What’s the issue?
You may be aware that in 2016 a planning application by Gladman Developments for up to 80 residential dwellings on land South of Poplar Lane, Wickwar, was granted outline planning permission, despite strong local opposition.
You may not be aware, however, that Gladman have now put in another planning application for the field immediately next to the one already granted outline permission for, this time for up to 90 further residential dwellings. This will effectively more than double the size of the development at this site.
Who are Gladman Developments, and why are they involved?
Gladman Developments are land agents, operating in the murky world of “strategic land” promotion; firms like these prepare sites for development by doing the time-consuming work of gaining planning permission for agricultural land. It is then sold on to housebuilders.
These companies don’t ever build homes, but work within the labyrinthine planning system, taking advantage of its weaknesses and loopholes. It’s a modern-day gold rush: the farming press is filled with adverts for companies offering to prepare agricultural land for building; Gladman Developments offers its services on a “no win, no fee” basis to lure landowners interested in selling up, claiming a success rate of 90pc. The reason for this is the amount of sheer profit that can be made by obtaining planning permission on a strategic site of land.
We feel that this new application by Gladman is a ruthless and rather cynical bid to make the maximum profit from this site, with no real attempt by them to address all the issues that developing on such a scale here would bring to the village of Wickwar.
We are also concerned that should this application be granted permission too, it would open the floodgates for more and more housing developments on agricultural land around our village, until Wickwar’s identity as an ancient rural village is eroded away completely. This is a clear and present danger – the map attached to this letter shows areas of land around our village which South Gloucestershire Council is aware the owners are interested in selling for development, updated to include the site which was granted outline planning permission last year and this new application site next to it.
Why should this site be refused planning permission?
- Wickwar is already having to have up to 80 new houses – for a village of this size that is a large percentage of additional homes. So we have taken our share of new housing.
- It is simply not needed here – there is a strategic housing plan in place by South Gloucestershire Council to provide plenty of new homes in the immediate area, as existing and planned new developments in Yate, Chipping Sodbury, Thornbury, Charfield, Buckover, Filton, etc., etc all show..
- The road infrastructure around Wickwar is poor, and is struggling to cope even now. This development would access onto Sodbury Road, the only major road in the area and the only road through Wickwar village. We are already seeing a steep rise in traffic from new housing in the area and the narrow High Street, with its one-way light controlled section, regularly gridlocks at certain times of the working day. This road is also notoriously dangerous, with drivers speeding, overtaking farm vehicles, etc. There is no plan to improve the road infrastructure.
- There is a very poor bus service in place to link Wickwar with neighbouring settlements, which can only mean in reality more issues from increased traffic and pollution.
- Our village cannot offer the facilities that such a development would require – we have very few shops/amenities, only one school and no health facilities..
- This development would not bring any economic advantages to our village; the development is outside the village boundary and cannot be linked to the High Street by footpath/cycle path. As parking in the High Street is difficult, and there’s little to go there for anyway, any new residents here would simply drive to the larger settlements of Yate, Chipping Sodbury, Thornbury, for shopping, etc.
- Finally, we are concerned that the ancient rural setting and character of the village of Wickwar will be eroded away – for ever – with each development that gets planning permission. We need to look at the bigger picture here, and put a stop to this application.
Do we really have a chance of getting this application refused?
YES, we do! As we’ve mentioned, Gladman are in the business of getting planning permission granted, and they openly admit to targeting local authorities “whose planning is in relative disarray and either have no up-to-date local plan or, temporarily, they do not have a five-year supply of consented building plots.” This was undoubtedly a major factor in getting the planning permission for the adjacent site granted in 2016, but the situation has changed now. South Gloucestershire DO have a five year supply of consented building plots now and are in a much stronger position to turn this additional application down, based on the number of Objections received.
I’m concerned about this too! What can I do?
So, we need to get your Objections in to South Gloucestershire Planning Department, against Planning Application PK17/4552/O. You can do this on line by going onto www.southglos.gov.uk/environment-and-planning/planning/ click on Search Planning Applications, enter PK17/4552/O and then add your comment on the page that comes up.
You can also write to the Planning Department at :
South Gloucestershire Council
Department for Environment and Community Services PO Box 1954
Time is running out for this though, so if like us you don’t want to see Wickwar spoilt forever by opportunistic development, please get your Objection comments in before the end of November.