Calls grow for Old Tramway housing plan to be rejected

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Live music on stage during Stratford FabFest 2015 on land behind the Old Tramway Inn. Photo: Mark Williamson.

Opposition is mounting against plans to build houses behind the Old Tramway Pub with the town council, the highways department and the Environment Agency all objecting to the idea.

The proposal to build eight dwellings and car parking on land behind the pub, was submitted by pub operator Punch Partnerships in October, but ran into a wave of anger from locals.

The potential loss of green space, currently used for charity events and festivals, is what has irked residents the most, though other issues such as an increasing flood risk and problems with access are also driving opposition.

A clubhouse on the site, which would be demolished if the plan is approved, is currently used as a rehearsal space by Stratford’s Phoenix Players drama group.

However the Herald understands that discussions between the group and Punch Partnerships about finding an alternative venue are ongoing.

Addressing a planning meeting at Stratford Town Council last week, resident Cohl Warren-Howles, said: “This is a flood plain. The Shipston Road has been flooded and in1998 the road was underwater. Sewage came up through the drains to residents back doors, covering their gardens with filthy water.

“With added houses and less soil to soak up water, more homes would be at risk.

“With the traffic problems on the Shipston Road, this development will make this situation worse, as more vehicles feed on to the road.

“When the pub holds events, the driveway is marshalled. It is the only way in and out and is a well-used route into town. Construction traffic in this narrow space, will be a safety hazard for pedestrians.”

She added: “This is a historic place. Do we want our beautiful town to become another faceless, characterless, conglomeration of houses? Every town needs a soul and The Old Tramway pub and garden does its part to ensure just that.”

The recent adoption of Stratford’s Neighbourhood Development Plan has played a key part in the town council’s reasons for opposing the plan.

Part of its submission to the district council reads: “The proposed development would be contrary to Policy H5 of the Neighbourhood Plan, in that the development of this pub garden land would not facilitate a safe or suitable access and would exacerbate the risk of flooding.”

It adds that the loss of the land as a community asset also conflicts with the adopted plan, while the statement also raises objections to the removal of trees and is critical of the building designs selected to the applicant.

Within its objection to the district council, the county council’s highways department states that it has ‘serious safety concerns’ about the access proposed to the development, while highlighting other problems with pedestrian routes.

The objection from the Environment Agency mainly revolves around flood risk, with the organisation classing the site as within Flood Zone 3 of the River Avon.

It explains that such a site has ‘a high probability of flooding’.

More than 60 letters of opposition to the proposal have been submitted to the district council, which is expected to make a decision on the application at the end of January/beginning of February.