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SEPTEMBER CHAMBER REPORT FROM JON LEAMON
This month’s lobbying work has included the Joint Core Strategy, which is now going forward for approval by the three councils (Cheltenham, Gloucester and Tewkesbury), the redevelopment of North Place, which is also going ahead with Morrisons, who are committed to the project, and the Brewery development, which has now commenced building work. The Portland Street housing site is, however, currently on hold as the site is up for resale.
Negotiations are continuing with Network Rail and First Great Western regarding the upgrading of Cheltenham Railway Station and we hope to have some positive news for the next newsletter.
We have become increasingly aware of the number of buildings and the amount of floor space in the Borough, which have been changed to residential use.
The Coalition Government introduced permitted Development Rights to encourage these changes to help the economy, increase the amount of residential accommodation and bring redundant commercial buildings back into use. This has happened quite extensively in Cheltenham with some examples being the former Chelsea Building Society, the Kraft Building, the former Echo Offices, the former Westbury Homes Offices in Lansdown Road and a number of buildings in Bath Street, Imperial Square, Andover Road and numerous other locations throughout the Town.
In most cases they were buildings that were no longer fit for purpose and their change was both reasonable and beneficial for the Town but it does leave a significant reduction in the amount of floor space that was once occupied for employment. While the country has been in recession this has not been an issue but as things continue to improve, the lack of available properties may become a problem. Although we need to compensate for these losses and also provide for expansion for the future by making sufficient allocations of land we also need a variety of existing buildings. Not all employers can afford the time delays or the higher costs of new built accommodation.
Part of our role is to pass on the views of members to the Borough Council so any comments and thoughts on this subject or any other are very welcome.
Deputy Chief Executive
Cheltenham Chamber of Commerce