THE BUILDING of a new town in South Warwickshire moved a step closer this week.
Reports to Stratford District Council indicate Gaydon and Lighthorne Heath (GLH) as the preferred single strategic site to meet the brunt of the district’s housing needs over the next 20 years.
Some 3,000 homes could be built at GLH – a large proportion of the proposed 10,800 homes that have to be built in the district by 2031.
Despite fierce opposition from Friends of a Rural and Sustainable Environment (FORSE) – the protest group set up to fight the plans – reports released on Wednesday (April 16) called the GLH site ‘deliverable and developable’ saying it was the ‘lower risk option.’
The reports – which take into account feedback from the public consultation as well as other evidence-based research – argue all five strategic options presented reasonable alternatives that were both viable and deliverable.
But it was claimed GLH is ‘unique’ in terms of its employment-related potential as there were plans for the neighbouring Jaguar Land Rover site to expand in the coming years.
The site at Long Marston Airfield – where 3,500 homes have potentially been earmarked – was ranked second-most preferable based on feedback from the public consultation carried out in February and March.
However, the reports highlight concerns over the provision of a new relief road – the deliverability of which could not currently be guaranteed.
The Southam North and Stoneythorpe site was ranked third, followed in fourth by spreading the new homes around the district, with the site in south east Stratford the least favoured among the public.
The reports stated there was no evidence to suggest new locations – including controversial plans for 1,600 homes on Wellebourne Airfield submitted on the last day of the consultation – presented a more sustainable option than those already put out to public consultation.
And although the reports argue each site could see homes built relatively quickly, it stated there were fewer short-term risks involved in the GLH option – with 460 homes proposed to be built by 2019, 2,500 homes before 2031 and a further 500 homes on the cards after 2031.
District council planning officers have not made any specific recommendation on a preferred site to the Cabinet, which will discuss the issues raised by the reports at a meeting on April 28.
The Cabinet will then choose one site and this recommendation will be put forward at a special Full Council meeting on May 12 when a final decision will be made on a site to be included in the proposed Submission Core Strategy.