Thousands more homes could be built

By Harriet Ernstsons Friday 28 March 2014 Updated: 28/03 12:29

MORE of the borough could be concreted over after serious concerns were raised about the number of homes planned for the future.

An inspector has ordered Redditch Borough and Bromsgrove District Councils to urgently respond to a letter questioning the evidence used to decide how many properties will be built in both areas before 2030.

It comes after councils in the south of the county were forced to re-examine the South Worcestershire Development Plan, which could result in them adding thousands more homes to their original plans.

As the Standard reported this month, Redditch and Bromsgrove finally submitted their plans after a three-month delay so they could look again at their evidence, some of which was the same as that used in the SWDP.

But unlike in the south, they decided to keep the same numbers - a total of 6,400 homes for Redditch, 3,000 of which will be built over the border in Bromsgrove, and a further 7,000 for Bromsgrove.

If they are forced to resubmit the plans, it could mean both councils are asked to find extra land to site more homes, despite councillors and officers having previously raised concerns there is no space within Redditch for new development.

In the letter, sent on Wednesday (March 26), inspector Michael Hetherington said although he was at ‘an early stage’ in his preparatory work, he had identified a matter which potentially involved a ‘serious soundness concern’.

“It is unclear from the draft report how the updated evidence has affected the councils’ consideration of the objectively assessed housing needs within their respective areas.”

He has asked for urgent consideration and a written response to his statement, adding a meeting could be called to discuss the issue before the main hearings associated with approving the plans.

David Rose, chairman of Webheath Action Group, said: “There have been flaws before in the process that we have highlighted to the chief exec. It is not a great surprise the inspector has found flaws also.”

Robert McColl from Save Our Green added: “Many people in Winyates Green and Mappleborough Green have questioned the soundness of the plan, they weren’t surprised when the figures were actually questioned but were surprised when the plans were submitted with the same figures.

“The inspector clearly has serious concerns about this and we would welcome the council taking the opportunity to review the figures again.”

Ruth Bamford, the council’s head of planning and regeneration, said: “The inspector has asked us to clarify the evidence used to decide the overall numbers in the plan, and we will provide that clarification.”

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