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Wychavon boss says planning inspector is riding rougshod over local councillors
THE leader of Wychavon District Council has voiced his dismay over Worcestershire’s growth blueprint twist - saying “one civil servant” is riding roughshod over 100 councillors.
As your Worcester News reported on yesterday, a Government inspector says the 23,200 properties earmarked by 2030 in the plan is not enough.
Three district councils in Worcester, Malvern and Wychavon have been told to come back with a higher figure, which could go up by 9,000.
Coun Middlebrough said: “This will drag on for a bit because we’ve got to work the numbers through again using a new methodology.
“The first thing we need to do is agree that methodology before the number crunching starts, so it will take time.
“What is happening, basically, is that the views of 100 or so councillors are effectively being questioned by one civil servant.
“It’s disappointing - for me it shows how the whole planning structure in this country needs to be changed.
“We had hoped that with the planning reforms (under the Coalition Government) the system would get easier, but what’s happened is the exact opposite.”
Roger Clews, the inspector presiding over the blueprint, says the councils are guilty of “fundamental shortcomings” in not planning for more homes.
His report suggests figures of 34,000 or 36,000 properties, both of which have been suggested by developers, would be too high.
But his conclusions say an increase must be decided upon, and although he sits on the fence in terms of which way to go, figures of 25,300 to 32,000 are both mentioned.
Yesterday some politicians leading the plan said they were relieved Mr Clews did not agree with the building industry on some of the “more extreme” figures.
Councillor Judy Pearce, who chairs the South Worcestershire Joint Advisory Panel, said: “There has been pressure from some developers for higher numbers of homes and we’re relieved the inspector has not accepted some of the more extreme suggestions.”
Mr Clews has backed the 280 hectares of employment land cited in the plan, but wants the towns outside of Worcester to reduce the land eamarked for retail.
The SWDP has cost at least £500,000 to put together so far, but cannot be adopted unless the councils agree a new homes tally.
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