PLANS for a massive development with 300 homes, holiday lodges, a hotel, two new marinas and industrial sites at Sharpness Docks have been rejected.

The Canal and River Trust’s ambitious development was refused permission by Stroud District Council earlier this week.

The proposals, which covered 6.6 hectares of land, included two marinas, up to 1250 sqm of shops, cafes and bars, up to 7,000 sqm of commercial floor space and 100 holiday lodges and camping pitches.

The scheme also featured a hotel, public open space, landscaping, visitor parking and a new access road.

Planning officer John Chaplin told the development control committee that the scheme had impacts but due to its overall benefits their recommendation was to grant permission.

“It does produce significant regeneration benefits,” he said.

“These meet the vision for the area which is outlined in the local plan.

“There’s significant economic investment, the commercial space as well as the leisure element which brings benefits. There’s also a social benefit in sustaining the local settlement.”

But more than 50 people objected to the proposals along with Berkeley Town Council and Hinton Parish Council.

All three ward councillors spoke against the proposals at the February 27 meeting.

Gazette Series: A map of the Sharpness Docks development which was refused this week by Stroud District Council A map of the Sharpness Docks development which was refused this week by Stroud District Council

 “Absolute madness” 

Councillor Gordon Craig (C, Berkeley Vale) called on the committee to reject the scheme and read a letter on behalf of Berkeley Town Council which expressed concerns over the proposals.

These included concerns over road capacity and safety of Oldminster Road and Saniger Lane along with the lack of adequate public transport for residents and schoolchildren.

“The quality of life for Oldminster Road residents will change quite dramatically,” he said.

And Councillor Haydn Jones (C, Berkeley Vale) raised concerns about the lack of green space and said many people had objected to it.

“That island area is already extensively used informally and has been for many many years for exercise and dog walking.

“I accept there will be benefits, I am keen to see commercial investment in the docks and most people would like to see business and jobs growing there and we also need houses.”

However, he raised concerns about the lack of affordable housing and a community football pitch.

“Oldminster Road is simply not acceptable as an access point,” he added.

And Councillor Lindsey Green (C, Berkeley Vale) said the Sharpness was a fully working dock with a wide range of businesses as well as traditional loading and unloading of cargo that go all over the world.

“This is not Gloucester Docks or Portishead,” she said.

“Sharpness Docks are a large employment area, employing generations of local people.

"This year will actually see 150 years of Sharpness Docks operating and it is still going from strength to strength.”

She said the site was a heritage asset with unique commercial advantages for the UK.

Her fundamental concerns were the “absolute madness” lack of financial contributions for education and libraries.

Gazette Series: The Canal and River Trust ambitious mixed used development plans for Sharpness Docks were refused permission by Stroud District Council this week. FREE TO USE FOR ALL PARTNERS. CREDIT: SDC/Canal and River Trust

Officers clarified the proposals were outline only and details regarding the access were not currently being considered.

Natural England were happy with the planned mitigation and they said the scheme would not affect the operation of the site.

Concerns over safety on Oldminster Road

Hinton Parish Cllr Andrew Mills, who also spoke against the scheme at the meeting, said they strongly objected to the use of Oldminster Road as access which would cause traffic congestion and a safety hazard.

“It’s currently difficult without an additional 300 plus cars using the road,” he said.

Gloucestershire County Council officer Stephen Chandler also spoke at the meeting and said Shire Hall objected because of the impact it would have on education and library provision and lack of funding to mitigate this.

Planning officers said they had tested the viability of the scheme and it could not provide the full amount of contributions which led to the County Council’s objections.

“We’ve got to look at the wider benefits of the scheme and then come to a decision,” Mr Chaplin said.

Trust say site would bring employment opportunities

Philip Smith, the Canal and River Trust’s agent, called on the committee to approve the proposals.

He said the scheme has been extensively examined and assessed by its officers as consultees and that the County Council had no justifiable grounds to maintain an objection.

“The site itself is allocated in the current adopted local plan.

"And the trust has been progressing a comprehensive planning application since its adoption.”

Mr Smith said the development would provide much needed housing and employment opportunities as well as substantial areas of public open space.

He said: “The proposals protect shipping activities at the docks and provide substantial additional land for the expansion of commercial activities linked to the docks.”

He also said the plans are supported by ecological surveys to fully understand any impacts they may have on nature.

Committee reject plans

During the debate Cllr Victoria Gray (C, Cam) said she was conflicted over the proposal as they provided benefits but said the scheme went against several of the council’s policies.

And Cllr John Jones (C, Severn) echoed that it was a very difficult decision to make but his instinct was to turn down the proposals.

Cllr Martin Pearcy (G, Coaley and Uley) said he wanted to support the plans but “there were so many policies not being met”.

“I do want this particular area,” he said. “The industrial and recreational opportunities need to be improved in the area and if it needs housing to support it I would be OK with that.

"But I’m not sure this particular application is one I could put my full weight behind.”

Cllr Gray proposed rejecting the scheme as she felt on balance that it did more harm than good and this was seconded by Cllr Martin Brown (G, Bisley).

Cllr Gray said the scheme went against council policies over development contributions and its vision for the area.

The committee voted to reject the plans by eight votes to three with one abstention.