Councillor questions housing figure

By Harriet Ernstsons Friday 15 February 2013 Updated: 15/02 09:23

MORE than 50 residents staged a protest outside the Town Hall in a bid to stop proposals to build thousands of new homes in Foxlydiate and Webheath.

People voiced their opposition ahead of a meeting of Redditch Borough Council's executive committee on Tuesday (February 12) to decide to consult the public on the plans.

David Rose, chairman of the Webheath Action Group which organised the protest, said: "There are all sorts of issues that mean land at Webheath and Foxlydiate is certainly not sustainable."

During the meeting councillors approved a six week consultation from February 25 to April 8, on plans to build 3,400 homes in Foxlydiate and off Weights Lane in Bromsgrove district and another 3,000 homes in the borough itself by 2030. The council's Local Plan 4, also out for consultation, earmarks the Webheath Area of Development Restraint as a site for new homes.

But Coun Carole Gandy said she did not share the view of planners Redditch needed 6,400 more homes.

She added there was a piece of land - which she did not name - included in a previous plan which had not been included in the consultation and said the boundaries between certain areas could be altered to give more space on some sites.

"My concern about this is you can't say you're consulting with residents when there are no choices. All you're consulting on is whether a road might go here or how the road system might be," she said.

"The one bit of land which could have gone in [the consultation] which would have given choices has been taken out because Bromsgrove said they didn't want it put in there.

"If we could include that then that would take a significant number of the total number required with considerable less impact on residents.

"I do not think we are genuinely consulting with people in either Redditch or Bromsgrove if you don't include that site. Basically we are here to rubber stamp something already printed."

But Coun Greg Chance, deputy council leader, added councillors were voting to go out to consultation rather than deciding on which sites would be developed.

"What we we are putting out is officers' professional opinions otherwise we will be vulnerable to developers picking and choosing where they are going to put stuff and we will be spending our money in court fighting developers," he said.

"Eventually elected members will be involved in deciding but the process hasn't started yet. Our approach was to go on officers' advice and for all elected members to understand the logic behind that advice."

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