Cheltenham Plan Pre-Submission consultation

Pre-Submission Cheltenham Plan

6 Green Belt


6.1 The concept of a Green Belt as means of checking the unrestricted sprawl of built-up areas and protecting the countryside dates from 1955. In Gloucestershire, a Green Belt between the two principal towns of Gloucester and Cheltenham was first put forward in 1957 and later formally approved as part of the County Development Plan Quinquennial Review in 1968. An extension to the Green Belt to the north of Cheltenham, to separate it from Bishop’s Cleeve, was proposed in the Gloucestershire Structure Plan in 1981.

6.2 Whilst the strategic nature of the Green Belt means that related issues primarily fall to be considered against national planning policy and the higher order Joint Core Strategy (JCS), the Cheltenham Plan has an important role to play in implementing Green Belt policy and ensuring the Green Belt continues to serve its key functions which have actually changed little over the last 60 years.

6.3 Protecting the Green Belt from harmful development is crucial as part of a coordinated and balanced approach to securing economic prosperity and good standards of health and well-being for the Borough in future. Within Green Belt boundaries, development will be restricted to those limited types of development which are deemed appropriate by the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) and the JCS unless very special circumstances can be demonstrated. The following policies reflect the need for tight control.


Development within the Green Belt will be restricted to those types of development which are deemed appropriate by the NPPF and Gloucester, Cheltenham and Tewkesbury Joint Core Strategy.

Limited residential infilling (Note 1) of built frontages along The Reddings, Shaw Green Lane and Bowbridge Lane will be permitted only where there is no resulting harm to the openness of the Green Belt (Note 2).

This policy contributes towards achieving Cheltenham Plan Vision: Theme A – objective b; Theme C – objective b.

Note 1: In this context, “infilling” means the construction of a new building or buildings between two existing buildings.

Note 2: This precludes the demolition and replacement of existing housing. Such proposals would fall to be assessed against Policy GB2 (rebuilding or replacement of dwellings in the Green Belt).


6.4 Residential development already stretches into the Green Belt along certain roads in the Borough. The Reddings, Shaw Green Lane and Bowbridge Lane are particularly affected. Infilling at these locations will be permitted subject to careful assessment and providing it does not compromise from the character or functionality of the Green Belt.

6.5 The above policy provides a locally distinctive response to the appropriate exceptions set out in national policy. It also provides consistency with JCS Policy SD5 and reflects the stance of the previously adopted Cheltenham Borough Local Plan in facilitating sustainable development patterns across the Borough.


The rebuilding or replacement of existing dwellings in the Green Belt will only be permitted where:

a) the new building will continue to be used as a dwelling;

b) the new building is not materially larger than the one it replaces;

c) more than one existing dwelling is to be replaced, the number of replacement dwellings is no greater than the number to be demolished;

d) there is no harm to the openness and visual amenity of the Green Belt.

This policy contributes towards achieving Cheltenham Plan Vision: Theme A – objective b; Theme C – objective b.


6.7 Buildings in the countryside are not only functional in the activity for which they have been designed; many make a significant contribution to the character of the landscape. Without adequate controls, the character of the Green Belt could change to its detriment in that traditional Green Belt dwellings with modest proportions would be replaced by large modern houses.

6.8 National planning policy makes clear that the construction of new buildings in the Green Belt is inappropriate, but that an exception is the replacement of a building provided that the new building is in the same use and not materially larger than the one it replaces.

6.9 Policy GB2 is designed to mirror this stance and to allow replacement dwellings in the Green Belt provided that the relevant criteria can be satisfied. What constitutes harm to the Green Belt is a key determinant in this instance and each case is likely to vary according to exact location and individual circumstances. Overall, the openness and visual amenities of the Green Belt should not be further eroded by development and its functionality not undermined by encroachment.

6.10 To be considered an existing dwelling, the building should have been lived in as a permanent residential unit within the last five years and should not have been used for any other purpose in the meantime. The existing building should be recognisable as a dwelling; it should not be in a dilapidated, derelict and abandoned condition.

6.11 The replacement dwelling must be in scale, character and of similar size and materials to the existing where these are appropriate to the character and appearance of the area and the site in question. There may however be some cases where the Council considers that the existing dwelling is poorly designed and/or out of character with the rural setting. In these circumstances it would be appropriate to take the opportunity to improve the appearance of the site and locality through improved design, materials and orientation of the replacement dwelling in accord with the design policies embodied in this Plan.

6.12 The change of use of dwellings in the Green Belt to other uses will be subject to Policy L2: Conversion of Rural Buildings.