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2nd Jul, 2022

New town call-in rejection a 'sad day' say campaigners

PROTESTORS have been left ‘downhearted but not defeated’ after the Secretary of State refused to call in plans to build a new town between Gaydon and Lighthorne Heath.

Councillors on Stratford District Council’s planning committee recently voted in favour of building 1,000 homes off the Old Gated Road in Chesterton. Outline planning permission has also been granted to build an additional 2,000 houses on the land.

They make up a major part of the council’s core strategy to build 14,500 homes in the district over the next 15 years.

But Lighthorne Parish Council vehemently opposed the plans for the 1,000 houses and approached Communities Secretary Sajid Javid to call in the application.

Coun Laura Steele – who is also the chairwoman of campiagn group FORSE which has also fought the plans from the start – emailed the Secretary with her concerns about the accuracy of an future traffic assessment, saying it could not be used for such large settlements.

But Mr Javid refused to call in the application, saying he believed it should be decided at local level.

Coun Steele told the Observer: “We are very disappointed by the secretary’s decision not to become involved. We felt that the potential impact of the traffic chaos upon Jaguar Land Rover and Aston Martin Lagonda’s operation would have made this a matter of national importance of itself.

“It is a sad day for the district that they have chosen to wreak such devastation on our historic villages by placing this new town in a politically desirable rather than sustainable location.

“We are downhearted but not defeated. We now have to strive for the best possible outcome for our communities.”

A spokeswoman for Mr Javid said he had been happy with the application.

She added: “The government remains committed to giving more power to councils and communities to make their own decisions on planning issues, and believe that planning decisions should be made at the local level wherever possible. The call-in policy makes it clear that the power to call in a case will only be used very selectively.”

And Stratford District Council welcomed Mr Javid’s decision.

A spokesperson said: “As the requested call-in has not been agreed by the Secretary of State, it would confirm that the Secretary is happy with the process the council has undertaken with the outline planning application and the adoption of the core strategy.”

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