An early attempt to ensure green belt land to the north of Leamington is preserved in light of additional housing for the Local Plan has been rejected.
Warwick District Council met on Tuesday and voted in favour of asking for a planning inspector to suspend his examination of the plan, which will now be required to find sites for an additional 7,000 houses across the area by 2031 on top of the 12,900 originally proposed to be built by 2029 due to an overspill from Coventry.
And, concerned about where the extra number of houses will go, and that new councillors who have only been members since the May election might not be aware of the need to protect this land, Cllr Alan Boad (Lib Dem, Leamington Crown) proposed two amendments to the agenda item - one of which was for the council not build more on green belt land north of Leamington.
The other was for the council leader Cllr Andrew Mobbs (Con, Kenilworth Park Hill)and development services portfolio holder Cllr Stephen Cross (Con, Woodloes) to work with neighbouring district and borough councils on an option for a new ‘garden settlement’ with good transport links to Coventry.
Cllr Boad said: “This council has always said that we expect and want to preserve Warwick district. Having seen the numbers coming towards us it is important to underline the fact that we don’t want an urban sprawl. We don’t want to connect Bishops Tachbrook to Leamington and Warwick and all the other surrounding areas together to create one enormous mass.
“We’re looking at numbers which make up half the size of Kenilworth or more and we can understand why we have to take some of Coventry’s overspill - I’m quite satisfied with the findings.
“But my concern is, that with the numbers we are talking about, tacking them on anywhere will not help our district to be a nice place to live and the district will just become a sprawl.
“The opportunity should be taken at this juncture to look at a settlement which can be grown from something we have already got and turn it into a town, or we create a new one. We need to look at a solution which is achievable and takes the hit really quickly otherwise there is a risk that the inspector will throw the plan out.”
Cllr Mobbs said he and all councillors shared the sentiment of ‘caring about the district’ but rejected the suggestion the houses would be ‘tacked on anywhere’.
He added: “There is a section on coalescence within the Local Plan documents and with regards to the ‘garden settlement’, it would be a major change to the plan and we would therefore have to start again.
“Therefore, councillors, I urge you to absolutely reject these amendments. We are tonight discussing our attempt to achieve a suspension of the plan and are not talking about any changes to the plan at this stage.”
Councillors Judith Falp (Ind, Whitnash) and Moira-Ann Grainger (Con, Warwick North) also objected, saying it would not be fair to ensure land in north Leamington was protected while their wards are already taking the lion’s share of housing.