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Hillside development of 250 homes in Cheltenham approved

Plans to build 250 homes on a hillside in Cheltenham can roll ahead.

Vistry Homes Limited And Stonewater Limited are celebrating after their joint proposal for Oakley Farm was finally approved.

The companies can now build a new neighbourhood climbing up Priors Road and overlooked by Harp Hill.

Outline planning for the site was granted on appeal in 2022 and a reserved matters application providing in depth details of the development was submitted in October 2023.

It was brought before a planning committee in December 2023 with officers initially recommending it for approval.

This was despite 57 objections from residents, many raising concerns about the hundreds of extra vehicles using Greenway Lane, Harp Hill and other surrounding roads.

County council officers raised concerns about the gradient of the site and whether any developer would be able to make it acceptable for wheelchair users.

Members of the committee voted to defer the application to allow them more time to consider revisions submitted to address the issue.

The application came back before them last Thursday (May 30) with the recommendation to approve.

Tony Clements, speaking on behalf of the applicants, said: "From the outset it has been apparent that the site demands a high quality, tailored solution that can deliver against the terms of the outline planning permission, in what is a highly challenging and sensitive location."

He said the lengthy process undertaken between the applicant and council officers had resulted in a development of "high quality new homes that the county so desperately needs".

Cllr Simon Wheeler (Lib Dem,Hesters Way) said: "This is on a very steep slope and while it is uncomfortable to think there will be wheelchair users that are going to have great difficulty getting up the hills.

"But this is a hill and therefore you have to have roads that aren't ideal. I wish there was a way around it but short of putting in lifts I can't see how it could be done. So I will be supporting this."

Cllr Garth Barnes (Collage, Lib Dems) said: "We're not the only community that has hills, think of Bath and we all get over those issues.

"I think this is a good scheme that will provide some significant housing for this town and takes us off the precipice of the five year housing supply we have.

"No development is without its issues and clearly this has some but I think they have tried to mitigate most of them so I would support it."

The proposed homes range from one-storey bungalows to three storey town houses and apartments.

Many of the houses have been designed to step up or down the hill depending on their orientation.

Of the 250 homes, 150 will be open market for sale and 100 will be affordable homes managed by Stonewater.

Cllr Glen Andrews (Lansdown, Lib Dems) said: "Only 32% social housing out of the affordable housing is a bit disappointing. But I will be supporting it and I think this is the best we can possibly get from this particular site."

Councillors voted unanimously to approve the application.

Following the decision Supriya Ray, managing director at Vistry Homes posted on LinkedIn :"I'm really pleased to share the fantastic news that we've obtained detailed planning consent for a luxury new Bovis Homes development in Battledown, an exclusive area of Cheltenham.

"The proposals for a collection of architecturally unique homes were approved last Thursday by Cheltenham Borough Council.

" These homes will complement this beautiful location nestled between Cheltenham town centre and the stunning Cotswolds countryside.

"Construction on this exciting new development is due to start towards the end of this year."

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