Call to take part in consultation or risk consequences

CONSULTATION on future housebuilding sites must be genuine, but residents should be warned of the consequences of simply opposing development.

This was the view of Warwick district councillors when they discussed outline plans for land us in the area until 2026.

Up to 2,700 homes are proposed in ‘garden suburbs’ on land between south Leamington and Warwick, and almost 2,000 on current green belt in Blackdown and Old Milverton.

The council voted unanimously on Monday to allow its executive committtee, which met immediately afterwards, to put the report to consultation.

Cllr Bill Gifford (Lib Dem, Leamington Milverton) said: “It’s absolutely vital that this consultation is seen and known to be genuine.”

Labour group leader Cllr John Barrott (Willes) said residents must understand the consequences if a planning inspector found the plan was not sound - that developers could build wherever they chose.

There were amendments. Burton Green has been added to the villages which it is proposed will find space for between 30 and 80 homes on brownfield and green belt land; the wording will also be changed for the plan to “make no provision” for high speed rail, rather than oppose it; and it emerged many had misunderstood ‘safeguarding’ pockets of green belt land as meaning that it would be protected from future development rather than being set aside for it.

Cllr Jerry Weber (Lab, Leamington Clarendon) questioned whether the ‘garden suburb’ approach would enable the council to meet its target of making 40 per cent of homes affordable.

Cllr Bernard Kirton insisted high numbers of homes were being forced on the council by the coalition, but Liberal Democrat group leader Cllr Alan Boad said the 10,800 was the council’s own figure. He argued it was was possible to create ‘garden suburbs’ for people with lower income, adding there could be no delay getting a plan in place, but that some communities would have to compromise.

Cllr Alan Rhead (Con, Budbrooke) said people should be aware of the facts and not “emotional baggage”. But not all were so forthright. Cllr John Hammon, whose Cubbington ward includes Blackdown and Old Milverton, expressed reservations about building on “previously sacrosanct” green belt between Leamington and Kenilworth.

Council leader Cllr Michael Doody said it would be “totally unreasonable” to cluster all new houses outside green belt, adding that roads and other infrastructure should be put in as far ahead of new developments as possible.