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The quality of the land at Wisloe

The project team has been looking closely at the land identified for the development of a new community at Wisloe. An important part of this work is understanding the suitability of the land proposed for development against other uses, like farming for example.

This is looked at using Agricultural Land Classification, which is used to grade the potential of land for agricultural use. Using this system, Grade 1 is described as excellent quality and Grade 5, at the other end of the scale, is seen as very poor quality. This is one of many factors used to decide the suitability of land for development.

What we have done

To better understand the quality of the land identified for a new community at Wisloe the project team commissioned Soil Environment Services to carry out a survey in 2019. They suggested most of the site was Grade 3b.

The findings of the SES report were subsequently reviewed by an independently commissioned report conducted by Askew Land and Soil, which suggested the site was ALC Grade 2.

The Ernest Cook Trust and Gloucestershire County Council take their role as responsible landowners very seriously. In response to this review, they instructed the project team to commission a new soil survey (with a different organisation – Kernon Countryside Consultants) to give them and the community confidence in the Agricultural Land Classification grade assigned to the site.

This new survey confirmed the site was ALC Grade 2. This defines the land as 'very good quality agricultural land with minor limitations which affect crop yield, cultivations or harvesting'.

Whilst this most recent report grades the land a higher quality for agricultural use, the project team remains of the view that the site is suitable for a new sustainable community at Wisloe, balancing land quality alongside many other factors.

This classification is only one factor to consider on the suitability of a site for development and, in consultation with Natural England, we will explore ways to conserve the better-quality soils. For example, we are exploring using the areas containing the best soils for the gardens, playing fields, allotments, community orchards and parks that will define the new community at Wisloe.

Responding to feedback

It is important that the technical work the masterplan is based on is accurate. A transparent planning process, where this type of work is published and can be scrutinised, means our masterplan benefits from the scrutiny. We want to create a place we can all be proud of and are grateful to everyone who takes an interest and adds value to our plans and the process.

The project team welcomes the discussion on all the work and looks forward to continued conversations on all elements of the masterplan.

If you have any questions or wish to share your views with the project team please email or phone 0330 107 0535.