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Councillor’s plea to developers to build homes in south Warwickshire that local people need

By Andy Mitchell, Local Democracy Reporter

ONE of the most senior figures on Stratford-on-Avon District Council has expressed concern that the results of local housing need surveys are being ignored.

Cabinet member Councillor David Curtis (Lib Dem, Stratford Shottery), portfolio holder for resources, was the only member of the district’s planning committee to vote against an application to build a new four-bedroom house in the garden of an existing property in Welford-on-Avon.

The other nine councillors backed proposals for the plans at Hillcrest, Binton Road, Welford-on-Avon, where another home has already been added to the original house – this third home will sit between the existing two.

Housing need surveys are undertaken to identify whether extra homes are required to directly support the needs of a local area and, if so, the type and mix of housing that may be appropriate.

Are developers ignoring the needs of local communities Photo: iStock
Are developers ignoring the needs of local communities Photo: iStock

Welford-on-Avon’s survey was conducted in 2019, highlighting the need for small maisonettes and bungalows, and Cllr Curtis was perplexed by the limited weight given to that assessment.

“Here we have a housing need survey which identifies the need for two-bedroom bungalows, not a four-bed dwelling,” he said.

“It really does concern me, and I say this on many occasions. On the previous application (rejected plans for a self-build home in the village of Ullenhall), there was no housing need survey so it was felt there was no evidence for what was required.

“Here we have the housing need survey and we appear to be ignoring its conclusions.

“What concerns me is if we do not give due weight to local housing need surveys, people will wonder what is the point in undertaking them and all the work that is required.”

Welford-on-Avon Parish Council objected on the grounds that it was not an appropriate location for a new home and would amount to overdevelopment of the site. It was also argued that a 30 per cent growth in local housing in recent years was “not sustainable”.

A report authored by planning officer Emma Booker said that despite objections, “the impact of a new dwelling to the rear of Hillcrest would have an acceptable impact on the distinctiveness and character of the area and would not result in harm from an amenity, highway safety, ecological, archaeological or landscape perspective”.

Cllr Daren Pemberton (Con, Bidford East) sympathised with Cllr Curtis’s position but felt his hands were tied.

“Like many members of the committee, I share some of the challenges that Welford finds itself with, which are reflected in other communities as well,” he said.

“Welford has a particular issue in that large-scale properties are being brought forward because they ‘fit’ Welford if you will. There is no real desire on the part of any developer to address the results of the housing need survey around bungalows.

“It is regrettable that there are no real planning grounds substantive enough to warrant overturning the officer’s position.”

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