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Joint Core Strategy Issues and Key Questions

1. Introduction

1.1. This document has been produced by Gloucester, Cheltenham and Tewkesbury Councils working together to plan the future of the area. Its purpose is to raise awareness of the Key Issues that the area faces and to generate debate about how these could be addressed. The document is the first step towards developing a Joint Core Strategy that will set out the strategic plan for the three authorities and guide future development to the year 2026.  On adoption, the Joint Core Strategy will become part of the statutory development plan for each authority.

1.2. Preparing a Joint Core Strategy will mean having to make choices about how the area will develop in the future. As a result it is important to consult local communities and stakeholders on what they think are the main issues facing the area today and what solutions may be required in the future.

1.3. This consultation document invites you to provide your views on:

  • The Key Issues that need to be addressed;
  • The Vision for the area;
  • The topics the Joint Core Strategy should cover;
  • What policies could be included within the Joint Core Strategy and what the priorities should be.

1.4. This document fulfils the requirements of Regulation 25 of the Town and Country Planning (Local Development) (England) Regulations 2004, as amended.

Structure of the Document

1.5. This document is split into two parts. The first part is about Gloucester, Cheltenham and Tewkesbury Borough in 2009. It explains why a Joint Core Strategy is being produced, how it fits with other plans and summarises the evidence that has been collected for the area. It ends by listing what are considered the Key Issues that the Joint Core Strategy needs to tackle.

1.6. The second part is about the future. It outlines what could be included in a potential Vision for the area in 2026 and a set of Objectives which would need to be met to achieve the Vision. The second part also outlines the possible policy areas that the Joint Core Strategy will need to cover and asks for your views on them. Each topic area includes a brief description of relevant national or regional policy that applies to it before outlining what things need to be considered locally.

Why a Joint Core Strategy?

1.7. The decision to produce a Joint Core Strategy was made by all three Councils in July 2008. Working jointly means that the Councils can plan for the future at a strategic level and make sure that the three areas complement each other. This is particularly important for Gloucester and Cheltenham because, by working together, the City and Town can act as a focus for the area and attract investment and jobs. Working together also means that rural communities will be included in planning for the future of the area and will benefit from increased economic opportunities.

What area will the Joint Core Strategy cover?

1.8. The Joint Core Strategy will be the key document in the development plans of Gloucester City, Cheltenham Borough and Tewkesbury Borough Councils as illustrated below.

Figure 1: Joint Core Strategy Area

JCS Strategy Area



How will the Joint Core Strategy relate to other plans?

1.9. The Joint Core Strategy will be a Development Plan Document and will form part of the three Councils' Local Development Frameworks. Local Development Frameworks were introduced as part of the new planning process brought in by the 2004 Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act as a replacement for Councils' Local Plans. For more information on Local Development Frameworks and the new planning system please visit

1.10. The new planning system also introduced a new type of regional planning document known as Regional Spatial Strategies. These will also form part of Councils' development plans for their area. The Regional Spatial Strategy for the South West has been prepared and undergone independent examination but has yet to be published and there remains some uncertainty about what it will contain in its final version. When it is published, the Joint Core Strategy will have to be in general conformity with its policies.  At present, the most up to date version of the Regional Spatial Strategy is the Secretary of State's Proposed Changes version that was published in July 2008 following the report of the Panel appointed to examine the Draft.

1.11. In addition to the Regional Spatial Strategy, the JCS must also have regard to, and seek to deliver, a wide range of other plans and programmes prepared by each of the Councils and other stakeholders. For example, it must have regard to the Housing Strategies prepared by each authority and the Economic Development Strategies and initiatives in existence. For Gloucester and Cheltenham in particular, the Joint Core Strategy will need to reflect on the regeneration initiatives and proposals coming forward as part of the Gloucester Heritage Urban Regeneration Company and Civic Pride programmes respectively.

What else will influence the Joint Core Strategy?

