Sandhurst Lane – speeding motorists are a menace

Isabel Brazil & Jeremy Hilton on Sandhurst Lane near to the traffic survey point

Speeding motorists travelling on along Sandhurst Lane in Kingsholm and Wotton are a menace say local Lib Dem councillors, Jeremy Hilton and Isabel Brazil.

A survey carried out between the 16th and 22nd July by Gloucestershire County Council found that 80% of southbound motorists were speeding as they approached St. Oswald’s Road. 

The survey was requested by county councillor Jeremy Hilton. It was taken at the midway point between Rivermead Close and Greville Close along the built-up section of Sandhurst Lane.

Cllr. Jeremy Hilton said: “The results confirm what many of us already knew that far too many motorists are speeding along Sandhurst Lane. They are breaking the 30mph speed limit and risking the lives of pedestrians walking on the narrow footways. 

“There is a clear road safety issue here that the county council must resolve. I have asked the county traffic manager to propose a solution that will help reduce traffic speeds to below the 30mph limit.

“Even though the results suggest northbound vehicles are not breaking the limit have seen motorists accelerate aggressively as they pass by Rivermead Close.”

Cllr. Isabel Brazil agreed and said: “Speeding vehicles are a menace, particularly on a lane with narrow or non-existent footways. The county council must do something.”

Over the seven days of the survey the volume of traffic averaged out at 2,047 vehicles per day.

Southbound survey results

The survey found that 80% of southbound drivers were travelling at a speed greater than the 30mph limit. The average speed was 39mph with 85% of vehicles travelling at speeds of 47mph or less.

Northbound survey results

Only 2.5% of northbound vehicles were travelling above the 30mph speed limit. The northbound, traffic kept within the speed limits with an average speed of 21mph and with 85% of vehicles travelling at speeds of 25mph or less.

Jeremy Hilton renews call for new comprehensive school in the north of Gloucester

Closed by the Tories. Jeremy Hilton outside former Bishop’s College. A lost opportunity to build new comprehensive school here.

Jeremy Hilton has reiterated calls for a new secondary school to be built in the north of the city.

It comes after forecasts prepared by the Department for Education reveal a shortfall of 477 secondary school places in Gloucester by 2023/24.

Across the country 130,000 children are at risk of missing out on a secondary school place over the next five years, according to the Local Government Association.

Rising birth rates and the thousands of new homes built at Kingsway and Cooper’s Edge has seen increasing pressure for primary school places in Gloucester.

But with thousands of new homes planned on the outskirts of Gloucester – at Innsworth, Churchdown and Brockworth as part of the Joint Core Strategy – there will be further demand on school places.

Gloucester Liberal Democrats have long argued there was a need for a new non-selective secondary school in the north of the city as children not attending either Sir Thomas Rich’s or Denmark Road High School for Girls, having to travel to Churchdown, Brockworth, Tewkesbury, Newent, the south of Gloucester or further afield.

Jeremy Hilton said the school should have been built on the former Bishop’s College site in Longlevens but housing is now being built there instead.

When Jeremy and Gloucester Lib Dems first called for a new comprehensive secondary school in the north of Gloucester the then Conservative county council cabinet member for children and young people dismissed it as a “pre-election stunt”.

But the need for a new secondary school in Gloucester has now been supported by a report prepared by the county council.

The Gloucester City School Places Review said the need for extra primary school places would be met by expanding existing schools and agreements with housing developers to build additional schools.

But with secondary schools the review states that there is a “significant shortfall of places from 2022” and a new site for a secondary school in Gloucester should be found.

The report also says that existing secondary schools should be expanded where possible.

Councillor Jeremy Hilton, said:

“When we first questioned which secondary schools the children living in all the new family homes being built on the outskirts of Gloucester would go to, the Tories just dismissed our concern.

“With so many houses planned because of the Joint Core Strategy it was obvious there was going to be further pressure on primary and secondary school places in Gloucester.

“The Department for Education’s own forecasts support this, and the county council has now realised what we have been saying all along about the need for a new comprehensive secondary school.

”It is vital that this school is non-selective. A genuine, high performing comprehensive school. There is no need for any further grammar school places. The grammars are already taking far too many pupils that live outside the city and even outside Gloucestershire. The new comprehensive school must be built to serve those that live in the north of Gloucester.”

Ends…

Jeremy Hilton’s letter to Planning Inspectorate – Redrow appeal

Redrow Homes has appealed to the Secretary of State about Gloucester City Council’s non-determination of their planning application to build 89 dwellings on the former Civil Service Sports Ground off Estcourt Road. Application reference 16/00968/FUL.

