THE PLANNED Long Marston Garden Village could see the district leading the country in creating new communities according to MP Nadhim Zahawi – but many of his constituents remain unhappy.
Work is set to start in the next few weeks on the first 400 homes – with 3,500 planned in total – after land for the first phase of the site was sold to developer Cala Homes. Phase one will take around six years to build, and as well as the homes, will include a village hub with community centre and shops, open space, such as play areas and sports pitches, and employment land
Garden villages are designed to be distinct communities with their own facilities rather than extensions to existing urban areas and Mr Zahawi believes they present areas with the chance to create special communities.
He said: “By their nature, garden villages are a real opportunity for developers and local authorities to create sustainable and attractive communities with the highest levels of design because they are starting with a blank canvas, and that is certainly the expectation for Long Marston.
“I have followed the progress of the Long Marston Garden Village scheme closely and have supported a number of bids made by Stratford District Council for central government funding.
“It will be fascinating to see how it develops and the benefits it brings.”
Jonathan Thompson, of Jonathan Thompson Land and Consultancy Limited who acts on behalf of the landowners, said the Long Marston scheme would be keenly followed around the UK.
He added: “It’s excellent that we have reached a position where work can begin on what will be one of the first garden villages in the UK and will also be a key regional development for the wider economy.
But not everyone has welcomed the garden village plans at Long Marston.
Many have raised concern over the impact on surrounding roads. Late long-time Welford councillor Peter Barnes was a strong critic of the plans, and the proposed South Western Relief Road, linked to the garden village application, has been met by fierce opposition from many residents.
The district council has yet to approve the controversial road plans which has received more than 1,000 objections. Warwickshire County Council is also awaiting a decision on a government bid for a further £86million to cover the rocketing costs which have spiralled since an initial estimate of £30million.
Stratford Residents Action group is leading a campaign against the road, which would run from near Orchard Hill Farm on Shipston Road to Luddington Road, close to the racecourse, and include a flyover.
The group argues – as identified in a report commissioned by Warwickshire County Council last spring – 3,500 new homes would mean the proposed road would only have capacity for a further 500 homes.
Spokeswoman Marion Homer said: “Cala and the district council plan to build a road, using in excess of £85 million of taxpayers’ money, that will pretty much have reached capacity as soon as the tarmac is laid. We have always said that this road would cause a huge amount of destruction with relatively limited benefit.
“When will our MP Nadhim Zahawi take ownership of this disastrous bid for central government funds? When will Cala respond to the 1000+ objections that the planning application received? When will Stratford District Council explain how this road fits in with their supposed climate action credentials? And when will all those who are elected to work on our behalf provide a road solution that properly directs traffic away from Stratford, that has a proper shelf life and in a location which avoids the need for a monstrous concrete flyover with all the increased visual, noise and air pollution which comes with that?”