DELAYS in adopting a housing strategy for the district are having a damaging effect on the standard of new homes.
That is according to Liberal Democrat councillors who have raised concerns following a recent decision by a Planning Inspector in relation to six homes to be built at Shottery Hall.
When first approved by Stratford District Council in August last year, it was stipulated each property should meet ‘Level 4’ of the government’s ‘Code for Sustainable Homes’, which aims to reduce carbon emissions and promote higher standards of design.
But an appeal by developers against the condition was upheld in May. The Inspector ruled although the ‘Level 4’ requirement was included in the council’s draft Core Strategy, because the document has not been formally adopted, it would be unreasonable to demand it of new developments.
Liberal Democrat councillor, Jenny Fradgley, said: “Unfortunately this decision is likely to set a precedent for many of the planning applications still coming forward.
“It means that new houses are going to built that do not meet the best standards. I don’t believe that’s good for the new owners of the houses or for the environment.
“It just goes to show that the delays in bringing in the Core Strategy are having a much wider impact than was first thought, affecting not just where houses are being built, but also the quality and standard of the houses that are erected.”
Stratford District Council felt it would be inappropriate to comment while a consultation on the draft Core Strategy was on-going.
But MP Nadhim Zahwai has been given assurances the district’s Core Stratgey will carry weight in planning decisions before it is formally adopted.
The draft plan is currently the subject of a public consultation, after which it will be submitted to the Secretary of State for examination by a independent inspector. It is at this point the document will begin to be more influential.
In response to a question by Mr Zahawi, the Minister for Planning, Nick Boles, said: “We recently clarified in guidance, not least as a result of his interventions and advice, that once a plan has been submitted to the inspectorate for examination, it can carry material weight in any decision about planning applications, even before it has formally been found to be sound.”