A STINGING attack has been launched on the state of the planning process in Warwick district.
The Leamington Society has accused Warwick District Council of failing residents by dragging its heels over settling the Local Plan – the long term document governing where and how many new homes should be built in the district – which has left the door open to developers to push through plans for large and often controversial housing developments.
The Society says the council has also failed to demonstrate a five year supply of housing land – the amount which must be available for building new homes – which has also left developers free to fire in planning applications.
And the council has also been accused of not taking into account the latest future population projections for the district which the Society says point to fewer new homes needed than around the 700 the council is looking to see built annually over the next 15 years.
Leamington Society committee member Archie Pitts said: “As long as we do not have an approved Local Plan in place our planning committee is powerless to refuse applications – the committee is told that any application it dares to refuse would be lost at appeal.
“This is why so many large applications have been approved recently. The developers have the whip‐hand.
“No wonder many people in Warwick district are furious. Sadly the majority do not appreciate the enormity of the implications of the current planning applications being granted. Or perhaps they feel resigned to ever increasing road congestion and pollution and to the consequential council tax increases to meet the supporting infrastructure costs not met from these developments.”
And Society chairman Richard Ashworth fears by the time the Local Plan is examined by an inspector – possibly next spring – the large controversial applications would all be through and would simply be rubber-stamped.
But district council leader Coun Andrew Mobbs defended the authority’s planning process.
He told The Observer: “I have every confidence in the process we are following and the work of officers at Warwick District Council.
“It is true we have not yet reached a five year housing supply figure but we expect to achieve this early in 2015.
“I cannot stress enough how important it is we have a well thought through and robust Local Plan, and I am committed to defending unwanted development, and it is only through a sound Local Plan we can achieve this.”