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Civic Society slams government planning white paper

Cheltenham Civic Society, in its response to the government’s consultation on its planning white paper ‘Planning for the Future’, has strongly criticised the proposed zonal system for planning.
The proposed new system proposes the biggest reform in planning in the last 70 years. If adopted it would introduce a three-zone system allocating all land and properties into “growth”, “renewal” or “protection” areas. Except in protected areas, this would remove much of the development control process with which people are familiar.
In its 32-page response – click on image to download – submitted to the government this week, the Civic Society says that the proposals are “fundamentally mistaken for three overriding reasons”:
1. The absence of supporting evidence for such a far-reaching set of proposals. Tearing down the present system which, for all its faults, is well established and well understood, cannot be justified by the thin arguments offered in the White Paper. Nor are the alleged benefits convincing.
2. The focus on housing almost to the exclusion of everything else. Of course there is a national housing crisis, but planning is about more than housing (and housing is about more than planning). The White Paper’s superficial treatment of sustainability and public health issues facing the nation – and which planning can help resolve – is deeply disappointing.
3. The threat the white paper poses to local democracy. Its proposals would deny people the chance to comment on the details of schemes, reduce rather than increase citizens’ rights in the planning process, and weaken the hand of local authorities trying to deal with pressures from developers. Whatever the rhetoric in the White Paper, people will be the losers.
Chair of Cheltenham Civic Society, Andrew Booton, said: “This White Paper is driven by the housing crisis but we must recognise that planning is more than housing and crude zoning will never be able to account for the complexities of planning in towns like Cheltenham, or help to deliver the quality of housing and other developments that are needed.  
“We want to see more democracy in the planning process, but these proposals restrict public consultation to the initial local planning policy stages, which – being quite abstract processes – very few people tend to engage with. But many people engage in response to schemes put forward by developers and those opportunities will disappear if these proposals are adopted.”

Nominate Cheltenham's best buildings for a Civic Award

Parabola Arts Centre, award winner 2009

The biennial Civic Awards for Cheltenham’s best new and refurbished buildings will take place next spring and Cheltenham Civic Society is now seeking nominations for recent building projects that are worthy of consideration.
The Society runs the Civic Awards every two years in partnership with Cheltenham Borough Council and the aim is to celebrate the best in design, craftsmanship and placemaking in the town.
To qualify, the building project must have been completed between 1 January 2019 and 31 December 2020 and be situated within the Borough of Cheltenham.
There are awards for new buildings, restorations and refurbishments, environmental schemes and shopfronts.
Anyone can nominate a building or project that they think merits recognition for its design or the quality of its build.
Cheltenham Civic Society Chair, Andrew Booton, said: “We particularly welcome nominations from members of the public – who often have a very good eye for design.
“Judges will consider factors such as context, originality and quality of design, the choice of materials, the workmanship and the standard of restoration. It doesn’t need to be a grand building. We’re just looking for high-quality design and execution.”

The closing date for receipt of nominations is 31 December 2020.
Nomination forms can be downloaded here and then emailed with high quality photos to: 

Judging will take place in the new year and the awards will be made in April 2021.
Previous winners have included The Studios in Royal Well Place, the YMCA in Vittoria Walk and the Parabola Arts Centre.

FireStation.jpg  TheWilson.jpg
Fire Station, award winner 2012  The Wilson, award winner 2014

Upcoming Events

Watch this space for upcoming events in 2021

All Cheltenham Civic Society events in 2020 were cancelled or postponed

The Digital Events held during Heritage Open Days 2020 may still be viewed 

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Planning Forum


Planning applications considered at the online Planning Forum meeting on 22 December 2020 included:-

Charlton Kings Business Park: Construction of new retail store 

Hill Covert, Harp Hill: Large new house to replace existing

14 Promenade: Change of use of upper floors to residential apartments