Campaigners are claiming that a proposed country park south of Leamington, which is meant to act as a buffer zone against thousands of new homes, is being compromised to fit in more houses.
As part of Warwick District Council’s (WDC) Local Plan, a country park (called the Tach Brook Country Park) was promised in between the many housing developments, to provide a clear separation between the urban area (south Leamington) and Bishop’s Tachbrook.
But now villagers in Bishop’s Tachbrook claim that developers AC Lloyd and WDC have ‘reneged’ on the original plans by moving a proposed new school to land intended for the country park to make way for 150 new houses.
Both the developers and the district council deny these claims, saying that the park is being moved to a new location and its size will not change.
Villagers have launched a petition to scrap the additional 150 homes and reinstate the promised country park by building the school back in its original site closer to Harbury Lane. In just one day the petition has received nearly 300 signatures (see www.bit.ly/BTachPetition).
Parish councillor Ray Bullen, speaking on a personal capacity and not on behalf of the parish council, said: “We accepted the 5,050 new homes being built within and close to our parish boundary because we were promised a country park that would preserve the rural nature of our village and protect green space that everyone enjoys. We are not prepared to accept any further destruction of our village and its countryside.
“In 2017 when the Local Plan was devised, the inspector deliberately made provision for us to keep our green space. The district council and AC Lloyd seem to be ignoring the Local Plan without any justification or reason - the number of planning permissions for dwellings already exceeds the Local Plan provision of 16,776 by well over 2,000.
“AC Lloyd can’t be allowed to get away with this. The villagers who know about the revised plans are devastated, but the problem is that most people are unaware of it all.”
Matthew Greene, chairman of the Bishop’s Tachbrook Parish Council, told the Courier and Weekly News that Cllr Bullen proposed a motion that the parish council should object to the application; however, this motion was not seconded nor supported by any other parish councillor. No parish councillor proposed a motion to support the planning application.
A spokesperson for Warwick District Council said: “The revised plans for the Tach Brook Country park which are being considered will enhance rather than compromise the green spaces around Bishop’s Tachbrook and create direct access to the new country park from the village as well as from the new housing off Harbury Lane.
“The original plans would mean at least a half-mile walk from the village to access the new park, however the new scheme now being considered will give direct green access from the edge of the village by the Leopard pub and will enable children and parents to walk or cycle to the new schools without having to go on the road.
“In addition to widening the accessibility the proposals for the country park will lengthen the area that will then be protected from other development.”
Des Wynne, managing director of AC Lloyd Strategic Land, said: “We have been involved in the Oakley Grove site for many years and the latest plans to create a community in this part of Leamington show no change to the overall size of the country park.
“We have moved the location of the country park closer to Bishop’s Tachbrook which will mean more villagers will live closer to the public open spaces. We believe having a dual use playing fields will be a significant benefit to the community as well as creating a secondary and primary school. The previous land allocation for a secondary school behind Myton School was considered too small to cope with the level of new housing growth and this new location, as well as providing more land for all the community facilities we have proposed, will reduce travelling time in relation to the new housing developments.
“The land was only ever offered on the basis that there would be approval for an additional 150 homes including 40 per cent affordable housing.”
Cllr Colin Hayfield, education and learning portfolio holder at Warwickshire County Council, said: “Warwickshire County Council is working with partners across the county to ensure all Warwickshire children can access good education provision in their local area.
“This proposal by A C Lloyd provides an excellent opportunity for new education provision in line with the development across the south of Leamington/ Warwick.
“The proposed site will allow WCC to deliver new education places to accommodate children from age 0 to 18 in a new all-through School, alongside early years provision, and resource provision for children with special education needs on site to meet the increasing demand for school places in the area.
“In addition this site allows those new facilities to be integrated with the proposed country park providing safe walking/ cycle routes to the schools and shared facilities for wider community use.”