Village left at mercy of developers claim councillors

By Ian Dipple Friday 31 January 2014 Updated: 31/01 10:02

COUNCILLORS claim Studley is under attack from developers because of delays implementing a key planning document.

Councillors Hazel Wright and Paul Beaman say there is growing concern about the vulnerability of the village to inappropriate building because Stratford District Council has yet to approve its core strategy which sets out where housing and employment will be provided over the next 20 years.

The document was due to be adopted, giving planners more control when considering applications, in December 2012 but was delayed until May last year before being further pushed back to November.

But as a result of a number of changes needing to be made to the plan, it now will not be submitted until September and come into force in April, 2015 as the council has to make a number of changes.

The predicted number of new homes for the district has increased from 9,500 to 10,800 and the plan will now run until 2031, three years later than planned.

To meet the higher housing figures the council is looking at creating a new settlement of 2,300 homes at either South East Stratford, Long Marston Airfield, Southam North and Lower Farm in Stoneythorpe or Gaydon/Lighthorne Heath. The alternative would be to spread them around the district which could mean more homes for Alcester and Studley.

The changes are so significant a new period of public consultation begins today (Friday) and runs until Friday, March 14. The revised plan is expected to be presented to councillors in May.

Coun Wright said the Liberal Democrat group had seen the problem coming in 2011 and asked for extra resources to be put in to speed up the process but had been rejected by the Conservatives. She added the plan had seen more changes than a ‘pantomime dame’ with costs spiralling with £572,500 having been spent on outside consultants so far and up to another £150,000 potentially needed.

She added appeals against planning decisions were rocketing which had cost the council £489,000 in 2013/14 alone.

Coun Beaman added: “Unfortunately Studley is now under attack from developers. Myself and Hazel will do our best to defend the principles we were elected on but we are concerned about the weak position Stratford-on-Avon District Council is in.”

But council leader Chris Saint said the changes were the result of advice from the Government and Planning Inspectorate while he insisted the 2006 core strategy was still relevant and he was working with officers to prevent a ‘glut of unsustainable housing in the district’.

“Compiling such an important document as the core strategy, and as a resulting setting out proposals that balance the need for economic growth and housing provision with the wish to protect and enhance the environment, is a mammoth task and is more a marathon than a sprint.

“It’s vitally important we get this right for the future of the district.”

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