MARCH could be a key month in deciding the fate of a potential 3,000-home settlement near Gaydon.
Developers are looking to create a virtually new town despite strong opposition from residents and campaign group FORSE.
The so-called Gaydon Lighthorne Heath (GLH) development is central to Stratford District Council’s Core Strategy – which details where, when and how many new homes will be built in the district up to 2031. The public examination into the document ended last week.
Following its conclusion, planning inspector Peter Drew, who has been conducting the month-long examination, indicated he was hoping to produce an interim report into the ‘soundness’ of the Core Strategy by the middle of March.
It is also the same month developers plan to submit an official application to Stratford District Council.
As part of the examination, Mr Drew undertook a series of site visits to JLR, Aston Martin, areas of the potential GLH site and Chesterton Wood earlier this week.
And having previously raised concerns about insufficient public transport, road upgrades and potential noise from the nearby M40 during the last day of the examination, campaign group FORSE maintained centuries-old Chesterton Windmill could prove to be the ‘showstopper’ that puts paid to the council’s GLH plans.
More than 2,300 people have already signed the petition calling on Westminster politicians to save Chesterton Windmill.
And speaking to The Observer after the examination, FORSE chair Laura Steele said: ”If the policies set down by Government are followed correctly then Chesterton Windmill will be the Grade I heritage asset that stops GLH in its tracks.
“This is no ordinary windmill – this landmark has stood for 380 years and its environment is as important as its architecture.
“Should GLH go ahead that environment would be devastated. The first thing the eye would see approaching the windmill would be a sprawling new town rather than beautiful, open, rural landscape, and its principal vista would be destroyed forever more.”
“So what could justify it? Nothing. There are far more suitable and immediately available locations for housing in this district.”
But Stratford District Council dispute the impact it would have on teh windmill.
A spokesperson said: “The council acknowledges part of the development will be visible from Chesterton Windmill however the impact on views from the windmill is considered to be limited and will be mitigated by appropriate layout and landscaping.
“It is envisaged the new homes on those parts of the site visible from the windmill would be low density dwellings arranged on tree-lined streets.
“The M40 Warwick Services are much closer to the windmill so the new development will not inhibit its rural setting.”
The last day of the public examination saw the council put forward some modifications to the document – although no changes were made to the GLH proposals.
And after government planning inspector Pete Drew has released his interim report, he will decide whether further modifications need to be made before the Core Strategy can potentially be rubber-stamped later this year.