STRATFORD District Council’s ruling Cabinet has been slammed for making a last minute change to its house building target over the next 17 years.
Labour councillor Jeff Kenner hit out after it was revealed there would need to be a “modest upwards adjustment” from 10,800 to 11,300 homes to the figure in the authority’s Core Strategy.
The new target comes following a review by the council’s consultants Environmental Resource Management (ERM), which takes into account the latest available evidence regarding future housing requirements in the district.
But following the meeting on Monday (December 1), Coun Kenner criticised the council and its leader, Chris Saint for failing to act sooner.
He said: “In 2012 the inspector at the Shottery appeal decided the housing requirement was at least 11,000 homes over 20 years.
“Instead of quickly accepting that and adopting a robust and defendable Core Strategy, Coun Saint has repeatedly refused to face reality by issuing unrealistically low housing projections and delaying the whole process.
“As a direct result, the council has lost appeal after appeal racking up over £1million in legal costs to be met by the taxpayer and it has been forced to concede the housing requirement is more than 11,000 homes.
“It is a huge embarrassment for Coun Saint who is leading an increasing dysfunctional administration.”
But Coun Saint this week defended the move.
He maintained the adjustment was necessary to account for current rates of people moving into the district and insisted no new sites would need to be found for the additional homes.
He told The Observer: “ERM provide us with the expertise to assess our housing need and they have deduced the provision of homes needs to change.
“We shall be providing more jobs in the district for our residents and those moving into the district and ERM have calculated we shall need a further 25 homes a year to get the balance right.
“The change is to protect the timetable for adoption of the Core Strategy and is considered in the public interest.
“The revised housing numbers result from consideration of new evidence and address the claims of developers who want even more housing.
“Coun Kenner is upset as we are trying to keep the amount of new building in check when he appears to champion much more development.”