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Joint Core Strategy 2010 - Part 1

Joint Core Strategy - Part 1

2 Key Issues

2.1 The characteristics outlined in the spatial portrait, the evidence base and community engagement work have identified issues that need to be addressed in the Joint Core Strategy.

A. Risk of lack of self-reliance and complementarity between settlements

2.2 Larger urban areas of Gloucester, Cheltenham and Tewkesbury, together with Winchcombe and Bishops Cleeve, offer a wide range of services, facilities and opportunities, while more rural communities can feel isolated with few or no services on hand.  By developing complimentary relationships settlements can work together to serve the community, become more self-reliant and reduce the need to travel.  There is a need for the area to be more competitive together.

B. Regeneration of urban areas

2.3 The urban centres have areas in need of regeneration and revitalisation.  These areas contribute to loss of economic activity, businesses relocating outside the area and reduced retail activity.  Urban centres need to be regenerated to increase the area's attractiveness to investors, visitors and residents, to bring centres back into use and to make the area robust and competitive for today's economy and that of the future.  Developed needs to compliment the historic environment, where new and old need to work together.

C. Declining retail offer

2.4 Urban centres and rural areas are seeing the closure of retail outlets.  The area also looses custom to larger centres such as Bristol, Cardiff, Birmingham and Swindon, which are all easily accessible alternatives.  Cheltenham in particular has experienced a reduction in its national appeal to retail customers.

D. Increasing demand for housing and particularly affordable housing

2.5 A key challenge facing the area is to provide the level of housing required within the existing urban areas.  The area faces a variety of housing needs and in particular affordable housing, lifetime homes, accommodation for the elderly and all age groups, gypsy and traveller accommodation, family homes as well as an increasing numbers of single households.  The Joint Core Strategy must set out a long-term strategy for accommodating the housing, together with employment, retail and leisure requirements, together with the infrastructure required to support this growth. 

E. Low skills and poor education attainment

2.6 There are disparities in education attainment across the Joint Core Strategy area, with Gloucester having far fewer residents achieving NVQ Level 4 and above.  However, residents within Tewkesbury Borough and Gloucester achieve higher GCSE results than those in Cheltenham.  The opportunity for education and skills training needs to be accessible for all residents with the Joint Core Strategy area.  The need for re-training opportunities may become greater with changing economies and business opportunities.  The area must readdress the current loss of school, college and university leavers to attract business and commerce with a strong local workforce.

F. Job provision, lack of employment and economy

2.7 Gloucester city has a lower level of business stock than the rest of the area.  A key challenge facing the Joint Core Strategy is to ensure that employment land and jobs are delivered to enhance the economy in sustainable locations to minimise the need to travel.  This is particularly pertinent in urban areas where the availability of land is low.  The Core Strategy faces challenges in delivering these requirements with an aging population, enhancing the need to attract and retain skilled working age people to this beautiful part of the south west region.  The economy across the area, and particularly the rural area, suffers from a lack of infrastructure and high speed broadband, particularly in the rural areas.  The area currently accommodates industrial businesses which are important to the economy, it is vital these are retained and their needs supported.

G. Deprivation

2.8 The whole JCS area supports an increasing number of households claiming housing benefit with Gloucester having the highest amount of areas within the top 10% most deprived nationally.  Residents within Gloucester and Cheltenham are more likely to face fuel poverty than those living in Tewkesbury Borough.  These figures reflect the more affluent nature of rural locations.  However, those living in rural areas face difficulties accessing services and facilities.  The data highlights the areas' distribution of pockets of deprivation within otherwise affluent areas.  It is important to address the levels of crime and the fear of crime across the area, and particularly in the urban areas, together is an adequate supply of community infrastructure.

H. Poor access to services and healthcare

2.9 The rural nature of the JCS area means that many residents have to travel to reach services, with some areas suffering from inaccessibility.  Access to public transport across the area increases dependency on private car usage and is an issue that needs to be addressed through the Joint Core Strategy.  Evidence indicates that at a local level the number of residents dying early as a result of key illnesses is notably higher in Gloucester.  The Joint Core Strategy can play a key role in promoting healthy lifestyles and exercise through the provision of open space, green infrastructure and sports facilities, as well as creating green linkages fostering health improvements through walking and cycling.

I. Public transport and congestion

2.10 Use of the private car is high and the area suffers from congestion and poor air quality.  Communities across the Joint Core Strategy area have to travel for services.  There is a need to reduce travel, creating balanced communities with an adequate provision of facilities.  There is a need to reduce and manage car use and promote and encourage more sustainable means of travel, such as walking, cycling, public transport, with appropriate, accessible and sustainable transport provision. 

J. Flood risk

2.11 The River Severn and River Avon, their tributaries and surface water and water movement have an impact on the area.  Gloucestershire has been adversely affected by flood events in the past; residents and infrastructure are in need of protection from the segregation caused by such events. 

K. Risk to natural environmental assets

2.12 Included within the area are internationally and nationally important habitats, Sites of Special Scientific Interest, the Cotswold Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, areas of landscape and biodiversity importance and locally important wildlife sites.  Also within the Joint Core Strategy area are Special Areas of Conservation, including the Severn Estuary SAC, SPA and Ramsar site.  Most habitats and species are subject to ongoing pressures and are in need of protection and enhancement.  Additional and improved greenspace in needed within urban areas and on the urban fringes.  There is a need to enhance the protection of areas and species through maintaining openness, preventing isolation and areas becoming cut-off.  The openness of the views to and from the Cotswold escarpment, Robinswood Hill and Cleeve Hill are important.  The agricultural land across the area in important for rural economy, food production, tourism and recreation.

L. Climate change

2.13 Greenhouse gasses are contributing to climate change, which will affect the weather and flood events in the future.  Residents in the area are high users of the private car, there are few renewable energy installations, and many rural residents have to travel for services, all of which contribute to greenhouse gas emissions.  Development can contribute to climate change and the use of energy, as well as increasing waste.  Evidence highlights that the amount of waste produced across the area is a key issue.  The Joint Core Strategy has a key role to play in promoting sustainable design and construction, making better use of resources, minimising waste and carbon emissions.

M. Provision and protection of cultural, leisure and tourism offers

2.14 The area plays host to many important historic assets that are great tourist attractions, including the Gloucester docks and cathedral, Cheltenham's regency architecture and grandeur, Tewkesbury Abbey and Tudor buildings and picturesque market towns and villages, all set within attractive Cotswold and Severn Vale landscapes.  The area needs to improve the opportunities that these assets present to reduce the 'gateway' effect and return the area to a 'destination' on the border of the South West, West Midlands and South Wales.  A need for sufficient hotel provision has been highlighted through the evidence base, this will support the areas' numerous festivals and events.

N. Providing for inclusive communities

2.15 The Joint Core Strategy area is home to a wide range of communities from a variety of backgrounds.  These communities have differing housing, cultural and living requirements.  The Joint Core Strategy shall play a role in providing all residents with a safe place to life that provides equal opportunities, meets their requirements and enhances their community.

Are the Key Issues the right ones for the Joint Core Strategy to tackle?
Do you think there are any issues missing? If so, please indicate an evidence source to support the issue.

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