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By Tristan Harris Thursday 30 January 2014 Updated: 02/02 22:28
COUNCIL leader Roger Hollingworth has hit out at the Planning Inspectorate which has given Bromsgrove District Housing Trust (bdht) the green light to build homes on garage sites in the district.
Two of the applications were for areas off Byron Way in Catshill - one for two homes and a bungalow and the other for six properties.
All would be for affordable rent and have car parking space and private gardens.
They were initially thrown out by Bromsgrove District Council's Planning Committee last year but bdht was given permission after appealing the decision.
In its report, the Planning Inspectorate stated it felt the new buildings would improve the appearance of the site and 'not be visually intimidating to the neighbours'.
It also dismissed the main concerns highlighted by residents, including the loss of parking provision meaning cars would have to park on the road, leading to congestion.
It also claimed the council could not demonstrate a five-year housing land supply but Coun Hollingworth disputed that and said the authority had one.
"We know we have a housing shortage, but we have got a plan to remedy that and to find all the extra houses we need.
"But, it's planned and not ad-hoc like bdht."
The move has also angered residents.
One who lives in Spenser Walk said: "This will be a total infringement.
"If we lose those parking spaces, room will have to be found for at least 30 cars when visitors are being taken into account.
"Everyone will have to park on the road in Byron Way, causing chaos and congestion."
These latest decisions by the Planning Inspectorate follow similar ones on garage sites in Alvechurch and Romsley.
Gary Fowler, director of development at bdht, said the sites were part of strategic planning applications which had been fully discussed and agreed with the Bromsgrove District Council planning officers but, once they were put to the committee, were turned down, whilst others were passed.
"We were confused by this decision, as they fully complied with local authority policy, so we appealed to the Government's Planning Inspector for clarity.
"They supported our view, and overturned the decision.
“We are baffled by Coun Hollingsworth's view that we have acted in an ad-hoc manner on this.
"We agreed a clear strategy with the council, including these sites, to improve the supply of affordable housing in Bromsgrove.
"We will continue to discuss, and follow this strategy."
But Coun Hollingworth said the agreement was that garage sites could be built on, only, if they were not being used by residents and if the area was not over-developed.
"When we plan developments, we integrate the affordable homes so there is a good mix of housing and it's not just the same types of properties in one area.
"The committee turned the garage site applications down to protect the residents from over development.
"We did our best and fully supported the residents' objections, but the Planning Inspectorate is a law unto itself."
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