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Fostering sustainable living: Exploring the Tewkesbury Garden Communities charter


The Tewkesbury Garden Communities Charter strives to be a beacon of innovative and sustainable living. Crafted with a vision to foster vibrant, interconnected neighbourhoods while preserving the natural environment, this charter aims to achieve thoughtful urban design and community engagement. 

It’s goal to bring 10,000 new homes to the Tewkesbury area comes in the midst of a housing crisis and increasing pressure to meet the local five-year housing land supply, which as of September 2023 stood at only 3.24 years. 

At its core, the Tewkesbury Garden Communities Charter emphasises the principles of sustainability, equity, and quality of life. By integrating these principles into its framework, the charter aims to create thriving communities that prioritise the well-being of residents and the environment alike. 

For those less familiar with its origin, Tewkesbury was awarded Garden Town status by the government in March 2019, enabling the local authority to develop the town in a holistic and sustainable way. Since then, it was paused for review (in May 2023) by the then newly elected Leader of the Council, Cllr Richard Stanley, and the charter was finally voted in by members of Tewkesbury Borough Council earlier this year.  

In essence, the Tewkesbury Garden Communities Charter represents a holistic approach to community development—one that aims to prioritise the well-being of both people, (existing and new residents) and the planet.  

I attended the full council meeting in late February, where members of Tewkesbury Borough Council voted the charter in. Interestingly, I was the only spectator – perhaps an indication of the level of interest outside the council chamber. The sentiment from councillors in the room was mixed, with many agreeing with the charter and its principles, but others showing scepticism and confusion around its overall impact and ability to enforce its principles and goals. 

Much like the charter, our approach to engagement is also a holistic one. For St Modwen Homes, we undertook an engagement programme for its MoD Ashchurch proposals, which if approved will form part of the Tewkesbury Garden Communities. 

As well as holding an event close to the site at Ashchurch, in an effort to reach as many people in the area as possible, we set up a stall at Tewkesbury Town Market which allowed us to receive a wider range of feedback from members of the community. This approach is one we look to deliver for each of our clients, knowing from experience that meaningful engagement means taking plans to the people to help mobilise and empower them to share their voice.  

Whether the charter delivers the impact it aims to bring to the area, it’s too soon to say. There is a long road ahead in terms of the various developments coming forward within the garden communities, one that will hopefully lead to a sustainable and delivery focused future. 

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