This controversial application raised many objections from local residents when it was originally deposited with the council in 2016.

The deadline for comments to the Planning Inspectorate from the public was the 9th of August this year. Jeremy Hilton’s letter is below.

Gloucester City Council has still to respond. Within a few weeks the council will take its response to the planning committee for approval, before it is sent to the Planning Inspectorate.

 

 

Jeremy Hilton fighting to save the Civil Service Sports Ground

Jeremy Hilton’s Letter to Planning Inspectorate

I write to ask you to dismiss the appeal by Redrow Homes related to the planning application for 89 houses on the former Civil Service Sports Club ground (Ref:16/00968/FUL).

I am the local county and city councillor for Kingsholm & Wotton.

On the 19th of April 2017, I did write to the case officer at Gloucester City Council pointing out that the application was then seven months old and that it should be determined with a recommendation to refuse.

The council said they were giving more time to Redrow to resolve the issue about the loss of sports pitches. Redrow had not in April 2017 nor since provided evidence on how they would mitigate for the loss of the playing fields.

There is a shortage of rugby and football pitches in Gloucester. Spartans Ruby Club, which is based in Kingsholm, is looking for an additional pitch near to its club house, which is in neighbouring Sherborne Street.

The High School for Girls, which is in Denmark Road has also spoken to me about possible use of the sports field if it is saved from development.

All Redrow have done since acquiring the site in 2011 (for just £10,000) is shut the gates and demolish the club house etc, making the facilities unavailable for active sport that it had previously been used for.

Similarly, since acquiring the site Redrow have failed to properly discuss the future of the playing fields with the local community that is required in the Joint Core Strategy policy INF4. The lack of community engagement is lamentable.

Redrow’s idea of consultation has been to lodge two full planning applications with the council, leaving no opportunity for the council or the community to hold discussions about how the site could be developed for some housing, but leaving the rest of the site available for sport and recreation.

As Keith Annis a senior manager at Redrow once told me they were playing for time. The question must be asked why has it taken them nearly two years from depositing the planning application to lodge an appeal?

For Redrow to appeal against non-determination is rather hypocritical, particularly to do this only a few weeks after lodging a new planning application for 100 dwellings on the same site (Ref 18/00306/FUL)

Further Comments

A.    Affordable housing:

The plan for affordable homes did not meet the council’s then standard, when the application was submitted, which was 40 %. The application lists 18 dwellings as intermediate housing, this is equates to 20% of the build.

It was impossible for the council to approve an application that did not meet this standard. Subsequently, the Joint Core Strategy has been adopted, where the new limit is set at 20%.

B. Land Purchase:

The applicants purchased the sports ground from the Civil Service Sports Council Ltd for just £10,000 in 2011 (GR355501). The applicants should publicly declare the details of the uplift clause they have with Civil Service Sports Council Ltd.

I believe it is this legal agreement that is responsible for the maximisation of housing on the site rather than what one would expect an open discussion with the council and community on a development brief that would benefit all.

Some degree of housing whilst retaining the main sports field for sport and recreation, would benefit everyone.

C.    Alternative sport provision:

It may be that the land has not been used for sport for more than five years, but that is because of a deliberate policy by the landowners to close the ground for sporting activities.

I concur with Sport England that the application should be refused.

The applicants have failed to identify alternative facilities that could accommodate sporting activities that previously took place on the Civil Service Sports ground.

In my opinion, alternative provision must be within the Kingsholm & Wotton ward.

D. Joint Core Strategy INF3

The proposed development of 89 dwellings in my opinion is not consistent with JCS policy on green infrastructure. The former Civil Service Sport Ground provides a worthy green infrastructure asset that should be protected to help resolve the shortage of open space in Kingsholm and Wotton.

I believe it is not beyond the wit of all parties to come up with a development solution that would provide much needed housing whilst retaining a large open space that could continue to be used for sport and recreation.

Here is Policy INF3

1. The green infrastructure network of local and strategic importance will be conserved and enhanced, in order to deliver a series of multifunctional, linked green corridors across the JCS area by:
i. Improving the quantity and/or quality of assets;
ii. Improving linkages between assets in a manner appropriate to the scale of development, and
iii. Designing improvements in a way that supports the cohesive management of green
infrastructure;
2. Development proposals should consider and contribute positively towards green infrastructure, including the wider landscape context and strategic corridors between major assets and populations. Where new residential development will create, or add to, a need for publicly accessible green space or outdoor space for sports and recreational on, this will be fully met in accordance with Policy INF4. Development at Strategic Alloca ons will be required to deliver connectivity through the site, linking urban areas with the wider rural hinterland
3. Existing green infrastructure will be protected in a manner that reflects its contribution
to ecosystem services (including biodiversity, landscape / townscape quality, the historic environment, public access, recreation and play) and the connectivity of the green infrastructure network. Development proposals that will have an impact on woodlands, hedges and trees will need to include a jus ca on for why this impact cannot be avoided and should incorporate measures acceptable to the Local Planning Authority to mi gate the loss. Mi ga on should be provided on-site or, where this is not possible, in the immediate environs of the site
4. Where assets are created, retained or replaced within a scheme, they should be properly integrated into the design and contribute to local character and distinctiveness. Proposals should also make provisions for future maintenance of green infrastructure.

