Local Plan draft gets approval after years of planning and debate

Protestors against the Local Plan outside Leamington town hall.
Protestors against the Local Plan outside Leamington town hall.

It was described as the ‘most difficult’ political decision they would have to make.

But on Wednesday evening a majority of Warwick district councillors voted to approve the publication of the Draft Local Plan, which - under Government directive - aims to provide 12,900 new homes across the area.

Taking into account back dated housing developments and planning applications from 2011, the council will now need to provide 6.400 new homes between now and 2029 with the majority - 2,700 - set to be built to the south of Warwick and Leamington.

Speaking at the meeting at Leamington town hall, council leader Andrew Mobbs (Con, Kenilworth Park Hill) said: “Yes, I am leader of the council and as such have a responsibility to steer us through difficult decisions but I am also a resident of this district and have been for some 50 years.

“A resident that does appreciate fully the wonderful area that we all benefit from.

“A resident that does appreciate our heritage, our towns, education and our green space.

“But a resident who appreciates the bigger picture that if we do not secure our plan that we will be at serious risk from uncontrolled development.

“A resident that appreciates that we do need housing for those who require it now and for our children in the future.

“We cannot turn the clock back. We have to embrace the situation we are in and to make our plan give the district positive benefits.

“To secure affordable housing, to secure employment land and in turn jobs, to provide education facilities and to ensure that our town centres and local economy prosper.”

Under the plan, the area around Harbury and Bishops Tachbrook, south of Whitnash, would get about 830 houses while 300 are planned for Lillington.

Protestors, more than 100 of whom gathered with placards outside the town hall before the meeting and councillors, who represent the wards most affected by the plan, have questioned whether the infrastructure will be in place to support the additional houses in their areas and have raised concerns about loss of green space, traffic congestion and the effect on air quality caused by this.

Cllr Bob Dhillon, (Con, Warwick West) was particularly scathing of the document, saying the housing numbers were ‘excessive’ and that the plan was based on assumptions. He said: “The strategy is incomplete and inconclusive. Not enough has been spent on getting the infrastructure right.”

Cllr Judith Falp (Ind, Whitnash) said: “This plan is not sound because there are too many questions still to be answered. It does however fit our revised vision statement which if this plan is implemented will now be.

“Warwick district: no longer a great place to live, work and visit.”

Cllr Michael Doody (Con, Radford Semele) warned that if the draft plan was not approved it could be left to developers to build where and how they pleased throughout the district.

He said: “We need this Local Plan badly. It is not ideal but if we don’t get it through tonight we will suffer the consequences.”

The six-week public consultation for the draft starts in the week commencing May 12.