THE leader of Stratford District Council this week defended himself against accusations that he was being “strung along” by developers as the authority strove to formulate a new local plan.
Cllr Chris Saint (Cons, Tredington) said at Monday’s meeting of the council’s ruling cabinet: “Before we put sites into our planning policy documents they must be developer-led.
“People in this room say I’ve been strung along by developers, but we have to put a core strategy together with deliverable proposals. It is inevitable.”
Cllr Saint was speaking just before the cabinet agreed the council should now examine five separate locations for house-building in a bid to meet a housing target of 10,800 in the 20-year period between 2011 and 2031.
And chief executive Paul Lankester told the cabinet it was vital the council avoided the “high risk” of its eventual strategy being judged “unsound” by the Planning Inspectorate because it had not properly examined all options.
He also urged the cabinet to agree the recommendation to evaluate the new package of options in order to avoid any further delays in the council’s core strategy timetable.
This latest document in the emerging core strategy came after the council discovered it would have to substantially scale down proposals to build a 4,800-home new town in the area of Gaydon and Lighthorne Heath (GLH) because they clashed with the expansion plans of car giant Jaguar Land Rover (JLR).
But the decision to include among the options massive housing schemes on the edge of Stratford and at Long Marston prompted one member of the cabinet to vote against the latest package of ideas and another to abstain.
The options are:
The cabinet member who voted against the package was Cllr Lynda Organ (Cons, Stratford) who represents the ward of Alveston in which the 2,750 Stratford homes are being considered. The one who abstained was Cllr Mike Brain (Cons, Quinton), in whose ward Long Marston Airfield is situated
After the vote Cllr Kate Rolfe (Lib Dem, Stratford)—who is also a member for Alveston—asked if Cllr Organ should be “considering her position” in the cabinet after voting against the options.
But Cllr Organ told the Herald: “All councillors think very carefully how to best represent the interests of residents. The issue for me was whether or not to include Stratford South East within the options for consultation and in my opinion this had already been carefully considered and discarded.
“It has not caused any delay to the progress of the core strategy nor has it caused me to consider my position. There are many occasions when council decisions are not unanimous, but fortunately we live in a democracy which ensures that this is not only acceptable but also desirable.”
Meanwhile, Cllr Rolfe’s Lib Dem colleague in the Alveston ward, Cllr Ian Fradgley, told the Herald that while the council’s local plan was still not adopted the district was experiencing “a developer-led type of California Land Rush” on the edge of Stratford. He asked for South East Stratford to be removed from the options.
The one Labour member of the district council, Cllr Jeff Kenner (Shipston), this week repeated his allegations that the ruling Conservatives had turned the council into a dysfunctional planning authority.
He declared: “It has wasted nearly £500,000 on planning appeals, has fought a hopeless High Court battle over Shottery with the Secretary of State at huge expense to the council tax payer, and has been found to have ‘deliberately concealed’ a key document from a government planning inspector at a public inquiry.
“Now it is in chaos, having to tear up its draft core strategy for a second time and restart the consultation process.”
During the cabinet meeting Cllr Laura Steele, chairman of Forse—the pressure group fighting the GLH proposals—told councillors: “Back in 2013, GLH was put forward as the site to solve all the housing problems of the district, with four schools—including an academy—three community centres, employment land and multiple facilities and amenities besides.
“You are now proposing under 3,000 houses, with possibly no school at all, no jobs whatsoever and one centre if at all. This site is not sustainable at any level. We submit that, if this scheme had been produced back in July 2013 it wouldn’t have got off the ground.”
In a statement after Monday’s cabinet meeting Cllr Saint said: “I am advised that the potential changes to the core strategy are sufficiently significant to warrant a further six-week public consultation.We will assess the responses to this consultation alongside our updated evidence base in April with a view to presenting our proposed submission document for council approval in May.”
Cllr Saint said the intention was to formally submit the core strategy to the planning inspectorate in September.
The aim is to have the local plan adopted in June next year.
The overall figure of £170,000 in expenses also needs unpacking. Most people think of business expenses as person...
Although the government u-turned on their decision to ignore VC winners born abroad in September, there were concerns th...
They say there is an “appalling lack of information” handed out to users by energy suppliers, and three quar...