Warwick’s 1,100 anniversary is being used by opponents of the Draft Local Plan to draw a parallel between the district council trying to seize green fields for more housing and the threatened land grabs by the Vikings in 914.
Today (Friday), as the plan goes to the next level of consultation, members of a variety of protest groups - including Save Warwick, the Warwick Society, Bishops Tachbrook Parish Council and the Leamington Society - are collectively preparing to submit a more 21st century analysis of what they see as a desperate situation.
Upping the rhetoric, the group went as far as saying that 1,100 years after Warwick fought off invaders, they now face another ‘invasion’ in the shape of thousands of new homes. They added: “Someone else wants our green and beautiful land: not, in 2014, to cultivate it, but to build on it. Instead of invaders come ‘in-migrants’, or rather the spectre of them.
“The council decided – on St George’s Day – to surrender the hinterland of Warwick to suburban development.”
Last month district councillors voted by 25 votes to 11 in favour of the development of 12,900 new homes in the district by 2029.
The Government-led directive for more homes is already well under way and it now only remains for agricultural and brownfield sites to be provided for another 6,400 more homes. The majority of these would be built on fields between Warwick, Leamington, Whitnash and Bishops Tachbrook.
From now until June 23 the Local Plan is being specifically considered for its “soundness and legality” ahead of a full public examination.
James Mackay, chairman of the Warwick Society, and Anthony King, who chairs Save Warwick, along with most councillors in Warwick and several in Whitnash, are all adamant that the district council has grossly exaggerated its housing need forecast for the next 15 years.
But leading district councillor Les Caborn (Con, Lapworth), who hopes the plan will be formally adopted by the Government next spring, is equally adamant that the protestors are being unrealistic. In a statement this week, Cllr Caborn said: “I believe this Draft Local Plan provides the framework for a prosperous and sustainable future for the district over the next 15 years. I believe it is a sound approach as it is based on extensive evidence and, at the same time, takes account of the views submitted through public consultations. I understand there will continue to be people who do not agree.”