E. Joint Core Strategy INF4

As I have previously mentioned the lack of serious community engagement by Redrow ahead of this planning application, about the future use of the site, is lamentable.

Redrow have only showed plans that have proposed the complete building on the site, with the loss of the playing fields. They have never properly consulted anyone.

I believe they failed to meet the requirement of Joint Core Strategy policy INF4 for social and community infrastructure

Here is Policy INF4

1. Proposals to develop land or buildings currently or previously in use as a community facility will demonstrate, including evidence of engagement with relevant local community groups and partner organisations, why the facility is no longer required and, as appropriate, how, when and where suitable local replacement facilities will be provided. Provision of replacement facilities will have regard to the locational and other relevant elements of this policy
2. Where new residential development will create, or add to, a need for community facilities, it will be fully met as on-site provision and/or as a contribution to facilities or services o -site. New or refurbished provision will be of an appropriate type, standard and size. From an early stage, developers will be expected to engage with the relevant local authorities and infrastructure providers and, as appropriate, relevant local community groups where they exist, to ensure that new provision meets the needs of the community that it will serve and is t for purpose
3. Social and community infrastructure should be centrally located to the population it serves and
be easily accessible on foot and by bicycle. It should be located so as to have the potential to be well-served by public transport. Developers should aim to provide flexible, multifunctional facilities within mixed-use developments, creating shared space which maximises benefits to the community and minimises land-take. In the case of open space, ‘easily accessible’ means it is located within reasonable walking distance of the development it serves. New facilities should be accessible to all members of the community, and be planned and phased in parallel with new development.

F. Draft City Plan Policy SA06

The provision of 89 dwellings is in my opinion is overdevelopment of the site, which is in the heart of Kingsholm.

Council policy as identified in the draft City Plan, which was approved by council in December 2016, recommends a maximum of twenty dwellings (SA06).

The proposal of 89 dwellings exceeds this policy by 445%, with the complete loss of the playing fields.

A compromise of 40 dwellings, for example, on this site would mean that the former sports field could be brought back into use.

G. Layout of the site:

The layout of the site does not follow the usual street pattern that is evident in Kingsholm. It is adjacent to both the Kingsholm and Denmark Road conservation areas.

I am concerned that the narrow streets on estate may be become clogged up with motorists parking their cars on footpaths. This is a problem that will be exacerbated during times when there are rugby matches being played at the Kingsholm stadium.

The small public open space is set out to give the impression that it is an exclusive space just for the new residents of the estate. New public open space should laid out to be inclusive and available to all Kingsholm residents.

H.    Highway access:

I am not convinced by the design of the access point onto Estcourt Road slip road.

The proposed access onto Denmark Road is unacceptable. It closes the slip road to Lansdown Road and removes much-needed parking spaces on Denmark Road.

The closure of the slip road will create more vehicle conflict at the other junction with Lansdown Road. This will be a particular problem when school coaches use this junction.

The closure of the slip road will also remove the u-turn provision it provides for the houses serviced off the dual carriageway section of Denmark Road on the south side.

I.    Public open space:

Kingsholm & Wotton has a low level of public open space as identified in the city council’s open spaces strategy. The council’s standard is 2.8ha per 1000

Based on the new ward boundaries introduced at the 2016 election the ward has just 0.49ha per 1,000 population. Or 3.59ha for a population based on mid 2016 of 7,259 persons.

An opportunity is being missed in the proposed development to achieve a good increase in public open space provision in the ward by the wholesale development of the site, which was formerly used for sport and recreation.

I would recommend that this appeal is dismissed.

Empty offices leave public services £700,000 short in lost business rates

Isabel Brazil & Jeremy Hilton chat with 69 London Road in background

Gloucester City Council has been unable to collect nearly £700,000 in business rates because two office blocks in Gloucester have been laid empty for years.

The HM Revenue & Customs reduced the rateable value on 67 and 69 London Road to zero meaning the owners, Pall Mall Estates, do not have to pay business rates on either property.