1.12. Decisions taken in the Joint Core Strategy will need to be based on a strong understanding of the area and a robust evidence base. How, when and where necessary infrastructure can be provided will also be a key factor in decision making. At present the three Councils are preparing a range of evidence base studies. If you would like to view the evidence base, please visit

Links to the Sustainable Community Strategies

1.13. It is also crucial that the Joint Core Strategy delivers on some of the intentions of the four (including the county-wide) Sustainable Community Strategies produced by the Local Strategic Partnerships and the Gloucestershire Conference. A workshop was held in November 2008 where the Local Srategic Partnerships set out what they wished to be included within the Joint Core Strategy. The outcomes of that workshop are listed below.

  1. Develop strong and complementary relationships between communities whilst retaining the local distinctiveness of the City, Spa Town, rural communities and suburbs.
  2. Improved retail offer (shops).
  3. Meeting the variety of housing needs of the communities across the Joint Core Strategy area.
  4. Innovative solutions for transport, planning and urban design to increase the use of public transport.
  5. Develop the employment portfolio of Gloucester, Cheltenham and Tewkesbury.
  6. Develop the skills of people of all ages.
  7. Enhance the cultural, leisure and tourism offer.
  8. Mitigate contributions to climate change and ensure effective adaptations to help improve the resilience of the Joint Core Strategy area.
  9. Reduce the risk of flooding and its impact.
  10. Protect, manage and enhance biodiversity and the natural environment.
  11. Deliver effective and ongoing social, economic and physical regeneration of Gloucester.
  12. Improve health and access to healthcare for residents of Gloucester, Cheltenham and Tewkesbury areas. 

1.14. A fuller and more detailed explanation of each of the above is available from the Joint Core Strategy Local Strategic Partnership Workshop Report, included within the evidence base for the Core Strategy.

1.15. For each of the Council's Sustainable Community Strategy, please visit

What happens next?

1.16. Once all comments are received, a summary of the issues raised will be published. This will then be used to help prepare a Developing Preferred Options Joint Core Strategy for publication in September 2010. The full timetable for the Joint Core Strategy is set out below.

  • Evidence Gathering Stage
  • Issues and Key Questions Public Participation in November 2009
  • Developing Prefered Options Joint Core Strategy in September 2010
  • Pre-submission Draft in March 2011
  • Submission Joint Core Strategy in June 2011
  • Examination in the Autumn of 2011
  • Adoption in December 2011.

Sustainability Appraisal

1.17. Local authorities are required under the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 to test the Joint Core Strategy against a process known as Sustainability Appraisal, incorporating the requirements of the European Strategic Environmental Assessment Directive.

1.18. Sustainability Appraisal is a process that aims to ensure that plans achieve sustainable development. It does this by assessing how the plan's policies will impact on social, environmental and economic considerations and by recommending the most sustainable options available. Where a policy is likely to result in a negative social, environmental or economic effect, the appraisal process will recommend ways of lessening the effect or offsetting it.

1.19. A Sustainability Appraisal Scoping Report was produced and consulted on in October 2008.  The Scoping Report set out a framework of Sustainability Objectives that would be used to assess the Joint Core Strategy. This has now been revised to take account of consultation responses received and agreed with the statutory consultees for the Sustainability Appraisal process: the Environment Agency, English Heritage and Natural England. The revised framework of Sustainability Objectives is available online at

1.20. Each section of this document includes a reference to the Sustainability Objectives that are appropriate to consider when making your response.

1.21. A full Sustainability Appraisal Report will be produced alongside the Developing Preferred Options Joint Core Strategy in September 2010.

1.22. For more information on the Sustainability Appraisal Scoping Report and the Sustainability Appraisal process in general please visit

How to get involved

1.23. This document is all about getting your views. To make this easier, an online consultation system has been provided that allows you to read the document and comment online. You can access the system at  You will need to register to make comments.

1.24. If you wish to see a paper copy of the document these are available at the deposit locations.  You can also download a copy from the Joint Core Strategy website.  In line with the Councils' policies towards green issues paper copies will only be supplied upon specific request and will be charged for. Response forms and any general comments can be sent to the following email address:

1.25. Or by post to:     Joint Core Strategy Team
                                    Municipal Offices
                                    GL50 9SA

1.26. The deadline for responses is 5pm on 1st of February 2010.

1.27. If you have any questions about the document or if you would like a braille, large print, audio or alternative language copy, please contact us.

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