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Labour and Tories meet in the middle on Cheltenham housing

18 December 2013

The Labour and Conservative parties have joined forces to support the reform of an ambitious joint core strategy (JCS) housing scheme in Gloucestershire.

A huge submission has been made to three local authorities, which details alterations to a project that would see 33,449 new homes built in the areas of Cheltenham, Tewkesbury and Gloucester.

MPs from both sides of Westminster have agreed that the plans would benefit from a rethink and have forced the issue by sending letters to all three areas' councils.

They are set to make their cases particularly strongly to Cheltenham Borough Council, which is led by the Liberal Democrats, reports the Gloucestershire Echo.

Inevitably, though, Labour and the Tories couldn't possibly be in complete agreement, with a number of subplots that are causing more familiar discrepancies.

Although they accept that building is needed, the Conservatives claim the number of the homes that are being planned for construction will lead accumulate too much expense at such an early stage in the economy's recovery.

Now, Alex Chalk - the Tory candidate hoping to take control of Cheltenham at the next local election - has got himself involved in the dilemma too. In contrast to George Osborne's desire to build wherever possible, he argues environmental issues must be more of a priority.

He said: "My fundamental objection to the JCS is that it would allow vast tracts of green spaces to be bulldozed without any real certainty about the level of housing demand in 20 years. Now that the public consultation is over, the borough council needs to rethink its plans and redraft this strategy drastically."

However, the Labour Party's concerns lie in the type of accommodation that will be built at the proposed sites. In its letter to the trio of authorities, members have stressed there is a "desperate need for more local, affordable housing" in the region.

This viewpoint comes amid fears that rising energy prices and the synthetic growth that has occurred in the market as opposed since the Help to Buy scheme was launched are excluding poorer residents from the property ladder.