Multi-million pound Sharpness plan treads water
By Simon Hacker | 25th April 2023
An ambitious multi-million pound project for 300 new homes, a hotel and extensive tourism and leisure attractions at Sharpness Marina has been pushed back by a delayed report on the local cost of the scheme – but the go-ahead now looks like a done deal.
As well as a hotel, the bid will see up to 100 lodges for visitors to stay in, a new camp site, public open space, parking and a new access road.
Stroud planning officers' decision to postpone the decision today represents another twist in a multimillion-pound development bid that began nine years ago when the Canal and Rivers Trust (CRT) initially floated the idea of a huge redevelopment on land adjacent to Sharpness Docks.
Since then, a lengthy consultation has met with broad approval: in March 2015, 68% of respondents to a consultation from the Sharpness Docks Estate (SDE) supported the case that the project would improve biodiversity and enhance ecology, while 61% thought it would enhance the landscape.
Local opposition, however, has been galvanised by the project and 57 objections, in all, have piled in. "What are these tourists coming to see?" wrote one resident. "The burnt out wreck of a warehouse, the huge windmill or just soak up the rusty cranes and warehouses on the dock? This is just ridiculous and obviously part of the long term goal of shutting the dock and turning it into a big marina."
Hinton Parish Council has also voiced objection to the use of Oldminster Road for access.
The parish said: "Access along the road is difficult already without another 500-plus cars! The Dock Road was purposely built to take the weight of heavier vehicles, caravans also use this road frequently for events held at the Dockers Club. This would be the perfect access to the development."
In January 2018, Natural England said it approved, with appropriate mitigation, including home-owner information packs to new residents.
In the latest stage for the application, officers noted: "Officers were due to receive an updated report on the viability of the scheme from the District Valuer but have been informed that this will not be received until after the date of the meeting. As such, it is not appropriate for this application to be considered without this supporting information."
Subsequent to public consultation, the CRT applied in April 2017 for outline permission for mixed-use development which includes up to 300 dwellings (C3), industrial and distribution development (B1c,B2,B8) on 6.6 hectares of land 2 no. marinas, up to 1250m2 of ancillary retail/ food and drink uses (A1,A2,A3 and A4) and up to 7,000m2 of commercial floor space (B1 office/light industrial of which no more than 4300m2 to be B1 office).
Up to 100 holiday lodges/camping pitches, a hotel, a public open space, landscaping, visitor parking, new access road and associated infrastructure are also outlined in the proposal.
Despite objections, officers have advised the council to approve the outline plan, although the report notes Gloucestershire County Council's calculation that the 300 homes will spell more pressure on edication provision, including 115 extra primary school places, for which Shire Hall will be seeking a contribution of more than £2,094,000.
County Highways added it saw "no justifiable grounds on which an objection could be maintained".
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