MP weighs in to debate over green belt homes

WARWICK and Leamington’s Conservative MP Chris White has clashed with the area’s Tory-led council over plans to build in the green belt.

The MP has called for Warwick District Council to “challenge” its assumptions about sites for development over the next 14 years.

After unpopular plans under the last government concentrated more than 4,000 new homes south of Leamington, the authority had proposed that each area take its share of new development.

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But Mr White has written to council leader Cllr Michael Doody saying he has received “hundreds” of emails about sites for almost 2,000 new homes in Old Milverton and Blackdown.

Mr White said: “The current proposals will not adequately address the challenges we face locally and could have a negative impact on our environment, particularly the green belt.

“I have made clear to Warwick District Council that they need to go back to the drawing board and challenge some of the assumptions that they have made.”

Raising concerns about the impact on the countryside and pressure on services, Mr White said the council could “significantly” reduce the number of homes needed if it focused on three principles: meeting the need for affordable housing and economic growth, preserving green belt and minimising building on greenfield land.

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He added that public consultation should be extended until the end of September to take into account the Jubilee celebrations and the Olympics.

But the council’s chief executive Chris Elliott pointed out that the Olympics had lasted two weeks and the Jubilee a weekend, while the consultation had run for two months, with wide publicity and thousands of responses.

He added the council had already re-examined its assumptions following the “massive reaction” against earlier plans, in which Mr White had taken part while a parliamentary candidate.

And he said officials had consulted on housing numbers and even the proposed figures would not meet the need for affordable homes, while ruling out green belt - 80 per cent of the district - would mean no growth for Kenilworth or many villages.