STRATFORD District Council was this week accused of flouting a key European directive when it drew up controversial plans for a new town in South Warwickshire.
Yesterday (Wednesday) campaigners against the scheme demanded that all work on the project should be stopped until the full legal obligations were met.
The “flouting” allegation is contained in a report by a planning consultant hired by the three parish councils of Lighthorne, Lighthorne Heath and Gaydon.
The report states: “There has been no attempt to prepare a strategic environmental assessment [SEA] for the plan as required by law. This is a fundamental flaw and no further progress should be made until it has been rectified.”
Under the European directive, which the UK adopted nearly ten years ago, a SEA—which assesses the environmental impacts of a major scheme—must be prepared with public participation and then put up for public consultation before it is adopted.
The district council has included plans for a 4,800-home settlement in its emerging core strategy on 738 acres of land between the B4100 and the M40 , running south from Chesterton Wood to Gaydon.
The plans—prepared by the Bird Group of Stratford and the Commercial Estates Group— envisage 1,900 of the homes being built between now and 2028.
Representatives from the three parish councils handed in the consultants’ report at the district council’s headquarters in Stratford last Friday—the end of the specially-extended parish council consultation period.
Cllr Laura Steele, who chairs Forse (Friends of a Rural and Sustainable Environment)—the body set up to fight the new town plans – told the Herald yesterday: “We demand that SDC conduct a full SEA now, halt any further action until it has been done, and that they then consult on it, as required by law. This is a fundamental flaw in their plan and they must remedy it immediately to ensure that proper and full SEA procedures are followed.”
Cllr Alan Archer, who has taken over from Cllr Steele as chairman of Lighthorne Parish Council so she can concentrate on Forse, added: “A comprehensive range of subjects has been covered in this report, including noise, ecological issues and pollution. There would seem to be very few, if any satisfactory solutions.”
On environmental concerns, the report says: “Inadequate attention has been given to the issues of noise, pollution and ecology.
“Being adjacent to a motorway, it beggars belief that there will not be tangible effects from CO2 emissions.
“There are high noise levels at which planning permission should not normally be granted.
“It is believed that there may well be sites of ecological value in the proposed development area, but this has simply not been considered.”
The report also criticises the district council for not talking to neighbouring authorities when drawing up the plan. Warwick District Council are also planning 4,000 homes in the Europa Way area whose residents are likely to use the same transport corridor.
It says: “Key linkages outside Stratford DC are not fully considered and there is no clear evidence that SDC have fully engaged with other neighbouring local authorities and therefore seem not to have fulfilled their duty to co-operate.
“There clearly must be some proper consideration of such close socio-economic linkages but this seems not to have happened. This is a major shortcoming in the soundness of the project at Gaydon/Lighthorne Heath.”
The report adds: “Traffic congestion issues have not been properly considered and suggested park and ride facilities are too vague. Inadequate information is presented on the issue of alternative sites considered.”
Under the terms of the European Union Aarhus Convention, it is mandatory that qualifying plans, policies, and strategies require a Strategic Environmental Assessment to be carried out and consulted upon prior to adoption. The three parishes' consultant says the new town scheme should be classified as a “development plan” and therefore qualifies for a mandatory SEA.
Separate and additional representations were handed in by the parish councils of Gaydon and Lighthorne Heath last Friday.
Gaydon highlighted concerns over flooding and said that an archaeological site of “national importance” towards Lighthorne Heath had been identified by the Warwickshire County Archaeologist. They also say the brownfield sites should be utilised before agricultural land is destroyed.
Lighthorne Heath referred to traffic concerns and worries about wildlife as well as how the new town would be covered by the emergency services. A parish council survey of the village found that, of those who responded, 64 per cent were against, 30 per cent had reservations and only six per cent welcomed the new settlement.
Asked for a comment on the claim that Stratford District Council had flouted a European directive, a spokeswoman for the council said the authority would consider all the issues as part of the consultation at a meeting of the ruling cabinet on 14th October and at the full council on 21st October.
She added: “No further comment will be made on this at this time.”
He has even chosen to set up his office well away from any kind of police building—for the time being in a county-...
Now that a scheme to develop up to 800 homes on the site has been given official government backing, the proposals are e...
STRATFORD-on-Avon District is an attractive place to live and its population has grown rapidly over recent decades. &nb...