THE FUTURE of Stratford district’s housing is one step closer to being finalised.
This week councillors approved the latest stage of the authority’s Core Strategy – including plans to build 3,000 homes at Gaydon Lighthorne Heath (GLH) and 3,500 homes on Long Marston Airfield.
The proposals form part of the authority’s response to planning inspector Peter Drew’s findings that the key planning document, which will help shape development in the district until 2031, was not sound.
In his interim report released in March, Mr Drew maintained the council’s previous housing target would almost certainly need to increase.
As a result members of the authority’s full council agreed to revise their target from 11,300 to 14,480 homes at a meeting on Monday (July 20).
And to help reach the new target, councillors have opted to look again at a site at Long Marston Airfield – previously rejected in favour of the GLH scheme – which, if given the go-ahead, would see some 2,100 homes built during the plan period.
They also backed proposals for 500 homes on land off Daventry Road in Southam and a further 450 homes on the edge of Stratford off Bishopton Lane.
Coun Robert Vaudry, in whose ward the Bishopton homes would be built, was unable to make the meeting but asked Lib Dem Peter Moorse to read out an email advising councillors to reject the proposals.
He argued Bishopton was a greenfield site and said development should be prioritised on brownfield locations.
But it was pointed out that brownfield sites take longer to prepare and the Bishopton scheme was necessary to allow the council to maintain its required five-year supply of housing land.
During the meeting, Stratford District Council’s planning policy manager Dave Nash also said if any site was removed from the draft strategy it would have to be replaced, which could delay the process by at least another three months.
And although some councillors opted to vote against certain elements of the revised strategy, it was not in sufficient numbers – meaning the plans for GLH, Long Marston, Southam and Bishopton will now go forward for consultation along with the increased housing target.
Campaign group FORSE have long argued the GLH scheme is not practical and following the meeting FORSE chair Laura Steele insisted the group would continue its fight, warning: “The battle isn’t over yet – not by a long chalk.”
Coun Chris Saint, leader of Stratford District Council, said: “The planning inspector gave us clear guidance about the work to be undertaken to make our plan sound.
“We have identified a clear way forward, in terms of the scale of the housing development needed to support the creation of new jobs locally and the preferred options for accommodating this.”
Further work will be completed before the revised document is sent out for a period of public consultation.