Homes plan in doubt after vote blunder

By Harriet Ernstsons Friday 22 February 2013 Updated: 22/02 10:05

PLANS to build thousands of houses in and around the borough over the next two decades are in disarray, after two Labour councillors left the room before a crucial vote.

Consultation was due to start on Monday (February 25) on the borough council's growth strategy which sets out where more than 6,000 homes should be placed in Redditch and over the border on Bromsgrove land up to 2030.

The move to consult the public should have been approved at a full council meeting on Monday (February 18). But the controlling Labour group had not realised two of their councillors were not in the room when the vote was taken, leaving them outvoted by the Conservatives 13 to 14.

Labour councillors looked shocked when they realised and asked for the vote to be retaken but were told legally they could not.

The consultation was supposed to be run jointly with Bromsgrove District Council which approved putting the plan to the public on Wednesday (February 20) but are unable to proceed without Redditch.

Bromsgrove councillors are sending a letter to Redditch Borough Council asking for its position to be reconsidered. They also agreed to defer the start of the consultation until April 1 to allow Redditch time to respond to the letter.

Coun Greg Chance, responsible for planning and regeneration on Redditch Borough Council, said: "We are currently considering our options and concerns around this decision."

But campaigner David Rose, chairman of the Webheath Action Group, has urged councillors to use the setback as an opportunity to reconsider the growth strategy.

"We would urge planners to revisit potential locations and present a new report recommending the Bordesley area for locating approximately 3,000 to 3,500 new dwellings where it is more sustainable."

Conservative Group leader Coun Carole Gandy added they opposed the strategy as they did not accept the number of houses being proposed were needed.

"The figure we are suggesting would not require any cross boundary building therefore we can't support a document going out to consultation if we don't actually support the principle," she said.

"We have got no problems with consulting residents on anything but we do not accept the need to do this consultation because we don't believe we need that number of houses."

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