20th Sep, 2020

Goalposts have moved: Battle over new homes Redditch no longer needs

Ross Crawford 28th Sep, 2018

“IT beggars belief” – that’s the verdict of Dave Rose, former chair of the Webheath Action Group (WAG).

WAG spent years battling plans to build 3,400 new homes between Foxlydiate and the village of Bentley.

Along the way they had support from local MPs Karen Lumley and Sajid Javid, now Home Secretary, only for the planning inspector to approve Redditch Borough Council’s Local Plan giving the green light to the development.

Now a review of housing projections by the Office for National Statistics estimates that Redditch’s housing requirement isn’t as high as originally projected.

It means years of fighting the plan by WAG and the millions spent by the local authority on defending it might not have needed to take place.

To make matters worse, because planning inspector Michael Hetherington has ruled on the plan, that decision cannot now be rescinded, so the development will go ahead.

“It’s astounding – you spend all those years, all that money wasted on barristers and consultants by the council. I can just feel the anger seething up inside me,” said Mr Rose, who moved from the Redditch area after the plan was approved.

The land in question actually sits in Bromsgrove District, but under a cross-border duty to co-operate, it was to be used to meet Redditch’s housing requirement.

“Under the original calculations Redditch had to provide 6,000 houses, however under the new method the figures are now considerably less,” said Redditch Borough Council Leader Councillor Matt Dormer (Con, West).

“However it does not say you can go back on the decisions you have already made.

“Believe me If I could pick it up and move it somewhere else I would, but my hands are tied.”

One concern is that, if Redditch no longer needs the land, it could be used to help meet Bromsgrove’s, which needs to build 7,000 new homes.

Bromsgrove District Council has just started a consultation on its district plan.

Coun Geoff Denaro, leader of the council, said: “As far as we’re concerned nothing has changed.

“It’s in Redditch’s Local Plan but it’s not in ours.

“For any changes it would have to come back as part of the review of the district plan and would then need to go out to the inspector.

“I can’t see anything happening at all for 12 to 15 months.”

A spokesperson for Redditch Borough Council said: “The latest Office for National Statistics household projections released this month are somewhat lower for Redditch than in recent years.

“However it is still unclear what the implications of this will be for the Government’s new standard methodology for calculating local housing need.

“In advance of this being confirmed Redditch will continue to plan for the housing requirement set out in its adopted Local Plan.”

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