Winchcombe housing battle set to commence
THE fight to build hundreds of homes on protected land in Winchcombe is set to continue.
Tewkesbury Borough Council has rejected two separate applications to build 92 homes and 120 homes on land in and around Greet Road.
But at least one of the developers has chosen to appeal the decision with a high stakes public inquiry set to take place in early 2013 while the second developer says it is "likely" to appeal.
Both of the proposed sites are within a Special Landscape Area and councillors refused the applications on the grounds they would cause an "unacceptable impact".
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Under normal circumstances, homes would not be allowed to be built in the area which is outside of the town's residential development boundary unless plans met very stringent criteria. But due to the fact Tewkesbury Borough Council cannot demonstrate a five-year supply of housing, the land is at risk.
Government guidance states that in this situation permission should be granted to build unless the adverse impact of doing so would "significantly and demonstrably" outweigh the benefits. Council officers had recommended that Bloor Homes' application, which sought permission for 92 homes, be permitted but recommended against approving plans put forward by Redrow Homes for 120 dwellings.
Tewkesbury Borough Council's development control manager Paul Skelton said: "Both applications were refused on the basis that, whilst there is a recognised need for housing, the landscape harm that would result would have an unacceptable impact on the Special Landscape Area that provides the setting for the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
"The Redrow Homes scheme was also refused on design grounds and there were also technical refusal reasons on both applications relating to the lack of a signed legal agreement to deliver identified infrastructure improvements.
"An appeal has been lodged by Redrow Homes. A public inquiry will be held to consider the appeal, although no date has yet been set. We wait to see whether Bloor Homes decide to appeal the refusal of their application." Steve Macpherson, technical director at Bloor Homes, said they were "likely to appeal" the decision.
"We are extremely disappointed with the decision which went against the officer's recommendations to permit the scheme," he said.
Meanwhile a spokesperson for Redrow Homes said: "Redrow is committed to delivering a scheme for this site that meets the company's own high standards, together with the aspirations of Winchcombe residents, and will continue to work towards this over the next couple of months."