An unexpected “shock” has hit Wellesbourne this week as a new idea has been mooted to build 1,600 new homes on green belt land now occupied by the village’s airfield.
Following a consultation that ended last Friday on its ‘Core Strategy’ to build 10,800 new homes across Stratford district by 2031, the district council has announced that it is looking into a plan put forward by respondents to build on the airfield - a former Royal Air Force station which is now used for private flights, pleasure flights, aviation lessons, air shows and the popular Wellesbourne market every Saturday and on bank holiday Mondays.
More than 3,000 people responded to the consultation, most of whom were responding to the council’s main earmarked sites at Gaydon, Long Marston airfield, land to the south east of Stratford and to the north of Southam.
But suggestions for alternative sites were also included - and the council says the most favoured by respondents was the idea of building on Wellesbourne airfield, where, should the plan go ahead, a primary school and medical centre would also be built.
Council leader Cllr Chris Saint said: “We are aware of new sites that have come forward as part of this consultation and they will be considered by the planning policy team. In the meantime, we will push ahead with our published timetable.”
But Wellesbourne parish council chairman Cllr David Close said the parish council had not been made aware of the idea of building on the airfield until last Thursday - one day before the consultation ended.
He said: “Now the consultation has finished. This has taken us by surprise.
“We held an extraordinary parish council meeting at the beginning of the month to address the issue of there being so much housing earmarked for Wellesbourne and the district council’s chief executive came to listen to our concerns. So yes, this is a shock.
“Only last year the parish council resolved that it wished to keep the status of a village. Such a proposal would make Wellesbourne, with its limited infrastructure, a town second only to Stratford as being the largest settlement in Stratford district.”
He added: “The airfield and the market would have to close.”
Debates are ongoing over the hotly contested site between Gaydon and Lighthorne where proposals have been put forward to build a 3,000-home village.
Meanwhile, alongside the Wellesbourne Airfield alternative option being put forward are other large-scale alternatives, including up to 675 homes next to the Dallas Burston Polo Grounds at Stoneythorpe, west of Southam.
Council officials have stated that any new site would have to be “so demonstrably better” than anything else previously considered that it would be unreasonable to ignore it.
Investigations into the suggested sites have now begun. To find out more, visit www.stratford.gov.uk/planning/further-focused-consultation-2014.cfm