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Votes will be lost after ‘breakdown’ in planning
RULES favouring the building of new housing estates could cost votes in the county council elections, a leading councillor fears.
Councillor Judy Pearce has warned that Conservative and Liberal Democrat candidates could suffer when voters go to the polls next year.
Both parties, nationally, make up the coalition government – although that relationship is not mirrored at Worcestershire County Council, which is Tory-led.
Mid-Worcestershire MP Peter Luff said the current rules have caused a “total breakdown of planning in Wychavon”.
Coun Pearce, a serving Conservative district councillor, elected head of planning and deputy leader of Wychavon District Council, said she fears fed-up voters in the rural “shires” such as those at Wychavon and Malvern Hills could see people ”voting with their feet” over the imposition of planning rules, which favour housebuilders.
Wychavon’s planning committee is preparing to discuss the results of planning appeal verdicts which have gone against the original decision.
Four applications have been allowed on appeal following inquiries by the planning inspectorate. They are:
- 44 homes off Station Road, Honeybourne.
- 46 homes between Dudley Road and Station Road, Honeybourne.
- 36 homes north of Broadway Road, Evesham.
- 36 homes behind Sunnyhill House, Stoke Road, at Wychbold, near Droitwich.
Refusal was upheld for 13 homes at Summerfield House in Church Road, Crowle near Worcester.
But Coun Pearce suggested the council “may as well just rip up all the [planning] rules” because of their lack of control.
“It is a horrendous situation – it’s almost unreal,” she said. “The Government are stuck in their Westminster bubble on this [issue].”
A government target, the five-year housing land supply, is allowing developers to overturn committee decisions which go against them.
One planning inspector’s estimate says Wychavon needs to grant permission for 475 homes a year to satisfy the supply target.
For each of the four applications allowed to go ahead, the main reason given is the “lack of a five-year housing land supply”.
The council has recently written to the Local Government Association for backing.
Mr Luff said: “At present we have a total breakdown of planning in Wychavon and this risks undermining decades of hard work.
“The damage done will be permanent – that is why we must move quickly to put a stop to this folly.”