Developers sent back to the drawing board over Whitford Road

By Beth Sharp Thursday 01 May 2014 Updated: 06/05 08:22

CAMPAIGNERS fighting the Whitford Road housing development cheered in the council chamber when the controversial planning application for 490 homes was deferred.

The proposal, which included £784,489.60 worth of transport improvements, was recommended for approval when it went before the district council’s planning committee on Monday (April 28).

One councillor abstained and ten members voted for a new motion, put forward by Coun John Ruck, to defer the application until at least June.

He said the committee was trapped between a rock and hard place - if approval was given, Bromsgrove would be left gridlocked but if was refused, it would most likely go to appeal and go through at a later date, incurring large costs.

Chairman Coun Richard Deeming, to a round of applause, announced: “Right ladies and gentleman, we cannot promise anything but we are going back to the table.”

Whitford Vale Voice (WVV) chairman Roy Dixon said those living their feared the increased amounts of traffic the homes would bring and said the developers and Worcestershire Highways needed rational evidence to back up their proposed traffic solution.

“It was heartening to the local community to hear the councillors have the same concerns as residents.

“If this application is approved I shudder to think of the effect that both it and the upcoming Perryfields application will have on journey times across the town, these being even more unreliable and having a detrimental effect on the economic sustainability of Bromsgrove.”

He said the WVV had used the applicants’ own data to illustrate how queues from Fox Lane would back up hundreds of metres and highlighted a lack of references to potential traffic problems in Millfields.

Alan Bailes, the WVV’s transport adviser, said the scheme would result in the town becoming ‘permanently gridlocked’ and being used as one big rat-run as drivers tried to avoid queues at Rock Hill by using Millfields Road, Shrubbery Road and Brook Road.

Problems with pollution, lack of community infrastructure, pedestrians’ saftey and the impact on the environment were also highlighted as concerns and were rejected in the report by Worcestershire Highways and the developers.

Council officers pointed out the many benefits the scheme had including the some 1,080 constructions jobs which would be provided for the next five to seven years and the investments and people it would bring to Bromsgrove.

Sanders Park would also be improved with £150,000 worth of adult and teen provision along with more than £250,000 worth of link improvements for walkers and cyclists.

Whitford councillor Luke Mallett said planners should be taking congestion around the town not through it.

“The town is already creaking under the pressures of traffic and it is essential that development is matched with the right road improvement plans from our Highways Authority. “

A Catesby Estates and Miller Homes spokesperson claimed the outline application was accompanied with a full transportation assessment which set out appropriate measures to deal with traffic issues.

And she added the company would be willing to meet all parties again to discuss matters raised at committee.

“In submitting this application, we are simply seeking to bring forward the council’s own allocation of the site for housing and associated infrastructure in its new local plan.

“The principle of suitability of the site for development was established some years ago in the adopted Local Plan and there is an urgent need to bring the site forward now as the council rely upon it to meet their housing land requirements and protect other less suitable sites from development,” she said.

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