Move could send plans back to drawing board

By Ian Dipple Friday 11 April 2014 Updated: 11/04 09:37

A KEY planning document setting out future housing development in Redditch could have to be torn up if councils are told to build more homes.

Coun Roger Hollingworth, outgoing leader of Bromsgrove District Council, said he believed any significant increase in the 6,400 homes planned for Redditch and the 7,000 earmarked for Bromsgrove in Local Plan 4, would require a re-think on the whole strategy.

The Standard reported two weeks ago how a planning inspector had questioned the evidence used to forecast the housing numbers needed in both areas up until 2030. The issue appears to revolve around population figures being based on electoral rolls rather than census data. A similar situation occurred with the submission of the South Worcestershire Development Plan which has resulted in an extra 5,000 homes being added to the 23,000 councils in the south of the county had already planned to build.

Malcolm Glainger, chairman of Bentley Area Action Group, said if a similar situation was repeated in Redditch it could add 1,000 new homes to the total.

“After five years of preparation and a further three months of re-evaluation, for the housing plans of Redditch and Bromsgrove to hit the buffers within days of submission, suggests either flawed expediency, or incompetence,” he said.

“A process which began with farce, when Redditch voted to reject its own proposals in March 2013, must now be in complete disarray.”

Of the 6,400 homes planned for Redditch, 2,800 are designated on land within Bromsgrove District Council’s area around Foxlyidate.

Coun Hollingworth said a substantial increase in housing numbers in the area would require major infrastructure development and in that case it would be worthwhile revisiting plans to build more towards Studley, although that is likely to be opposed by both villagers and Redditch Borough Council.

“If the numbers do increase significantly we would have to re-look at it and we would really push for the South East of Redditch because that’s where I wanted them to go in the first place but when we had the examination in public, the inspector spent six weeks looking at Redditch and Bromsgrove and he came back and said he agreed with me but unfortunately there was no infrastructure down there.”

But he added he was confident the numbers were robust as they had been taking advice from Keith Holland, a former senior inspector with the Planning Inspectorate and advisor to housing minister Nick Boles.

“I am confident in what we have put forward. We have done all the modelling and the evidence base is there as far as we are concerned.”

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