My thoughts are taken up with the Joint Core Strategy between Tewkesbury Borough Council, Cheltenham Borough Council and Gloucester City to find sites to build 33,200 new homes in the area covered by the three organisations. There are negative feelings towards the plans. Being an accountant, I question how the figure was arrived at and what would be the source of the 21,800 new jobs that are projected. Have the factors of increasing single living and of ageing population, kept healthier by modern medicine techniques also been taken into account? Other points spring to mind – what efforts are being made to transform the lower High Street in Cheltenham into an affordable housing area? There must be areas of Gloucester that can be dealt with in a similar fashion.
I am minded to look on the positive side of the proposals. For example, there is one piece of land to the North West of Cheltenham that has been earmarked for a development of over 4,000 homes. The land is neither suitable for economic farming, nor is it in a scenic part of the general Cotswol d landscape. What better place to build a Christian community with a Church of England primary school with a secondary school, accepted into our own Diocese of Gloucester Academy Trust to preserve our Christian ethos. Furthermore, build a community centre, annexed and allied to the church, with playgroups, youth centres, supermarket, small specialist shops, doctors and dentists surgeries, not forgetting a Day Care centre for those of us requiring additional care as we grow older.
As for the villages that are destined to have hundreds of extra homes built, think of a regeneration process. The communities of some of the villages and small towns are dying as they steadily become commuter bases. With careful and thoughtful planning, new communities can be encouraged to grow and thrive as the local schools expand, the congregation numbers swell, the village shop has more visitors and local sports facilities are built and used.
What appears to be a negative can be turned into a positive.
Mary Adlard, Chair, Diocesan Board of Finance