Controversial appeal to build 200 homes in Webheath won by developers

First published in News

OUTLINE permission for 200 homes in Webheath has been allowed by the planning inspector following a public inquiry.

Developers Taylor Wimpey and Barratt West Midlands appealed to the planning inspectorate after Redditch Council’s planning committee refused the application on land at Pumphouse Lane in the Webheath Area of Development Restraint in May last year citing concerns over local traffic, infrastructure and highway contributions.

The groups were granted a public inquiry, which took place in January.

However, legal counsel and consultants that were required to prepare the borough council’s case ahead of the inquiry could said they could find no planning evidence to support the reasons for refusal, and it became clear that the inspector was likely to overturn the refusal and allow permission.

As full costs tend to be awarded against planning authorities that are considered on appeal to have refused an application without evidence, the council decided to withdraw those two elements of the defence.

The decision of the inspector was Monday, February 17.

David Rose, chairman of Webheath Action Group which is fighting to stop building on the land, said that the news was not a great surprise

"The residents of Webheath have been betrayed and stabbed in the back ," he said.

"We knew before the appeal that the odds were heavily stacked against the group."

Redditch Councillor Greg Chance, who is responsible for planning, said: “While the outcome of the appeal was unfortunately to be expected, we all understand the strength of local feeling on the matter.

"A lot has been said about the decision to withdraw elements of the appeal defence. However, when barristers and specialists conclude that a defence cannot be won because there is no evidence, the duty of the council to all its residents and the public purse is clear – and in this difficult situation our actions in that regard appear to have been vindicated.”

The actual costs incurred by the council as a result of the appeal was £8,000 which included planning consultant fees plus officer time.

An application for reserved matters relating to the details of the development is now expected to be submitted in due course.

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