Agenda item

Garden Town update

To follow.

Minutes:

5.1       Brendan Walsh, Interim Director of Place, was invited to give an update on Tewkesbury’s Garden Town. He was also supported by Colin Chick, Director of Economy, Environment and Infrastructure at Gloucestershire County Council. The key information highlighted was:

  • There was a plan for a garden town to be created in Tewkesbury with the first phase being concentrated around Junction 9 of the M5. The garden town would create 10000 additional homes and infrastructure for new places of employment. It was emphasised that this was one of the biggest home building projects in the country.
  • Tewkesbury Borough Council created a Gateway Review Team under the company, Cratus to create a report which outlined recommendations for what Tewkesbury Borough Council would need to do to make the project happen. The report contained 17 recommendations which had begun being implemented.
  • The members were informed that a Local Plan had to be created to encompass how the garden town would fit with the rest of Tewkesbury. It was stated that this would take 3 years to complete and was pivotal to the garden town being created.

 

5.2 Responding to a member question about the inclusion of green and blue infrastructure, it was explained that ‘Green infrastructure’ meant the use of soft areas such as plants, trees, and greenery and ‘Blue infrastructure’, the use of water courses such as ponds, lakes and storm drainage.  It was stated that there were 9 guiding principles for garden towns which included a key focus on the living environment and making sure that the town would be a great place for people to live and work which would have to include green and blue infrastructure. The Blenheim Estate was given as an excellent example of this. It was emphasised that creating a vibrant local economy was also important, so the garden town would include space for new businesses. The purpose of garden towns was to be built with the latest sustainable technology, one of the plans mentioned was to include a solar farm on the outskirts of the garden town.

5.3 When asked about the risk of flooding in Tewkesbury and if this would affect the garden town, the officer confirmed that reports had been created to demonstrate that the area being used for the garden town would not flood but he did identify that more needed to be done to prove this to residents.

5.4 Responding to a question about the infrastructure work that would need to be done to improve Junction 9 of the M5, the officer confirmed that for the garden town to be successful, the M5 Junction 9 had to be improved. It was emphasised that these improvements were at the forefront of the planning for the garden town.

5.5 In response to a member question about governance arrangements for the garden town project, it was stated that this was something that had been identified in the Gateway Review as needing improvement. Work had been undertaken on governance and a report would be given to Tewkesbury Borough Council’s council meeting on Tuesday 26th September 2023. For full details of this meeting please click here.

5.6 When asked about how the garden town fitted with the design code for Tewkesbury, it was stated there had been descriptions of what was going to be built in the new garden town but that the list would need updating. It was emphasised that more work needed to be done to decide what types of industries and employment should be included in the garden town and then the schools would need to be informed so that the necessary skills were being taught in the hope that it would increase the retention of young people in the area.

5.7 A member asked about the capacity to improve rail connections to Ashchurch station to increase access to public transport in Tewkesbury. The officers confirmed that in May 2023, there was only one train every two hours into Ashchurch station, he stated that there were now three. It was stated that the officer was currently in talks to get the new Cardiff to Bromsgrove service from Transport for Wales to stop at Ashchurch which would mean five trains would run through Ashchurch every two hours. It was emphasised that they were making sure that a good rail transport system would be in place before the garden town’s first residents had moved in.

5.8 When asked about how the decarbonisation of transport was being included in the plan for the garden town, the officers stated that the focus of the town was to create a place where there was a focus on walking and cycling rather than car use. It was emphasised that this would only happen if the infrastructure for public transport and sustainable transport options was in place before the first people moved in. The garden town’s aim would be to have everything a person would need no more than a 15 minutes’ walk away so that it encouraged them to walk or cycle rather than take a car.

5.9 It was stated that whilst this was the first garden town, to fulfil the county’s housing requirements, another 6-7 would need to be created in the county.

 

Supporting documents: