7,000 houses from Coventry set to be built outside Kenilworth

An extra 7,000 homes are likely to be built just outside Kenilworth after a planning inspector agreed plans for the district to take on the bulk of Coventry’s housing shortfall.

The Government planning inspector has this month agreed to suspend Warwick District Council’s (WDC) plan while the homes are added to address a shortfall in Coventry.

And the green belt land by King’s Hill Lane, between Kenilworth and Finham, has been cited in council reports as most likely for the majority of the new builds, despite widespread opposition over loss to the open countryside.

The district’s Local Plan- which sets out development up to 2029 - was previously dismissed for failing to meet national housing requirements.

But approving the decision to take on an extra 7,008 houses from Coventry, the inspector this week granted time for the plan to be amended.

Conservative council leader Andrew Mobbs said he was “delighted” with the news, and confirmed hints that land bordering Coventry is the most likely place for major building.

He said: “I am delighted that the inspector has agreed to our time scales and suspended the Local Plan. This means that we can now move forward positively and fend off unwanted development. It is quite correct that a site bordering Coventry will be considered fully.

“Because we are meeting Coventry’s need it makes sense for the extra houses to be situated towards the city as much as that is possible.”

Despite refusing to name any sites, the land at King’s Hill is the only viable option for development on such a scale. A large chunk of the 650-acre site lies within the green belt and inside the district, but is owned by Coventry Council.

This land has previously been offered to WDC as a potential development site for up to 5,000 homes, as was suggested by Labour’s Lynnette Kelly when she unsuccessfully campaigned for the Warwick and Leamington seat in the last General Election, but hundreds of residents in Finham have campaigned against development to protect the countryside and boundary around Kenilworth. Without accepting the extra houses, WDC’s draft Local Plan would be rejected after it was criticised for failing to meet housing numbers. The planning inspector also ordered that the shortfall of housing across Warwickshire and Coventry must be met jointly, leading to the decision by Warwickshire’s council leaders to take on 17,800 houses which the city cannot find space for.

Warwick district accepted 40 per cent of these, meaning that on top of the 12,900 required within the Local Plan by 2029 the council must find space for an extra 7,008 houses by 2031.

This number could even rise again as Nuneaton and Bedworth has refused to sign up for its share of 5,700 houses in the redistribution package.

WDC chief executive, Chris Elliot told Warwick Town Council: “Warwick district has the strongest functional relationship with Coventry. It is a net importer of workers and the number of new houses is a reflection of that.

“If we are taking on houses from Coventry it makes sense to look at building these on sites adjacent to Coventry. I cannot say at this stage that there won’t be housing anywhere else, but in realistic terms we are not going to try and put these houses outside the green belt.”

Changes also include a possible dual carriageway at Europa Way to accommodate more housing with more plans to be debated by councillors and officers in the coming months.