Environmental evidence

2016 technical update to the landscape character, sensitivity and capacity assessment of the Cotswolds AONB (2015) – Ryder Landscape Consultants

This study has been updated to take into account consultation response on the previous version, which was released alongside the Issues and Options Consultation of the Cheltenham Plan. The study is an independent assessment of the character, sensitivity and capacity of the AONB landscape by an experienced, chartered landscape architect who conducted site visits and photography and then wrote a detailed appraisal over the spring of 2015.

The study was commissioned in early 2015 to ensure that when considering locations for development as part of the Cheltenham Plan “no stone had been left unturned” as to where development need could be met. Development plans must look at all possible locations before identifying where development should and shouldn’t go.

The study is not policy, but amounts to the professional view of an independently commissioned consultancy that looked at the area as a whole. It will be taken into account as part of a range of factors influencing the site selection process of the Cheltenham Plan. The Cheltenham Plan will first look to meet need in sustainable brownfield locations and those within the principal urban area of the borough before considering any development allocations in the AONB or green belt.

The update to the study doesn’t change its key conclusions on the importance and sensitivity of the AONB or the four (small) areas where it identifies that some development may be possible given an appropriately sensitive scheme, but makes some corrections to text identified through consultation and incorporates the suggested additions to the text suggested by Natural England and the Cotwolds AONB Board.

During the consideration of any planning application this study would be only one factor which would need to be weighed in the balance with other issues such as the proposals’ design and sustainability; and its value in relation to the environmental, social and economic principles of planning before a decision is taken.

Local Green Space study report (January 2015)

We have worked with Gloucestershire Rural Community Council (GRCC) to produce a report pinpointing the green areas of particular importance to local parishes and neighbourhood groups.

National planning policy allows local communities to identify green areas of particular importance to them through the Council’s Development Plan or neighbourhood plans. By designating land as Local Green Space (LGS) local communities are able to rule out new development other than in very special circumstances.

Beginning in October last year, Cheltenham’s parishes and neighbourhood and community groups were asked to identify which areas of land would be good candidates for this designation. The report identifies 29 areas which the communities think might fit the bill. These include detailed information from the parishes at Leckhampton and Swindon Village arguing for LGS to be included within development sites proposed in the Joint Core Strategy which is due for public examination later this year.

The sites identified in the report will carry forward into the forthcoming ‘issues and options’ consultation on the Cheltenham Plan planned for June this year. Most of the areas submitted are already subject to planning protection to varying degrees, so this consultation will ask if the new designation is right for each of the locations or if other places would be more suitable for the ‘upgraded’ protection. It will also be an opportunity for local communities to submit additional evidence of why a particular green space is special to them.

Biodiversity Audit (June 2008)

The Biodiversity Audit is a borough wide audit was carried out by Middlemarch Environmental Ltd. Its purpose is to provide guidance on:

  • the potential distribution of protected species, UK priority habitats and species, and habitats and species identified within the borough
  • the probable function of the key areas of search for wildlife corridors
  • management recommendations for prioritised sites in Cheltenham Borough Council ownership

Cheltenham urban extension visioning event (November 2007)

A visioning event was held on 8 November 2007 to consider the proposals set out in the draft Regional Spatial Strategy for the South West for an urban extension in the area of north west Cheltenham.

The purpose of the event was to raise awareness and ensure that the proposals for the extent of growth that was at the time set out at the regional level was on the agenda of infrastructure and service delivery providers and partners.

Gloucestershire Landscape Character Assessment (January 2006)

The Gloucestershire Landscape Character Assessment comprises a landscape character assessment of the Severn Vale, the Upper Thames Valley area and the land on the northern fringe of the Cotswolds area of outstanding natural beauty within the Vale of Moreton and Vale of Evesham and completes a detailed review of Gloucestershire's landscape character. The purpose of the Gloucestershire Landscape Character Assessment is to observe, analyse, describe and classify these variations and distinctive patterns.

Green Belt Review (March 2007)

The council appointed planning consultants AERC Ltd at the end of October 2006 to carry out a detailed review of the Cheltenham green belt. The purpose of the review was to provide an independent assessment of the Cheltenham Green Belt. This review forms part of the evidence base which will underpin the Joint Core Strategy and Cheltenham Plan.

Green Space Strategy (July 2009)

The primary project objectives of the Green Space Strategy include:

  • review of allotment strategy
  • a quantitative assessment and mapping of green spaces and outdoor recreational and sporting facilities in the borough, in accordance with the guidelines set out in former PPG 17
  • a qualitative assessment of the parks and open spaces using the Green Flag standard as a recognised benchmark of quality for comparison
  • a needs analysis of play space development across the borough
  • a tree strategy

For further information on the Green Space Strategy or to view documents, please visit Parks and Open Spaces.

Leckhampton Landscape & Visual Appraisal (July 2003)

The council appointed Landscape Design Associates in March 2003 to prepare theLeckhampton Landscape & Visual Appraisal. The appraisal will form part of the evidence base for the Joint Core Strategy and Cheltenham Plan.

The appraisal was prepared following a desk-based assessment of existing environmental information and a period of field-based landscape and visual survey. Specifically it comprised:

  • a desk-based review to identify the extent, location and significance of any environmental planning constraints affecting the land and the surrounding area
  • a landscape survey to record the existing land use, the character and condition of the landscape, the presence of any notable landscape features and relationship of the land to the wider urban and rural environment
  • visual survey to assess the overall visual prominence of the land from local public vantage points, adjacent residential development, and land within the Cotswolds AONB which lies immediately to the south of the study area.

Strategic Flood Risk Assessment - Level 1 (September 2008)

Gloucestershire County Council and the six district councils have worked together to produce a Strategic Flood Risk Assessment (SFRA) covering the whole of Gloucestershire. The SFRA identifies levels of flood risk from all sources of flooding in the county. The assessment will be used to inform the emerging Joint Core Strategy and as a material consideration in the determination of planning applications.

The various elements of the SFRA can be downloaded using the links below. Please note that information relating to the other district authorities in Gloucestershire can be found on their respective websites.

Please note: the maps included within the SFRA are very detailed and therefore very large files which may take some time to download.

Strategic Flood Risk Assessment - Level 2 (October 2011)

A Level 2 Strategic Flood Risk Assessment was commissioned by the Joint Core Strategy authorities in April 2010 and published in October 2011. This provides a more detailed assessment of areas which have been identified as potential development locations and it uses the information from SFRA Level 1 to determine which areas require a further assessment of flood risk.

The various elements of the SFRA can be downloaded using the links below. Please note that some of the PDF documents are large and may take some time to download.

Urban Extensions Boundary Definition Study (August 2010)

Gloucester, Cheltenham and Tewkesbury councils have renewed their commitment to working together on the Joint Core Strategy (JCS) following the coalition government's recent abolition of the South West Regional Spatial Strategy (SWRSS).

The Urban Extensions Boundary Definition Study (UEBDS), published 9 August 2010, will help deal with planning applications received in the areas identified as urban extensions in the Regional Spatial Strategy.