AN Alcester district councillor has defended delays to the planning decision over the Bloor Homes development to the west of Alcester, after Stratford District Council was named as the slowest English council at determining planning applications.

The council was placed at the top of the list published in Planning magazine, the official journal of the Royal Town Planning Inspectorate, just weeks after further delays were announced to the core strategy, which should strengthen the council’s position when it comes to refusing planning applications.

Councillor Mike Gittus, portfolio holder for environment and planning, said: “That was a six month snapshot, and Stratford district planning office has undergone a complete restructure that started after that article appeared in that magazine. The facts and figures that are displayed there do not reflect the current situation. That has improved.”

Currently Alcester is facing a duel application by Bloor Homes which would see 350 new homes being built in the town. The decision on the development was due to have been made in March of this year. The delay means that the developers would be within their rights to appeal to the planning inspectorate on the grounds of non-determination, much like the recent appeal made by Redrow Homes on its development to the north of Alcester.

Coun Gittus added: “There’s a common agreement and understanding between all those parties involved that this application is of considerable importance to the town of Alcester, and that before this matter comes to the committee for decision an enormous amount of work has had to be undertaken.”

Alcester Town Council is holding a meeting with Bloor Homes this month where members of the public can put questions to the developers through the council.

Coun Gittus said: “I’m confident that we’re working sufficiently closely with the applicants to ensure that this isn’t a situation. I’d be very surprised in the circumstances if on the one hand they were suggesting they’d come and talk to us, and on the other hand hitting us for non-determination. I’d be very surprised.”

The meeting between Alcester Town Council and Bloor Homes is taking place from 7.45pm at Globe House on Monday, November 19, and members of the public are welcome to attend. Anyone with questions is asked to give them to the town clerk before that date.