It is understood that HMRC reduced the valuation to zero on the August 29, 2011.

Before the reduction the rateable value of both properties stood at £269,500 and meant that business rates were worth £118,732 per year to Gloucester City Council.

The properties were subject to a debate at the city council in May led by Liberal Democrat councillors Jeremy Hilton and Isabel Brazil, who represent Kingsholm Ward.

Their motion was passed unanimously calling for the buildings to be acquired for residential redevelopment, with a Compulsory Purchase Order being used if a reasonable purchase terms could not be agreed.

Councillor Hilton said: “The owners stripped out the services within the buildings a few years ago. This probably helped them secure a zero rating on their business rates.

“The loss of £700,000 in business rates since 2011 is scandalous. I understand the owners have had offers from potential buyers but turned them down.

“If they had to pay business rates on the office blocks they may have sold them by now.

“Private householders aren’t allowed to hang on to empty properties for year after year and not pay any council tax.

“Why should wealthy corporations get away with not paying their fair share of taxes? The system is corrupt.

Councillor Isabel Brazil said: “The buildings are run down and can no longer be easily let.

“The owners shouldn’t be allowed to sit on a property asset for year after year and not pay tax on them.

“The £700,000 lost in business rates could of been spent on supporting public services.”

Lib Dem councillors want to use compulsory purchase powers to acquire 67/69 London Road

Jeremy Hilton with the run down buildings on London Road in the background

Liberal Democrat councillors for Kingsholm & Wotton, Jeremy Hilton & Isabel Brazil have issued a challenge to the Tory run city council to acquire 67/69 London Road for a housing development.

The two former office buildings on London Road have remained empty for many years and they are deteriorating and becoming eyesores within an important conservation area.

The annual meeting of the city council (21st May) will debate a motion proposed by Jeremy Hilton & seconded by Isabel Brazil calling on the council to acquire the dilapidated buildings for housing.

Cllr Hilton said: “Local residents are fed up with these empty buildings being an eyesore on London Road. Our motion hopefully, will get things moving.”

Cllr. Isabel Brazil agreed: “The buildings are run down and can no longer be easily let. The draft city plan suggests at least 30 residential units could be provided on the site. The council should now buy the properties for a housing project.”

The motion from the Kingsholm & Wotton councillors calls for compulsory purchase powers to be used if reasonable terms cannot be agreed.

Jeremy Hilton concluded: “The owners have failed look after the properties, we cannot allow them to continue to remain empty for year after year.

“The council must now buy them for a new housing project, using some of the £80m it set aside for such developments. If a negotiated purchase fails the council must use compulsory purchase powers to acquire the site.”

Ends….

Text of motion lodged with city council (dated 1st May 2018 11:12 am)

“This council notes that both 67 and 69 London Road, former offices, have been empty for a number of years and that these buildings are continuing to deteriorate.

They have become an eyesore on London Road, which is a conservation area and also one of the main routes into the city centre.

This council also notes that the combined site is listed in the draft city plan as being suitable for residential development.

This council, therefore, asks the leader to use city council resources to acquire 67 and 69 London Road for a residential regeneration project.

This council also agrees that the city council should use compulsory purchase powers to acquire the site if reasonable purchase terms cannot be agreed by negotiation with the current landowner.”

Proposed by Jeremy Hilton

Seconded by Isabel Brazil

Objections expected to flood in over 100 homes plans for Civil Service sports ground

Isabel Brazil and Jeremy Hilton with the former Civil Service sports ground in background

Plans have been submitted to build 100 homes on the grounds of the former Civil Service club in Kingsholm.

Liberal Democrat councillors are opposed to so many properties being built on the Estcourt Road site because it will take away valuable green space for local people.

The application by Redrow Homes to Gloucester City Council is an increase of 11 properties on a previous application of 89 homes, which is yet to be determined by the planning committee.

Councillor Jeremy Hilton, who represents Kingsholm Ward on the city council, said the new application is in contravention of several council polices.

“The area has less public open space than the council says is necessary for the local population,” said Councillor Hilton.

“This application will take away valuable green space in the heart of Kingsholm. We do need more houses, but not so many at this location.

“The council’s draft city plan says the maximum on the site should be 20. This would leave the large field untouched and available for sport and recreation.

“Sport England raised objections to the previous application of 89 houses I imagine they will do the same for 100 dwellings.”

It is expected that the council will receive many objections as it did on the previous application, added Councillor Hilton.

Councillor Isabel Brazil, who also represents Kingsholm Ward, said: “We need to protect the green spaces in Kingsholm. There just isn’t enough locally, especially public open space.

