Too late for debate says Warwick District leader

Warwick District Council
Warwick District Council

Prospective Labour MP for Warwick and Leamington, Lynnette Kelly, is furious that district council leader Andrew Mobbs has refused to meet her ahead of today’s final consultation on the district’s Local Plan.

Ms Kelly, who will stand against sitting Conservative MP Chris White in the general election next year, produced last minute ideas for up to 5,000 new homes being built on land near King’s Hill Lane, closer to Coventry than Warwick.

It was an idea that campaigners in the Save Warwick group saw as an “exceptional opportunity” worth exploring.

But Cllr Mobbs (Con, Kenilworth), believes Ms Kelly has already had ample opportunity to make her points ahead of today’s closing date.

He believes any further debate should be called by the district council, not Ms Kelly, who currently sits on Coventry City Council.

She said Cllr Mobbs was behaving like “King Canute” - trying to hold back a tide of public opposition to the Local Plan.

He accused her of ‘political electioneering’ and repeated his warning about the dangers of holding up finalisation of the plan, which leaves the district exposed for a longer period of time to speculative planning applications which are legally harder to reject.

On Tuesday Cllr Mobbs sent a confidential letter to Ms Kelly telling her that any meeting or public debate at this stage would be premature.

Cllr Mobbs said: “I wrote to Ms Kelly telling her that any of her comments were welcome to be submitted in time for the closure of the consultation period.”

On the Office of National Statistics figures which project a significantly reduced population growth rate up to 2029, Cllr Mobbs says the plan can still go forward to the Government even though he is awaiting results of a detailed analysis.

Ms Kelly replied: “He is behaving like King Canute. When the plan was approved by 25 to 11 votes in the council earlier this year, councillors received assurances the scheme would be reviewed in a minor or major way if significant new information came to hand. Since then two new major developments have happened - the ONS data and the emergence of King’s Hill as an alternative to Warwick and Leamington shouldering too much of the burden of new housing.”

Ms Kelly wants to work towards getting the status of at least part of some 650 acres of Green Belt - which is partly owned by Coventry council but all falls within the boundaries of Warwick District Council - redesignated at housing land. If this happened it could relieve the Local Plan’s requirement for more garden suburbs south of Warwick.