STRATFORD District Council has defended accusations it withheld crucial information about controversial plans to build thousands of new homes in the district.
Members of the authority’s planning committee this week voted five to one in favour of granting permission for the 2,000-home development at Gaydon and Lighthorne Heath (GLH).
As part of its Core Strategy, the council is looking to build some 14,500 homes across the district by 2031 and the GLH proposals form a central part of the key planning document.
The plans have long been fought by campaign group FORSE, which previously argued the selection process used by the council to identify sites was flawed.
They also accused the council of ‘moving the goalposts’ to ensure the GLH homes were approved.
And following the decision to give the scheme the go-ahead, the group has hit out at the council once more.
They say manufacturer Jaguar Land Rover has not been properly consulted and argue an objection letter from its consultants was not fully read out at the lengthy planning meeting.
In it, there was a request for a meeting between JLR, the district council, and the county council among others – a request they say was not granted.
Arguing councillors had been misled, FORSE chairman Laura Steele called for the decision to be declared null and void.
She confirmed campaigners would also be lodging a formal complaint.
She said: “JLR formally requested they be consulted before SDC determined the application so for the council to arrogantly ignore that request amounts to a deliberate kick in the teeth.
“In its blind and ignorant determination to press ahead with GLH, SDC has upset a company, which has repeatedly warned it will take jobs and business elsewhere if it is not properly treated.
“Even if the vote is rescinded, the council may bitterly rue the disregard shown for JLR in their decision-making.”
Council leader Chris Saint insisted the authority was in a ‘constant dialogue’ with JLR and said a number of meetings had been, and continue to be, set up.
The development – which will be known as Kingston Grange – was agreed subject to final traffic works on the B4100 being brought back to committee for approval.
The council hope to build a total of 3,000 homes at the site.
Planning chairman, Coun Danny Kendall, insisted the committee had fully debated the application.
He added: “While approval has been given for the principle of this development to go forward, more detailed works must now begin to achieve a development that is sustainable in the future.
“This development forms a crucial element of our Core Strategy but has been approved on its own merits with all the evidence placed before committee.”
The authority is currently awaiting a report from government inspector Pete Drew, who will decide whether the Core Strategy can be officially rubber-stamped.
They are aiming to have the document formally adopted by the summer.