Homes approved despite accessibility concerns

Developer's plans of the site in Cheltenham
Some councillors believed the site was too steep for whelchairs [Vistry Homes/CBC]

Controversial plans to build 250 homes on a Cheltenham beauty spot have been given the go-ahead amid concerns parts of the site are too steep for wheelchair users.

Vistry Homes Limited And Stonewater Limited is allowed to develop the land at Oakley Farm.

Outline permission was granted on appeal in 2022 for the development that includes a new road access from Harp Hill.

But now Cheltenham Borough Council has approved the access, appearance, landscape, layout and scale of the new housing estate too.

In total 57 people objected to the proposals for the 36.2 acre-site, which were considered by the planning committee on 30 May, the Local Democracy Reporting Service said.

Tony Clements, speaking on behalf of the applicant, said the developers had responded positively and constructively to comments from the planning officers.

Battledown ward councillors Chris Day and Helen Pemberton both spoke against the proposals, but their comments appeared to fall on deaf ears.

“What is at stake is not whether any development happens, but that what is built provides good quality housing that is accessible to all and does not conflict with the council’s environmental targets,” he said.

“The proposed plans fail this test.”

He raised concerns over the steep gradients and how the development would discriminate against wheelchair users.

During the debate, Cllr Paul Baker said he supported the proposals and said it helped to address climate change as there would be air source heaters, solar panels and no gas boilers on the site.

He also said the extra 100 affordable homes were “desperately needed”. “It’s a really excellent scheme,” he added.

“This is a great scheme and I’m really keen to support it.”

Chairman Garth Barnes said it was a good scheme that would help to deliver much needed housing.

“No development is without its issues,” he said.

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