By Harriet Ernstsons Monday 23 September 2013 Updated: 23/09 12:03
CLARIFICATION has been sought after comments from the Government’s planning chief appeared to cast doubt on a policy to build thousands of Redditch homes in Bromsgrove district.
Councillors are set to vote on Wednesday (September 25) about whether to allow 3,400 homes to be sited in Foxlydiate but confusion has arisen after Nick Boles, Minister for Planning and Development, appeared to suggest councils did not need to take other authorities’ houses if they were planned for greenbelt areas.
If confirmed, it could affect both Bromsgrove’s Local Plan - which sets out where housing should be built in 2030 and has been influenced by their duty to accommodate neighbouring Redditch’s housing need - and the plan for Redditch, which relies on cross-bor-der growth to meet the forecast need for 6,400 extra homes in the next two decades and has already been given the green light by borough councillors.
Malcolm Glainger, chair of the Bentley Area Action Group, called on the Bromsgrove decision next week to be halted to allow senior officers time to meet with Mr Boles and clarify whether they were obliged to take on Redditch homes in light of the comments, which were then seemingly contradicted by a blog post on the Conservative Home website.
That suggested conserving the green-belt was not a good enough excuse to stop new homes being built.Mr Glainger, who claimed some councillors were not aware of the meet-ing set to take place to clarify the situ-ation, said: “Perhaps if members are more fully informed at the Bromsgrove
District Council meeting, they them-selves will have serious questions of their own and may arrive at a different conclusion.
“The people of Bromsgrove are being sleepwalked into the building of a new town of perhaps 10,000 people.
“It’s time to wake up.”
He added if Redditch councillors had been aware of the potential issue when they had voted through their own Local Plan - which includes the cross-boundary element which affects Bromsgrove - the outcome may have been different.Coun Roger Hollingworth, lead-er of Bromsgrove District Council, said officers were clear in their view the Bromsgrove plan, including the Redditch growth aspect, met the requirements of the National Planning Policy Framework including the green-belt policy.
“However comments attributed to planning minister Nick Boles had cre-ated some mixed messages around the issues and so I asked the Government to clarify the position.
“A meeting has been organised in London next month and I have instructed senior officers to attend so they can hear what is said first hand.
“Meanwhile the council will vote next week on whether to approve the plan to the next representation period, which would provide the opportunity for anyone who thinks the plan is unsound for any reason to raise their issues.
“Ultimately it will be the Planning Inspectorate that decides whether the plan is sound.”
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