tick those boxes far more than 5,000 houses built on the banks of the Severn, remote from any significant employment opportunities or major transport links.

The online questionnaire is a bit less complicated than those produced at previous stages of this process. It asks you first for your opinions on the four possible options as outlined above. It then goes on to ask about specific sites that have come forward since the last iteration of the Plan. These include two smallish sites in Berkeley.

We shall be strongly supporting the intensification of sites close to existing urban centres and new growth point developments at Whitminster and Moreton Valence.

The council asks that we do not repeat arguments that we have made at previous stages of this process; however, a positive support of different, better positioned, more sustainable growth points succinctly emphasises how unsuitable Sharpness is!

Whether or not the current government plans to increase housing numbers go ahead, these options are a much better alternative to the proposal to build houses in such huge numbers at ‘Sharpness Vale’.

The final part of the questionnaire asks for your comments on the Sustainability Appraisal which is a 127 page document commissioned to analyse the suitability (or otherwise) of the approaches and sites discussed in the current consultation. If you read the entire document – congratulations! Whether you choose to comment on it in the questionnaire is entirely optional.

The consultation runs until 16th December.

Finally, and as a bit of an aside, those eagle-eyed readers of the consultation document may notice that the basic maps shown alongside the main strategy options have got the rail link from Sharpness drawn in. Obviously, this is intended to make Sharpness appear more sustainable, but to rely on a link which won’t exist for at least 20 years if at all is, in our view, quite outrageous!

If you have any queries or need any help, please get in touch at contact@basrag.com  

BaSRAG Response to the Government’s “Planning for the Future” White Paper

The consultation on the ‘Planning for the Future’ White Paper ends on Thursday 29 October.

Shown below is our response to the consultation. Please feel free to ‘borrow’ parts of our response if you agree with our position and wish to add your voice to the views expressed by the public.

We believe the proposals in the White Paper are fundamentally flawed for the following reasons:

– It is assumed that delays in housebuilding are due to faults in the planning system. It is the responsibility of planners to make housing land available, but it is the housebuilding industry that is responsible for building the houses. There are planning permissions for over one million houses which have not been built. These proposals do nothing to address that developers will wait until the most advantageous time for them to build.

– The new laws will make the provision of much needed low cost and affordable housing even more limited.

– The public will have much less opportunity to meaningfully scrutinise future plans. It provides a broad brush approach to planning, effectively reducing the opportunity for local communities to shape their own area. You refer to the TCPA, RTPI and the GBC as providing evidence, yet all these bodies are critical of significant elements of the White Paper, specifically that it is not likely to achieve its specific aims.

– In addition to those mentioned above, diverse and key bodies such as RIBA, CPRE, Friends of the Earth and the Local Government Association have significant and legitimate concerns about these proposals and the views of these experts must be taken into account.

– The proposals largely ignore the importance of countryside in addressing the climate emergency, biodiversity, wildlife and other government commitments, for example to increase tree coverage.

– The proposals for the change to the new Standard Method should have been included within this White Paper and not the subject of a separate and shorter consultation.

– The new Standard Method would lead to a greater volume of housebuilding in the South, perpetuating the North-South divide.

– Additionally, In our area (Stroud District), the fact that the AONB would be (correctly) protected, would put impossible pressure on the rest of the District if the new algorithm is instituted.

– The current proposals will pressure local authorities to meet a significantly enhanced housing requirement forced on them by the Standard Method algorithm without taking into account what we need and what makes our area special. The assessment of housing need and capacity should consider local landscapes, environmental designations, conservation, flood plains, the LNP tree strategy, demographic factors and varying components of household projections which can impact the algorithm affordability calculations, infrastructure and services.

– It is highly likely that to meet the proposed algorithm’s housing requirement, properties would need to be built on flood plains. This is unacceptable, unnecessary and immoral.

– The intention of the new affordability adjustment is to identify undersupply where high house prices signify an imbalance between supply and demand. It is also to put more pressure on authorities which have seen worsening affordability over a 10 year timeframe. There is no evidence to suggest the proposals will have the desired impact on property affordability or the supply of homes for those in a housing crisis.

– Whilst there is probably an overcomplicated series of assessments currently required, we have significant concerns about replacing the existing tests of soundness with a Sustainable Development test, and abolishing the Duty to Cooperate.

– We agree that only those who are truly committed engage with the consultation process, but these proposals will not make it easier to do so. In some ways, opportunities will become much more limited.

– It is a stated aim that the proposals will favour the small builder and SMEs, but our reading suggests the opposite, and will be beneficial for the big players.

– The overall thrust of the proposals places any meaningful opportunity that the public has to influence planning decisions at the Local Plan stage and not when a specific development is being considered. Yet the public will only have 6 weeks in which to consider a draft Local Plan, at the same time as which it has been submitted to the Secretary of State for Examination.

– We agree that the current system for developer contributions to affordable housing and infrastructure is not adequate, but no evidence as to how these proposals will improve this situation.

In conclusion, we find that the proposals lack specificity, and details are replaced by assertion and rhetoric. However, the laudable aims stated in the PM’s introduction – encouraging sustainable and beautiful development, making it harder for developers to dodge their obligations, and giving the public a greater say over what gets built in their community – are not met by these proposals.

Our local Conservative MP, Siobhan Baillie, has written to the Minister with her concerns. 

The current planning system is far from perfect, but this affront to local democracy is not the answer. No attempt is made in these proposals to force developers to proceed with building once permission has been granted, which is probably the single most significant cause of housebuilding targets not being met.

Local Plan Delayed as Council Consults on more Housing Sites


The council has confirmed that the timetable for the Local Plan has been delayed. It now intends to present a final version to the full Council in February 2021 for approval for consultation. Following this there will be a six week public consultation. It would then be submitted to government for examination at Public Inquiry in May 2021.

We have no idea how, if at all, our previously expressed views will be reflected in the final Draft Local Plan. The planners do not intend to publish a report on the last consultation in advance of their final draft.

Meanwhile, the government has proposed a change to the way the housing requirement for each local authority should be calculated. Stroud believes that if approved, they will be bound to increase their building requirement from 638 to 786 homes per annum.

As a result, the council has launched a new consultation in which it asks the public to consider some additional sites which could be included in the final Draft Local Plan alongside all those previously identified. This is in part to meet any potential shortfall in housing numbers due to the new calculation, and in case any of the existing proposed sites are removed or reduced by the council.

They also ask the public for their views on what strategy they should follow in finding additional land on which to build.

This new consultation runs until 16th December and details can be seen on the council’s website here – https://www.stroud.gov.uk/localplanreview

Please take time to look at what is being proposed and consider whether this has implications for Berkeley-Sharpness either in addition to the proposals put forward in the Draft Local Plan or as alternatives to them. Whilst the Council is encouraging responses via their online questionnaire it will also accept emailed and written responses so please do not be put off from responding by their focus on online responses!

You can view the thoughts of BaSRAG on the Council’s new consultation by clicking here