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By Harriet Ernstsons Thursday 27 March 2014 Updated: 31/03 10:15
MORE OF Bromsgrove District could be concreted over after serious concerns were raised about the number of homes planned for the future.
An inspector has ordered Bromsgrove District and Redditch Borough Councils to urgently respond to a letter questioning the evidence used to decide how many properties will be sited in both areas before 2030.
It comes after councils in the south of the county were forced to re-examine the South Worcestershire Development Plan, potentially adding thousands more homes.
Bromsgrove and Redditch finally submitted their plans after a three-month delay so they could look again at their evidence, some of which was the same as that used in the SWDP.
But unlike in the south, they decided to keep the same numbers - a total of 6,400 homes for Redditch, 3,000 of which will be built over the border in Bromsgrove, and a further 7,000 for Bromsgrove.
If they are forced to resubmit the plans, it could mean both councils are asked to find extra land to site more homes.
In the letter, sent on Wednesday (March 26), inspector Michael Hetherington said although he was at ‘an early stage’ in his preparatory work, he had identified a matter which potentially involved a ‘serious soundness concern’.
“It is unclear from the draft report how the updated evidence has affected the councils’ consideration of the objectively assessed housing needs within their respective areas.”
He added a note on the Bromsgrove district plan said the evidence justified the requirement of 7,000 but three scenarios detailed in the report suggested more than that would be needed.
“It is necessary that the objectively assessed housing needs in respect of both local plans are explicitly stated and robustly justified. The assumptions that underpin the proposed dwelling requirement figures should be clear from the supporting evidence base.”
He has asked for urgent consideration and a written response to his statement, adding a meeting could be called to discuss the issue before the main hearings associated with approving the plans.
Webheath Action Group chairman David Rose said: “There have been flaws before in the process that we have highlighted to the chief exec.
“It is not a great surprise the inspector has found flaws also.”
Ruth Bamford, the council’s head of planning and regeneration, said: “The inspector has asked us to clarify the evidence used to decide the overall numbers in the plan, and we will provide that clarification.”
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