STRATFORD District Council has been criticised by a planning inspector for unnecessarily taking an application to appeal.
Charles Church Developments submitted a bid to build 28 homes in Hampton Lucy back in December last year.
But having being deferred on two separate occasions – and scaled back to 25 homes – members of the authority voted against officers’ advice and refused the application in March owing to concerns about the scale of the plans, the strain the development would place on local services, and the threat to the character of the village, which has less than 200 homes.
Developers appealed earlier this year and Government Planning Inspector Karen Barber opted to overturn the decision.
Although she admitted the proposal would involve the loss of agricultural land, she said the proposed development would not harm the character of Hampton Lucy.
She also insisted a shortfall in the council’s housing land supply meant the village had the potential to accommodate between ten and 25 homes and the appeal site off Stratford Road was the best location for this development.
She hit out at Stratford District Council in her report published last week.
“In my opinion, the failure of the council to produce evidence to substantiate each reason for refusal on appeal represents unreasonable behaviour,” she said.
“This unreasonable behaviour has resulted in the appellants incurring wasted expense in the appeal process, as it should not have been necessary for this matter to be determined by a Planning Inspector.”
A district council spokeswoman confirmed the authority was considering legal advice on the matter and would not be able to comment further.
But in a twist, a decision to block plans for a retirement home, which could have seriously harmed the character of Alcester was successfully upheld on appeal this week.
The proposed development by Churchill Retirement Living would have seen 36 sheltered apartments for the elderly built on Priory Road – replacing three homes.
The application was initially opposed by Alcester town councillors and rejected by Stratford District Council due to the number of Georgian grade II listed homes and a 14th century house that would be destroyed as part of the plans.
The applicants appealed in July arguing the building would respect the character of neighbouring properties.
But planning inspector Frances Mahoney rejected their appeal saying the building would be out of scale with the general surroundings, diminish the character and integrity of heritage assets and create a ‘real and serious harm’ to Alcester.