THE CONTROVERSIAL proposal to bulldoze Bromsgrove’s Burcot Garden Centre and cafe and replace it with 11 homes have been thrown out by the council’s planning committee.
Planning officers had recommended delegated powers be given to approve the application which included three affordable homes.
But after hearing from speakers and some lengthy debate an alternative recommendation to refuse it was put forward by Coun Charles Hotham.
Summing up he said the grounds for refusal would be ‘insufficient affordable housing’ and the affordable housing not being of mixed provision.
The development would be a mix of two and three-bedroom properties but all three affordable homes had just two bedrooms.
During the discussions the developer was criticised for the affordable homes not being mixed in with the market value properties and because all three affordable homes were two-bedroom.
Coun Peter McDonald labelled the move ‘discriminatory’, adding some looking for affordable properties would need three bedrooms.
It was pointed out the levels of affordable housing in developments of ten properties or more, according to the Bromsgrove District Plan, should be up to 40 per cent on the green belt and up to 30 per cent on brownfield sites.
The three affordable houses out of 11 equates to 27 per cent.
Section 106 agreements for local facilities and infrastructure also form part of the plan.
Three residents living near the site spoke at the meeting outlining a raft of objections, including the loss of the popular garden centre and cafe, the loss of jobs, the loss of views and the potential for flooding.
One said: “This development deprives the many to satisfy the few.
“You are about to change this hamlet village and the lives of the people within it forever.”
Simon Warner, the applicant’s agent, said it was a positive development which had been put forward following extensive discussions with planning officers.
He claimed the garden centre was struggling because of low footfall, nearby competition and low spending power, adding it the current climate it would only get worse.
He said the scheme met all the criteria it needed to and materials had been considered to ensure it was in keeping with the character of the area.
He pointed out – through a Section 106 agreement – £84,000 had been pledged for local amenities, including highways, the recreation ground and Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust and Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) for healthcare.
The applicant would also be happy for conditions put on when work could take place, he added.
The committee voted on the alternative recommendation to refuse the application with eight for, one against and one abstention.