September 5th, 2016

Council defends criticism housing target is too high

Council defends criticism housing target is too high Council defends criticism housing target is too high
Updated: 8:49 am, May 13, 2016

STRATFORD District Council has defended claims it over-estimated the number of homes needed to be built over the next 15 years.

CPRE Warwickshire believe the council’s target of building at least 14,485 homes by 2031 is too high.

The authority submitted its Core Strategy to the government in September 2014 and a public examination was carried out by planning inspector Pete Drew early last year.

A number of changes were made to the key planning document, which outlines where, when and how many houses will be built in the district by 2031, before it underwent a second public examination in January.

Following on from the examination, council chiefs came up with some final modifications they say are necessary to make the plan capable of adoption.

A six week public consultation period giving people the opportunity to comment on the changes came to an end on Thursday (May 12).

But CPRE say the council’s newly-revised housing target, which could end up being as high as 14,600, is damaging and based on figures that don’t add up.

The campaign group has consistently argued the Core Strategy should provide for no more than 8,000 houses and they say this is supported by a GL Hearn document issued by the council in summer 2015.

CPRE technical secretary, Mark Sullivan, said: “The modifications propose no less than 14,485 houses or 720 each year – this will have a terrible effect on the district and do much to destroy its rural character.

“Reducing the number to 8,000 houses in total makes possible the removal of the damaging plans for new settlements at Gaydon Lighthorne Heath and Long Marston Airfield as well as the 2,000 homes across the district’s local service villages.

“CPRE is calling for the examination to be reopened so these figures can be properly discussed, and communities who have not been aware of them can have their say.”

The campaign group maintain it is only if the council’s ‘exaggerated and unrealistic plans’ for large numbers of new jobs are used to forecast can the number of homes in the plan be calculated.

But if the number of jobs in the district stays the same, they claim the housing need falls.

Stratford District Council leader, Chris Saint, was quick to defend the figures.

He told The Observer: “CPRE made their representations over housing numbers to the inspector Pete Drew in the public examination in January 2016.

“His view is that CPRE figures do not represent a sound basis for our plan, so we shall adopt the figures produced by our consultants. It is vital we have the inspector’s endorsement of a sound plan.”

The council is aiming to have the document formally adopted by the summer.

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