CAMPAIGNERS battling plans to build up to 3,400 new homes in their area say they have been left stunned by a proposal from Redditch borough council which would see a decision on the plan delayed until at least early 2017.
The bitterly fought over proposal went before planning inspector Simon Hetherington who raised a number of concerns over the way in which the council had reached its decision to build on the land by Webheath and stretching up to the village of Bentley in Bromsgrove district.
Mr Hetherington suggested that both Redditch and Bromsgrove councils might like to consider withdrawing the plans to carry out a comprehensive Green Belt review, or that they address his concerns ‘in the context of the present examinations’.
The Webheath Action Group (WAG), which is opposing the plans, had expected the authority to bring the matter back to Mr Hetherington within six to eight months, not 18 months.
“I can’t fathom it really,” said David Rose, chairman of WAG, “if so much was wrong with the original plans that they need to do this level of remedial work, why haven’t they started again? It will be fascinating to see Mr Hetherington’s reply.”
However one concern is that if the project, part of the borough’s official Local Plan, is withdrawn it might open the way to piecemeal planning applications from developers.
Malcolm Glainger, chairman of the Bentley Area Action Group said: “The Planning Inspector is being urged by the Councils, in the interests of pragmatism, to accept their proposals in the light of Government pressure to get Local Plans in place by early 2017. Let that not be a reason to stand on its head conventional wisdom that ‘no plan is better than a bad plan’.”
Council spokesperson said: “At the moment nothing is set in stone. We have written to the Inspector and are waiting to hear his views on our proposed timetable.”