By Harriet Ernstsons Tuesday 10 September 2013 Updated: 11/09 12:50
THE FORMER council leader has apologised to residents for being unable to stop plans for future house building in the town being passed.
Coun Carole Gandy addressed campaigners gathered at Redditch Borough Council's meeting on Monday (September 9) in a last-ditch attempt to fight the local plan, which sets out where development should take place before 2030 including up to 600 homes in Webheath - which has been fiercely opposed by Webheath Action Group.
She said: "I would like to apologise for all those people in Webheath who are affected by the plan and to a lesser extent the people in Headless Cross. I and my colleagues can't stop it and I'm really sorry about that."
Coun Gandy hit out at the controlling Labour party for the inclusion of the district rather than Bordesley as a key location for building in the plan which in total sites 3,000 homes in Redditch, with Bromsgrove asked to make space for a further 3,400 for residents.
She also accused her opposition of going against their pledge to carefully consider the views of residents following a consultation period earlier this year.
"You have slavishly followed the views of officers. How can residents trust elected members if they do not appear to think for themselves or take account of residents' views?"
The Conservative group voted not to approve the plans but were outvoted by Labour, meaning there will now be a period where residents can highlight any flaws with the process before the document is sent to the Government's planning inspectorate for scrutiny. Concerns were raised about the need for 6,400 homes in total, the separation of employment and housing areas and the lack of resident knowledge about certain aspects of the plan such as building in Winyates Green.
Slamming the proposals as 'shambolic', group leader Juliet Brunner said she had 'grave concerns' about the impact of the plans.
"The local plan mentions the most important influence is what local communities say. They are clearly saying it isn't fit for purpose, we are their elected representatives and we cannot ignore what they are saying.
"There comes a time when we as a council need to be brave and say enough is enough and accept we are not able to accommodate our children's grandchildren.
"We need to protect what we have otherwise this beautiful town in the forest will become a suburb of Bromsgrove and Stratford with no greenbelt to protect us."
But Coun Greg Chance, responsible for planning, said: "The reason we need a sound local plan is without one it would be a free for all where developers could come along and choose where they wanted to develop. Ultimately the Government could come and impose one on us and it would cost us a fortune in court defending against developers.
"We need to have a sound and proper plan for the benefit of all of Redditch borough. We have followed statutory requirements and I would suggest we have gone out of our way to be as open as possible in giving people the opportunity to comment on the plan as it's developed."
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