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 leader of Stratford District Council has vented his frustration at the “red tape” facing local authorities struggling to formulate their new local plans amid the current gold rush of house building proposals.
Cllr Chris Saint (Cons, Tredington) was reacting to the fact that yet another council planning refusal—this time for a total of 350 homes in Alcester—had been overturned by an inspector whose ruling has been backed by the government.
Two separate schemes on sites off Allimore Lane in Alcester—one for 190 homes and the other for 160—have been granted planning permission by Communities Secretary Eric Pickles despite refusals by the district council’s west area planning committee and ferocious opposition from local residents.
And yet again the council’s current lack of a new local plan and its failure to demonstrate that it has a five-year supply of housing land have been cited as reasons for overturning the authority’s decisions.
However, in responding to this latest blow to the council, Cllr Saint told the Herald: “The process of putting new core strategies in place is dogged by red tape and the need for us to pay for advice and evidence.
“I find it tedious that ministers make it too easy for developers to seek outline planning permission and so bypass putting these sites first into the five-year land supply where any proposals would undergo considerably more scrutiny than they are getting.”
Cllr Saint said: “Stratford District Council is not alone in working extremely hard to deal with those issues that could give more weight to emerging planning policies.
“We are close to publishing our revised submission draft core strategy that can undergo the required tests of soundness in a public examination, and provide the base five-year land supply.”
He added: “Though it is no defence, there are only 47 out of a target of 326 councils that have an adopted core strategy compliant with the NPPF [National Planning Policy Framework]. It is hard work.”
However, while no-one challenges these figures, the Liberal Democrat opposition on the district council say that Stratford is in fact among the least advanced of the 279 councils that are still formulating their local plans.
The Allimore Lane ruling is a text book example of how the much-vaunted policy of localism—now enshrined in an Act of that very name—is not working.
Both housing schemes had faced fierce opposition from local residents and had been comprehensively rejected by local councillors sitting on a planning committee.
But with local authorities now facing huge costs if they lose an appeal—the most dramatic for Stratford came recently in Shipston—the district council decided not to defend its own refusal of the Allimore Lane proposals.
As a result the Eclipse Road Residents’ Association, the protest group fighting the plans, was left hugely vulnerable and potentially liable to huge costs if it had remained a formal objector. As a result—and with great reluctance and regret—it withdrew its formal status as an objector.
The current planning process has therefore revealed a disturbing fact – that you can only fight a scheme if you can afford it, which is hardly in line with localism and democracy.