Cheltenham Plan Pre-Submission consultation

Pre-Submission Cheltenham Plan

7 Landscape

CONTEXT

7.1 Cheltenham owes much to its setting at the foot of the Cotswold escarpment. The town’s eastern fringes include the high-quality scenery of the escarpment, with landscape and woodlands that are designated as part of the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). Beyond the western edge of the town lies the flatter open countryside of the Severn Vale, where the designation of a Green Belt has helped to maintain a clear differentiation between Cheltenham and the neighbouring settlements of Gloucester (to the south) and Bishop’s Cleeve (to the north).

7.2 Cheltenham’s other major asset is its architectural heritage. The fine buildings and broad, tree-lined streets create graceful surroundings that appeal to residents, employers, shoppers and tourists alike. This impressive architectural legacy is often protected – the Cheltenham (Central) Conservation Area covers some 600 hectares, and the town continues to remain attractive to investors and developers. Consequently, the pressure for change, be it large-scale new build or small incremental alteration, needs to be carefully managed to protect buildings, trees, and the essential character of what is often valued most.

POLICY L1: LANDSCAPE AND SETTING


Development will only be permitted where it would not harm the setting of Cheltenham including views into or out of areas of acknowledged importance.

This policy contributes towards achieving the Cheltenham Plan Vision: Theme A - objective a; Theme C – objectives a, b and f.

LANDSCAPE AND SETTING

7.3 For the purposes of this policy, the ‘setting’ of Cheltenham is considered to embody those features which create the distinctive sense of place for the Borough, including the Cotswold escarpment, the distinguished architectural heritage and the myriad green spaces.

7.4 Cheltenham’s attractive setting is undoubtedly one of its prime assets and is recognised by the emerging Place Strategy for the Borough as a key factor in helping to achieve sustainable economic growth and securing social wellbeing. The Council will therefore seek to continue the protection of the town’s setting and encourage its future enhancement through sensitively designed / located development.

7.5 In doing so, the Council is mindful of the need to protect views into and out of areas of acknowledged importance such as conservation areas, ancient monuments, sites included on the Register of Historic Parks and Gardens, the AONB, the Green Belt, Sites of Special Scientific Interest, statutory and non-statutory nature reserves, Regionally Important Geological and Geo-morphological Sites, listed buildings and buildings of local importance.

7.6 The above policy is designed not only to complement the policy stance of the Joint Cores Strategy (JCS) but also to add further dimension through the recognition of local distinctiveness and the particular environmental qualities that make Cheltenham special.

POLICY L2: CONVERSION OF RURAL BUILDINGS


The conversion of rural buildings to uses other than agriculture will be permitted where:

a) the building is structurally sound, suitable for and capable of conversion to the proposed use without substantial alteration, extension or rebuilding;

b) the conversion and alternative use do not harm the character of the building and are appropriate to the character and setting concerned;

c) the proposal would not cause conflict with existing or planned uses on or in close proximity to the site, including severance or disruption to the agricultural holding that would prejudice its continued viable operation;

d) the proposal accords with other relevant policies embodied within this Plan.

This policy contributes towards achieving the Cheltenham Plan Vision: Theme B - objectives a and b.

CONVERSION OF RURAL BUILDINGS

7.7 In considering development in the countryside, the JCS is clear in its intention to support appropriate types of development. This approach is mirrored by the Cheltenham Plan which recognises the potential of many rural buildings to accommodate new uses when the previous use has rendered them surplus to requirements or no longer suitable for their original intention.

7.8 As most rural buildings in Cheltenham Borough are within the Green Belt or AONB, their re-use and conversion requires special consideration. In determining planning applications, the Council will therefore take into account the effect of the conversion on the natural beauty and landscape character of the adjoining countryside, the architectural and historic features of the building, any effect on the openness of the Green Belt (if relevant), and the need to give appropriate rural buildings a new lease of life.

7.9 The above policy applies to the conversion of all rural buildings whether of modern or traditional construction. Buildings should be physically capable of being converted in terms of their size, soundness and structural stability without recourse to extensive rebuilding, alteration or extension. Where an extension or significant alteration is proposed, it must be demonstrated that the building is capable of conversion on its own merit and such extension or alteration should not harm the character of the building, its setting and or the character and appearance of the landscape.

7.10 Proposals involving conversion to residential use will also need to be compliant with JCS Policy SD10 which seeks to prevent isolated rural development. They will also need to comply with general principles of promoting sustainable patterns of development including access to infrastructure and sustainable transport.