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Worcester can't be relegated to "dormitory status", says council leader
THE city council’s leader has fired a warning to meddling Brummie planning chiefs - saying he will not allow Worcester to be relegated to “dormitory status”.
As your Worcester News revealed on Saturday, councils in Birmingham and the Black Country claim it will bring too much prosperity to this county, threatening their own towns and cities.
The stance has already been labelled “outrageous” by Worcester MP Robin Walker - and now Coun Gregson says he wants them to leave it alone.
“The existing plan has been put together over a number of years and a phenomenal amount of work has gone into it,” he said.
“It’s got a very sound evidential basis to it and the bottom line is we need new jobs, new housing and the infrastructure to go with it.
“As with any plan of this size, when we’re trying to plan a future south Worcestershire economy it’s important we negotiate with our neighbours.
“But any growth we get here, as long as we get the infrastructure to go with it, will benefit that wider region.
“I don’t want it to create dormitory status for Worcester - we need to create local jobs for local people so they can work here, live here and spend their money in the county.”
One of the politicians involved in the creation of the SWDP, meanwhile, has echoed the criticism by labelling it “nonsense”.
Coun Marc Bayliss, Conservative deputy group leader in Worcester, sat on a committee which oversaw the plan’s creation.
He said: “I think it’s nonsense - what Birmingham and the Black Country are saying is ‘you take the houses and we’ll take the jobs and economic wealth’.
“It’s not sustainable, economically or environmentally - the plan strikes the right balance between houses and jobs so I hope the inspector supports it.
“I understand why they got involved but I don’t agree with them - the challenge to Birmingham and the Black Country is, you make your own patches attractive to businesses."
The SWDP earmarks land for 25,000 jobs and 23,000 homes by 2030, and has been backed by councils in Worcester, Wychavon and Malvern.
Government inspector Roger Clews has just completed a four-day open examination into the blueprint, which invited views from interested parties.
As part of the examination planning officers from Birmingham and the Black Country visited him last week to argue the employment land should be cut short.
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