Campaigners' joy as Whitford Road plan is deferred

By Tristan Harris Monday 30 June 2014 Updated: 02/07 23:41

THERE were scenes of jubilation in Bromsgrove's Spadesbourne Suite on Monday night (June 30) after the controversial outline planning permission for 490 homes at Whitford Road was deferred.

More than 150 residents, some with placards, along with local councillors and other representatives packed into the venue which had been chosen ahead of the Council Chamber to give extra capacity because of the amount of public interest in the proposal.

Officers were minded to approve the application but after almost two-and-a-half hours of debate and members still expressing plenty of reservations, another motion was put forward.

That, to defer the plan to give Worcestershire County Council Highways the chance to come up with some alternative proposals for the surrounding roads, was submitted by Coun John Tidmarsh and seconded by Coun Susan Baxter.

And when it was voted on, ten councillors voted in favour with just one against, prompting loud cheers and applause from the public gallery.

Despite hundreds of objections from residents, there were none from the Highways Department which deemed satisfactory the £784,489.60 worth of transport improvements and £50,000 towards pedestrian and cycling routes that had been put forward by developers Catesby Estates Limited and Miller Homes Limited.

But campaigners, including the Whitford Vale Voice group, had always maintained that the infrastructure improvements simply was not sufficient in an area which, they say, is already gridlocked during rush hours.

Many have, for years, mooted the idea of a Western By-pass which would take traffic from Bromsgrove's Eastern By-pass and divert it away from the town centre.

And a motion by Coun Luke Mallett asking for the possibility of such a road will be debated at the meeting of the full Worcestershire County Council on Thursday (July 3).

In proposing that, the Bromsgrove West (Sidemoor and Whitford) county councillor, said “For many years the community has been told that more housing developments would not come without sufficient transport infrastructure.

“The so-called Western By-pass has been talked about by the community and local groups for many years yet the Highways department at Worcester and our planners at Bromsgrove have done nothing for over 20 years to formally assess the feasibility of such a road.

"If we do not start the process now we will end up with gridlock.

"This motion is about getting things moving and bringing some focus to the transport problems in our town.”

Earlier during 30 minutes of speeches at Monday's meeting, members heard from Whitford Vale Voice chairman Roy Dixon and the group's traffic and highways adviser Alain Bailes, along with David Morris and Peter Spencer from the applicants and Coun Mallett.

There was mutual agreement that more homes were needed in Bromsgrove and more affordable homes - of which 196 were included in the outline application.

But the disagreements came on the infrastructure issues. The developers, backed by the county's Highways department, claimed the new road and junction layouts and additional traffic signals were sufficient for the 490 homes, but the residents argued they were not.

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