Projections of growth are ‘gravely flawed’ in Warwick

The former stawberry field that is being required for housing.'MHLC-15-10-13 strawberry oct53
The former stawberry field that is being required for housing.'MHLC-15-10-13 strawberry oct53

Anthony King and David Williams - two of the key members of the Save Warwick group - would be among the first to admit the need for more affordable housing in the district.

They know nurses at Warwick hospital and young teachers in local schools are already driving into the town from Nuneaton and north Warwickshire where property prices are lower.

But it’s the ever-increasing number and green field locations of the proposed “garden suburbs” that is uniting opponents against the Local Plan.

The latest projections for growth in the district over the next 18 years have just risen from 12,300 to 12,900 - partly to take account of the need for more social housing.

Save Warwick chairman Mr King has welcomed council leader Andrew Mobbs’ promise to investigate more brownfield and canalside sites for future growth.

But he and Mr Williams, along with retired town planner and parish councillor Ray Bullen, are adamant that the figures being recommended in the Local Plan are based on faulty research and could actually be halved.

Retired local government worker Mr Williams says: “Of course, nurses at Warwick Hospital and young teachers can’t usually afford to live here. We do know there is a case to be made for more social housing.

“But nobody in our group - which is supported by Warwick town council, Bishops Tachbrook parish council and members of both the Warwick and the Leamington Societies - can see future migration, household size and job growth leading to the need for 12,300 new homes, let alone 12,900.”

Some of the land has already been earmarked for development in a district which is 80 per cent Green Belt. But developers are inevitably eyeing up large swathes of unprotected farmland south of Warwick for the proposed garden suburbs.

It was only at a meeting last Thursday that Cllr Mobbs revealed: “Current indications are the need for around 12,900 homes based on our evidence, including the joint Strategic Housing Market Assessment,

The SHMA advisory body allows for the urgent need for more rented, or first steps on the housing ladder homes, for young people.

Mr King says: “The council has got its calculations wrong. Its figures are gravely flawed.

“We welcome Cllr Mobbs’ new initiative to look for brownfield sites but it doesn’t address the central problem that the district council has wrongly calculated how many houses we actually need.

“We can show that half the number of homes proposed would still provide for substantial growth, But in our experience council officers tend to reject all criticism.”