Prince Charles' hometown could find itself expanding in size by a fifth during 2014 after a series of planning decisions that have thrown 'the gates wide open' for developers across the whole of the Cotswolds.
Planners at Cirencester's Cotswold District Council voted to allow a second application for hundreds of new homes on Highfield Farm, on the edge of Tetbury, to go ahead – just as a judicial review to stop the first application failed.
District planners have now failed to stop a series of planning applications for green field sites around the town of Tetbury, including one for the main south entrance to the town just a mile from the Prince of Wales' home at nearby Highgrove.
The Highfield Farm site will see 250 homes built, with another 40 or so at Berrells Road. More applications for other green field sites – including some 350 homes opposite the town's secondary school to the north west of the town, and hundreds more to the north, could see at least 600, but maybe as many as 1,000 new homes proposed or built in the next year.
Townsfolk in Tetbury, who have formed a campaign group called STEPS – Stop Tetbury's Excessive Planning Schemes – have blamed Cotswold's planners for failing to create a five-year plan for new homes, which has led to developers forcing through their own schemes.
Lib Dem opposition leader and parliamentary candidate Paul Hodgkinson has turned the campaign into an issue for the next election, claiming that Tory MP Geoffrey Clifton-Brown has failed to back Tetbury's cause sufficiently.
He said the Cotswold Conservatives had failed 'comprehensively to protect the Cotswolds', and allowed a situation to occur where there was no Local Plan up to date.
"It is very significant news, as it means the gates are now wide open to developers across the Cotswolds, due to the council's failure to produce an up-to-date plan," he said.
Tetbury's local councillor Barry Gibbs said the whole town was 'very disappointed' at the outcome.
Campaigners with the STEPS group have been fighting – and mostly losing – against a variety of different developers' plans for almost all the green fields to the south, west and north of the town. A spokesman said the entire town's infrastructure could not cope with so many new homes.
They also warned the town's booming tourist trade – helped in large part by the presence of Highgrove nearby and Prince Charles opening his own Highgrove Shop in the heart of the town – could also be affected if Tetbury was surrounded by estates of new homes.