Reconsider the proposed new settlement of over 5,000 houses between Berkeley and Sharpness

Reconsider the proposed new settlement of over 5,000 houses between Berkeley and Sharpness

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Amanda Howard started this petition to Stroud District Council and

Stroud District Council propose to build a huge settlement of 5,000+ new houses over green fields abutting the banks of the Severn estuary between the rural town of Berkeley and the surrounding villages of Sharpness, Hinton, Brookend and Wanswell. This development would be devastating, causing irreparable damage to both the beautiful countryside and to the internationally protected Severn Estuary wildlife and habitats. It is sudden and unwanted urbanisation on a huge scale and would completely obliterate this important and beautiful rural area.

We, the undersigned wholeheartedly support the objections put forward by the Berkeley and Sharpness Action Group (BaSRAG) to the Independent Planning Inspectorate and wish for alternative approaches to be considered. These include the dispersal of huge new housing quotas to be across the whole district instead of in one area or if a new settlement must be built then consideration of more appropriate sites which have better infrastructure and access and have none of the issues that exist here. Ultimately we call for the debate to be reopened on this devastating Local Plan and the decision to approve it to be revisited. 

Issues and Objections to the Local Plan include:

- LACK OF PROPER PROCESS, questions exist around how robust the decision making by the council has been (the Local Plan was approved just days before a local election; sporadic and piecemeal presentation of evidence and reports, some added after the final consultation opened, many look to be justifying the site of development after the land had been proposed, not the other way around; wording and impenetrable documents that bamboozle the layperson; extreme lack of public engagement with only 2 public consultation events held over 3 years; difficult and exclusionary way which local people must respond to the final consultation either through an online form or word document download only, no letters or emails will be accepted).

- A NEW PASSENGER RAILWAY LINE drawn into the Local Plan has no likelihood of materialising (an application to fund even an initial feasibility study hasn’t even been granted let alone the tens of millions needed to reinstate the northbound only railway into a huge new development)

- LOCAL INFRASTRUCTURE UPGRADES ARE NOT GUARANTEED, the planning department admit that any proposals within the Local Plan to upgrade infrastructure will not necessarily be delivered by the developers, added to this there is no close motorway junction, limited local bus routes and narrow potholed roads, all of which must service an influx of tens of thousands of new residents and their vehicles

- PRESSURE ON THE A38 which acts as an alternative relief road for the M5, will be chocked at junctions and all along the single carriageway road. Being the motorway used to access the south west of England it is often at a standstill. Cars leaving the motorway to avoid lengthy delays will inevitably use the A38 causing issues for residents but also for emergency services which will be continually hindered by congestion

- REROUTING A NATIONAL WALKING TRAIL, The Severn Way, away from the river and into the housing estate to reduce the damaging impact of tens of thousands more people visiting the area and building barriers to stop people enjoying the river is simply not justified 

- LACK OF SERVICES AND FACILITIES included in the Local Plan mean an already poorly catered for community will suffer even further, with the closest secondary schools nearly 6 miles away and full to bursting, the plan would not be to build a new school in the area until over 2,400 houses were built. The approval to turn a current school site in Wanswell into yet more houses exacerbates the problem even further  

- DAMAGE CAUSED TO WILDLIFE AND HABITATS at a Site of Special Scientific Interest and Ramsar site of the Severn Estuary, including breeding, feeding, wintering and migration of rare and vulnerable species of birds. The intertidal mudflats and sandflats, saltmarsh, shingle and rocky shore habitats bordering the Estuary are also protected and inevitably damage to these special areas will be caused by such an enormous development 

- FLOODING ISSUES are already a huge problem in this area when it rains, let alone the much bigger rains and storm surges caused by the spiralling climate emergency in the future, the proposed site of development is not only likely to be frequently flooded by 2050 but also exacerbates the flooding issue by removing natural flood defences and causing water run off to surroundings areas 

- COMMITMENT TO ACHIEVE CARBON NEUTRALITY BY 2030 must be discussed within the Local Plan and how such a housing development would detrimentally impact on this commitment should be outlined. Going ahead with this Local Plan flies in the face of the changing way we must all learn to live during this climate crisis

- DEVASTATION of small rural communities through sudden, huge scale and unwanted urbanisation, ripping the heart and soul out of an area considered to be just a rural hinterland and unimportant backwater of the Stroud district is simply unethical 

Ultimately we call for a reconsideration of the approval of Stroud District Council’s Local Plan.

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