HUGELY controversial plans to build a new town in South Warwickshire have been significantly curtailed because they would have interfered with the expansion aspirations of Jaguar Land Rover (JLR).
The proposals to build 4,800 homes in the area of Gaydon and Lighthorne Heath (GLH) have been substantially revised so that a much lower figure of 3,000 is now being considered.
But the knock-on effect of this change – along with the fact that increased housing targets for the Stratford-on-Avon district are also being envisaged – is equally controversial.
In order to accommodate up to 11,800 new homes between the dates of 2011 and 2031 Stratford-on-Avon District Council is now looking at the possibility of other options, including the building of:
· Between 2,500 and 3,000 homes south-east of the town of Stratford-upon-Avon, between Banbury Road and Tiddington
· About 3,000 homes at Long Marston Airfield
· An estimated 2,350 homes between Southam and Long Itchington, on disused land forming part of the Southam Cement Works
· Up to 1,000 homes at Lower Farm, Stoneythorpe, about a mile west of Southam
The decision to consider the Southam and Stoneythorpe proposals emerged after the plan for GLH cause uproar. The district council found itself up against not only a collection of extremely angry local residents, but also the car giant JLR.
Both the residents and JLR knew nothing about the “new town” scheme until July 2013, even though the project had apparently been in formulation for between 18 months to two years.
In papers going before the district council’s ruling cabinet on Monday 13th January it is pointed out that “further discussions” have taken place since last October between the “relevant parties” – JLR, the district council and the developers.
The papers state: “These discussions have culminated in a revised development proposal coming forward that would enable Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) to expand its current Gaydon site onto land to the east of the B4100 that was previously proposed for a mix of housing and employment related development.
“The capacity of the site to accommodate new housing is as a result significantly reduced.
“The new housing would now be restricted to that part of the site lying to the north of Gaydon Coppice and the anticipated capacity is up to approximately 3,000 dwellings.
“It is no longer proposed that new employment land would be included other than that potentially to be developed by JLR. Overall, this is a markedly different proposal from that previously consulted on.
“It is recommended that further consultation should now be carried out on the revised proposal.”
Cllr Laura Steele, chairman of FORSE (Friends Of a Rural and Sustainable Environment) which has fought the GLH scheme, said: "As we feared and predicted, the GLH plan has become a scaled-down, no-jobs, car-dependent housing ghetto stuck alongside a motorway with its children being bussed to secondary schools, adding to the predicted traffic chaos.
“There’s no additional transport infrastructure, use of brownfield sites or community to absorb and integrate with - there is absolutely nothing to recommend it.
“In six months, GLH has gone from being - to quote SDC - the 'least worst option' to simply the worst option.”
For further reaction and analysis see next week’s Midweek Herald and Stratford Herald.
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