STRATFORD District Council’s bid to build for the future was dealt a further blow this week.
The authority submitted its Core Strategy to the government in September 2014 and a month-long public examination was carried out by planning inspector Pete Drew in January last year.
In his interim report Mr Drew advised the council to look again at the document, which led councillors to agree a number of changes – including an increase to the authority’s overall housing target.
The document, which outlines where, when and how many houses will be built in the district by 2031, was resubmitted in October and council chiefs had earmarked July of this year as a potential date to get it formally rubber stamped.
But speaking as he returned to continue the public examination this week, Mr Drew confirmed any major modifications, which came about as a result of this latest examination, would need to be subject to a six week period of consultation.
Only then would he release a further report based on feedback from the consultation and the findings of the examination.
The authority has previously been criticised for delaying the document’s adoption and following Mr Drew’s announcement this week, the council’s deadline is now likely to be extended to late summer – providing no major changes are required as a result of the public examination.
On the opening day, council chiefs also came under fire from developers, who said their target of building 14,480 homes in the district – around 720 per year – was too low.
They also argued the council had not made strong enough provisions to take some of neighbouring Coventry and Birmingham’s unmet housing need – a claim strongly refuted by planning policy manager Dave Nash.
Questions were raised over economic prosperity and whether there would be sufficient jobs in the right areas of the district to support the new homes.
And Laura Steele, chairwoman of FORSE – the campaign group fighting plans for 3,000 homes in Gaydon and Lighthorne Heath (GLH)- told the council they risked creating an ‘isolated’ commuter town as there were insufficient public transport measures in place, which would force people to travel to work using their cars.
As part of the plan, Stratford District Council is looking to build just over 8,000 homes in total at sites in Long Marston, Southam, GLH and three locations in Stratford.
Each of these sites will be individually scritinized during the course of the examination while the council’s process for choosing the sites is also set to go under the microscope in the coming week.