“We are supporting plans for new housing on London Road and off Great Western Road, but the maximum permitted at Civil Service Club must be 20.”

Councillor Hilton added: “Redrow has been unable to find an alternative sports site nearby, so they are proposing as a sop to the council a cash contribution to be spent on sports fields in the south of Gloucester.

“Kingsholm will lose out. This is unfair.”

Both councillors are recommending that local people send in individual letters of objection, which can be also be done online at www.gloucester.gov.uk The planning document reference is 18/00306/FUL

Long running saga of unadopted roads at St Oswald’s Park – continues

Jeremy Hilton at Longhorn Avenue, St Oswald’s Park

The long running saga of the adoption of the roads and footpaths on the residential development at St Oswald’s Park continues.

At the county council meeting in June, local Cllr. Jeremy Hilton (Lib Dem – Kingsholm & Wotton) asked the cabinet member what was causing the delay in the adoptions.

The council said the failure of the developers to enter a section 38 highways adoption agreement when construction took place, was a cause.

The cabinet member Nigel Moor said there were several significant issues that would require resolution before the roads could be adopted.

He said: “Issues needing resolution are the adoption of the intervening private streets, submission of a vesting certificate for the sewers, submission of a stage 3 road safety audit and designers response report, submission of the health & safety file and resolution of on-street parking that is causing an obstruction.

“Until the developer decides to address these issues it would not be in the public interest for the council to adopt roads.”

Jeremy Hilton said: “The housing development is now complete and the roads and footpaths need to be formally adopted by the county council. There are issues with inappropriate parking in places that cannot properly be dealt with until to roads are adopted.

“I have written to Persimmon to seek their comments on the cabinet member’s response. They have asked that I call a meeting with key stakeholders. I have written to Persimmon, Hammerson and the county council to invite them to a meeting to get this process moving forward.”

 

Lib Dems celebrate 200th edition of Kingsholm Spotlight newsletter

Cllrs Howard Hyman, Jeremy Hilton and Isabel Brazil distributing the 200th edition of Spotlight.

Cllrs Howard Hyman, Jeremy Hilton and Isabel Brazil distributing the 200th edition of Spotlight.

A community newsletter that has become an institution in Kingsholm and Wotton is celebrating its 200th edition. Spotlight was founded by Councillor Jeremy Hilton in 1980 when he first stood for council.

The newsletter is funded by the local Lib Dem councillors who represent the area and is distributed by a team of volunteers several times a year. There was a lapse in production in the late 1990s but the newsletter was relaunched in 2001 when Jeremy returned to active politics.

Councillor Hilton said: “We are very proud of our Spotlight newsletter. We use it to keep people informed about what’s going on in the area. It is very popular with local residents.

“We originally produced Spotlight using a typewriter and Letraset. Now we use a computer with digital photos.

“Spotlight could not be delivered without our volunteers who help distribute it throughout Kingsholm and Wotton. We thank them for their help.”

Councillor Isabel Brazil, Councillor Hilton’s colleague in Kingsholm and Wotton, added: “We are currently delivering our 200th edition, but we do have some gaps in the delivery network.

“We would welcome new deliverers to join our team of volunteers.”

Isabel Brazil & Jeremy Hilton to contest Kingsholm & Wotton for the Lib Dems

Isabel Brazil, Sebastian Field and Jeremy Hilton campaigning in Kingsholm & Wotton

Isabel Brazil, Sebastian Field and Jeremy Hilton campaigning in Kingsholm & Wotton

Isabel Brazil & Jeremy Hilton will contest the Kingsholm and Wotton ward for the Liberal Democrats at the city council elections on May 5th.

There will be all out elections for the city council on new ward boundaries with the number of councillors going up from 36 to 39. Kingsholm and Wotton ward, regarded as a Lib Dem stronghold, will elect two city councillors.

Isabel Brazil will join Jeremy Hilton in standing for the city council as Sebastian Field steps down to concentrate on his singing career.

Sebastian said: “I have loved my time on the city council and this was not a decision I took lightly. Kingsholm and Wotton is a great place to live and work and I will miss being one of the councillors for the area.

Isabel Brazil lives in Edwy Parade and knows the local area very well. Her late father Peter Brazil was a Lib Dem councillor on Tewksbury Borough Council.

She said: “I am delighted to have the chance to serve Kingsholm and Wotton. I will work hard for the area and I will always put Kingsholm and Wotton first.”

Jeremy Hilton said: “Isabel Brazil will make an excellent councillor. I am pleased to have her as my running mate. Kingsholm and Wotton is a wonderful place to represent on the city council. I hope the voters will elect the both of us on 5th May.