A BLUEPRINT for future housebuilding in Redditch could have to be altered after serious concerns were raised about the selection of development sites.
The Planning Inspector was due to consider the proposal to build 3,400 of the new homes Redditch will need by 2030 on Bromsgrove District Council land around Foxlydiate, at a hearing on January 20 at the Town Hall.
But Redditch Borough Council has requested a delay until the Spring to give consultants more time to answer questions raised about the sustainability appraisal used to select land earmarked for new housing.
It follows objections raised by those opposed to development around the Webheath and Foxlydiate area and comments made by Planning Inspector Michael Hetherington there was ‘potentially a serious flaw’ in the production of the local plan.
His concerns included the fact the Webheath site was included in the version of Local Plan 4 submitted for scrutiny, yet had not been suitably tested against alternatives.
In particular questions have been raised about why the alternative option of developing Brockhill West, previously earmarked as a site for major development in earlier planning documents, was not chosen given it had a higher sustainability rating than Webheath.
He has also criticised a proposal to build east of Claybrook Drive, part of the A435 Area of Development Restraint, as it would damage the area’s character and reduce the natural boundary between Redditch and the village of Mappleborough Green.
The delay means the examination of both Redditch and Bromsgrove’s local plans cannot continue until the situation has been resolved as it could potentially mean planners have to revisit the allocation of the 6,400 new homes Redditch will need.
Ruth Bamford, head of planning for Redditch and Bromsgrove councils, said the delay was due to staff absences in the department which meant they would not have the necessary expertise to fully respond to issues raised at the planned examination in January.
“Therefore we are currently liaising with consultants on the costs and timings of additional work and expertise so we can move the process along as efficiently and effectively as we can.”
The delay is significant as it leaves Redditch vulnerable to speculative applications from developers as the National Planning Policy Framework – which favours sustainable development – will carry more weight until the plan is fully adopted.
Malcolm Glainger, from Bentley Action Group which is fighting the inclusion of building around Foxlydiate, said he hoped planners would revisit the site allocations.
“If there are flaws with your plan which are being expressed by others then you can’t plough on with set in stone, pre-dated ideas. You have to put your hands up and say ‘yes we have got it wrong, clearly there are flaws here and we need to start again with a clean sheet of paper’.”