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Decision on Whitford homes application deferred for a second time
CAMPAIGNERS celebrated after the controversial application to build hundreds of homes in Whitford was deferred for a second time by town planners.
The application to build 490 homes on land off Whitford Road from Catesby Estates Ltd and Miller Homes Ltd was originally discussed at April's meeting of Bromsgrove District Council's planning committee.
It was deferred for talks on traffic concerns, which took place in May between residents group Whitford Vale Voice (WVV) and the developers.
Although it was agreed a specific contribution for the Millfields area would be included, no consensus was reached on the overall impact of the scheme on the road network.
On Monday, (June 30), the application again went before the committee. Due to the high public interest, the meeting was moved to the Spadesbourne Suite with some members of the public even sitting in the suite's balcony to observe proceedings.
During the public speaking WVV highways advisor Alain Bailes and chairman Roy Dixon told councillors that despite the talks they were no further then they had been in April.
Ward councillor Luke Mallett used slides to demonstrate the impact an approval of the application would have on the network, saying the community had already suffered after years without proper infrastructure.
But David Morris and Peter Spencer, representing the developers, were highly critical of the evidence used by WVV and Cllr Mallett, commenting it was flawed and gave a false impression of the impact.
As Worcestershire Highways, the advisory body to the committee, had raised no objection to the scheme, it was commented any refusal would be appealed.
Officers also pointed out that the application had been on their books for a year and, if deferred, the applicant could appeal on the grounds of non-determination.
In the councillors discussions, members commented that they did not want to be "threatened" into making a decision.
Stoke Prior councillor John Tidmarsh said their decision would have an impact on Bromsgrove's future and if members refused they risked it being approved by the planning inspectorate on appeal.
Steve Hawley from Worcestershire Highways was also forced to defend the body from strong criticism by councillors.
It was raised that a motion calling for a feasibility study into the provision of a Western link road, taking traffic from the Eastern Bypass and diverting it away from the town centre, is being discussed by Worcestershire County councillors.
The motion is being heard on Thursday, July 3, but Tardebigge councillor Peter Whittaker pointed out members should hear the outcome before making any decision.
A motion to defer in order that the county council further investigate highway solutions, as well as to see the result of the debate on the bypass, was proposed.
After being passed on a vote of 10-1, there were loud cheers from the public gallery.
After the meeting a Catesby Estates and Miller Homes spokesman said: "Following the decision we are now considering our options."
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