Four years ago Ellis Holtom, of Stratford-upon-Avon, was born with half a working heart. Later, the Herald featured his condition as a tribute to the work of Birmingham Children’s Hospital where he was treated. Now, to mark Congenital Heart Defect Week his mum, Vicki, updates his story. . .
ALL 326 local planning authorities in England, councils like Stratford-on-Avon District, need a local plan. The core strategy is a component of that local plan. It contains all the local district wide policies that need to be considered when processing planning applications. New development needs to satisfy local needs, helping to realise the hopes and ambitions of its communities and protect them from situations they fear. New homes and places to work should provide then with a healthy lifestyle, a pleasant place to live, good recreational facilities and above all the infrastructure that enhances their quality of life. The buzzword to describe this is ‘sustainable’.
THE poor are paying more than they should be for their energy, according to damning new evidence from Stratford-upon-Avon’s Citizens Advice Bureau. Prepayment meters (PPMs) are costing users in fuel poverty a “disproportionate amount” for what little gas and electricity they can afford, the bureau has found. There are around 7.2 million people on prepayment meters in the UK and several thousand in the district of Stratford. Despite Stratford’s reputation as an affluent area, the bureau is being forced to come to the aid of more and more people living in fuel poverty on an increasingly regular basis.
AN OFFICIAL paving stone commemorating Stratford-upon-Avon’s forgotten war hero for the 100th anniversary of the First World War will be placed in the town, the government has confirmed. Rex Warneford – the first man to single-handedly shoot down a zeppelin - was ignored in the government’s initial plans to recognise Victoria Cross winners because he was born abroad in India. The Herald launched a campaign, together with King Edward VI school, where Rex lived and studied for five years, to get the fighter pilot recognised.
THE high drama over future house-building in the Stratford-on-Avon district has been given another sharp twist with the disclosure that three more major proposals have been laid on the table.
Shock plans to build 1,600 homes on Wellesbourne Airfield, together with schemes for 750 homes at Lower Clopton on the edge of Stratford and another 675 at Stoneythorpe near Southam, have sprung from nowhere.
And to add to the intrigue it’s emerged that the Stratford-based Bird Group headed by Tony Bird—already a co-developer of the proposed new settlement at Gaydon and Lighthorne Heath (GLH)—is the company behind the Lower Clopton scheme.
The new proposals have been put forward during the six-week consultation on Stratford District Council’s revised draft core strategy which ended at 5pm Friday 14th March. More than 3,000 responses were received by the council during the consultation period.
Apart from the controversial GLH scheme, which has been scaled down from 4,800 homes to 3,000 or even fewer, the revised document also includes equally explosive plans for 3,500 homes at Long Marston Airfield and 2,750 between Banbury Road in Stratford and the village of Alveston.
However, this latter idea is seen as the weakest of the major proposals under consideration, chiefly because it is the only one of the eight schemes now being highlighted that has no developer behind it.
The biggest shock came in Wellesbourne where residents are in the throes of fighting plans for 81 homes on land at Loxley Road on top of the 379 already built or approved in the village.
The airfield scheme has dwarfed anything else that is in the offing there.
The planning application for the Loxley Road site— which is being recommended for approval by planning officials—is due to be considered by Stratford District Council’s east area planning committee on Wednesday. The meeting is being held at Kineton High School and starts at 6pm.
This scheme is just one of many illustrating the dilemma facing planning officials as they evaluate the pros and cons of proposed housing developments while Stratford District Council continues to remain without an approved local plan.
The official in this case puts it quite bluntly: “At the heart of the NPPF [National Planning Policy Framework] there is a presumption in favour of sustainable development. . .”
The official concludes that this is a sustainable form of development, and says: “Furthermore, the council cannot demonstrate a five-year housing land supply, and therefore its relevant housing policies are considered to be out of date.”
This is a warning that if councillors reject the recommendation to grant the application, the developers will appeal and a planning inspector is likely to overturn the planning committee’s decision.
Meanwhile, in a statement revealing the emergence of the proposed new sites, Stratford District Council said: “Whilst the district council will carefully look at the new sites that have been put forward, it is mindful of the importance of its core strategy being adopted as soon as possible.”
Cllr Chris Saint (Cons, Tredington), the leader of the district council, said: “We are aware of new sites that have come forward as part of the consultation process that will be considered by the planning policy team. However, in the meantime, we will push ahead with our published timetable.”
The council is pointing out that it is too early to judge whether any of the new options are demonstrably better than the others that have previously been considered.
It is therefore treating as entirely hypothetical any suggestions that the new options will require yet another round of public consultations.
“At the independent examination stage the district council will have to demonstrate that it has made a reasonable choice, having considered a range of strategic housing options,” it said.
The opposition Liberal Democrats on the council immediately argued against any further delays in the council’s preparation of its core strategy.
Cllr Richard Cheney (Lib Dem, Shipston), the opposition leader, told the Herald: “Due to the Tories’ lengthy delays in developing a planning policy for the district it’s inevitable that developers will continue to put new sites forward.
“We’re already on the third attempt at a timetable for the core strategy and we can’t afford any more delays. Any proposals from the Conservatives to extend the timetable yet again because of the new sites will be strongly opposed by the Lib Dems.”
And Cllr Peter Moorse (Lib Dem, Stratford) came out strongly against the plan for 750 homes at Lower Clopton. “It’s a site in the green belt with a proposed access on to a new roundabout on the A46,” he said.
“I doubt very much whether the highways authority would agree to this, which means that all the cars from the 750-house site would have to go on to Birmingham Road. This would make an already bad traffic position completely impossible.”
In a separate development this week Forse (Friends of a Rural and Sustainable Environment), the group set up to fight the housing plans for Gaydon and Lighthorne Heath, released the findings of a planning expert who regards the scheme for 3,500 homes at Long Marston Airfield as the “favourable choice” among the new settlement options being considered.
David Holmes, a member of the Royal Town Planning Institute based in South Warwickshire, believes Long Marston to be the most suitable because of the promise of a new by-pass south of Stratford linking to the main road network, a new secondary school, an upgraded primary school and doctors’ surgery.
Mr Holmes, who was instructed by Forse to come up with a “no fear or favour” assessment of the various options, ranked Gaydon and Lighthorne Heath as fourth in the list of sites being considered with dispersal coming fifth and at the bottom.
Southam and Stoneythorpe come third and South-East Stratford second.