THE wife of a Stratford district councillor at the centre of a major row over a planning application has resigned from the parish council she chaired because of the furore the proposals have caused.
Sarah Vaudry, wife of Cllr Robert Vaudry (Cons, Bardon), stepped down from Dorsington Parish Council hours ahead of a meeting last Wednesday at which her husband’s hugely contentious plans were due to be discussed.
Mr Vaudry, a former international banker, has enraged residents of Dorsington by proposing to turn his historic home, the Moat House, into a wedding venue and conference centre.
And last night it emerged that Warwickshire County Council had lodged a formal objection to Mr Vaudry’s proposals because of highways problems associated with the project.
What has most angered the villagers—apart from the fact that they only heard about the proposals just before Christmas—is Mr Vaudry’s apparent assumption that his plans would automatically be approved by Stratford District Council, of which he is a member.
They have drawn this conclusion because a sophisticated website advertising the Moat House as an events centre has been up and running for some weeks, even inviting people to make bookings. The website was still in operation yesterday, despite the controversy.
Villagers were also wondering why the proposals came like a bolt from the blue given that Mrs Vaudry was chairman of the parish council throughout their preparation and presumably would have known about them quite some time ago. The official notification of the plans only came to the parish council after they had already been publicised in a theatre programme on 16th December. This was the first that anyone in Dorsington knew of the scheme.
Last week Mr Vaudry suffered the unusual and humiliating experience of having a 28-day “stop” notice issued against him by the authority of which he is a member, bringing to a temporary halt building work at the property to ensure he’s complying with the ecological requirements of an earlier planning permission.
This week two of Mrs Vaudry’s former colleagues on the parish council—husband-and-wife Donald and Margaret Lindsay—launched a blistering attack on Mr Vaudry’s proposals and accused him of “morally and technically” misusing the planning process.
They said he had done this by launching the wedding and events venue via its website firstname.lastname@example.org and by advertising in a Christmas concert programme at the Courtyard Theatre in Stratford on 16th December.
Mr and Mrs Lindsay—he is a parish councillor and she is the parish clerk—declared: “It was only after calling the planning department on Monday the 17th that the planning application was identified and posted to the parish clerk on 21st December.
The normal planning notices were not posted and the immediate neighbours did not receive their advice of planning until Christmas Eve.”
The couple—as part of their formal objections to Stratford District Council—added: “The operations of a wedding/event business at the Moat House will, at a stroke, destroy the right to enjoyment of our quiet and peaceful village centre.
“It would start an uncontrolled development with scope for weddings and functions every week, especially in the spring and summer. Wedding parties of over 100 would be congregating and ‘partying’ on the patio outside the barn, which is less than 100 yards from the sanctity of the village green.”
Objections to the proposals from local residents which are listed on Stratford District Council’s website are exceptionally hostile. For instance, John and Carol Sansom declare: “The benefits of the proposals, if successful, would be entirely for the applicants’ financial self-indulgence.
“The huge negative impact of the proposals will be to the detriment of a great number of local rural communities, the rural environment and directly and significantly impact local inhabitants.”
This theme is echoed by the previous occupant of the Moat House Igor Kolo-dotschko, who wades in by stating that the scheme would benefit nobody in Dorsington except the applicant.
Other residents raise concerns about some weddings taking place over several days and about the threat of crime in Dorsington if there was a regular and massive influx of people to the village.
Mr Vaudry this week said he did not wish to make any comment until the planning process had been concluded.
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