STRATFORD District Council’s long battle to draw up a comprehensive plan for development could be nearing the finish line.
The authority submitted its Core Strategy to the government in September 2014 and a public examination was carried out by planning inspector Pete Drew in January last year.
A number of changes were made to the key planning document, which outlines where, when and how many houses will be built in the district by 2031, before a second public examination was undertaken at the start of this year.
Following on from the examination, council chiefs came up with some modifications they said were necessary to make the plan capable of adoption.
A six week public consultation on the modifications ended in mid-May and the comments were then forwarded to the inspector.
And this week he published his final report in which he ruled – subject to some further modifications being made – the document could officially be rubber-stamped by the council.
Mr Drew wrote: “The Stratford Core Strategy provides an appropriate basis for the planning of the district – providing a number of main modifications are made.
“Almost all of the recommended changes have been put forward by the council in response to matters discussed during the examination.
“I conclude that with the recommended modifications set out, the Stratford Core Strategy meets the criteria for soundness.”
The overall housing target currently stands at 14,600 homes – around 730 per year – and the authority has confirmed it has a range of sites that could be brought forward for development should the need arise.
Plans to build 2,300 homes in Gaydon and Lighthorne Heath, which have been long-fought by campaign group FORSE, and proposals for around 4,000 homes in total at sites on Long Marston Airfield, Bishopton Lane in Stratford, and Daventry Road in Southam are included in the document.
The council has also pledged to retain and support the enhancement of the established flying functions and aviation-related facilities at Wellesbourne Airfield and has been asked by Mr Drew to make provisions for employment land at Atherstone Airfield.
Both the authority and its leader, Chris Saint, have previously come under fire for delaying the document’s adoption.
But speaking this week, he said: “This is the most brilliant news I could have had for months.
“After a long, painstaking process the inspector has declared our plan sound.
“This is a vital component of us being able to get this crucial document adopted for the benefit of our whole district.
“There has been a lot of hard work gone into this.
“It’s not been an easy process – it’s been a big team job and I would like to thank everybody who has been involved in reaching this stage.
“We can’t breathe a sigh of relief just yet as there’s a lot still of work to be done but I’m obviously delighted to have got this far.”
The council is set to consider adopting the Core Strategy at special meetings on July 11.
If members back the move, there will then be a six week period where the document could be subject to legal challenge.