All possibilities were considered

The Warwick District Local Plan is undoubtedly the most important decision that the council will be making for many years and this was reflected in the Courier’s coverage. Labour councillors unanimously supported the next stage of the Local Plan process and that is to offer the revised development strategy plan for residents to scrutinise and comment on.

Labour councillors and the Labour Party are committed to encouraging employment and ensuring that our residents have a good stock of mixed housing across the district. Warwick district has always experienced high property values where young people and families find it increasingly difficult to afford a home in the area, which is why we are committed to promoting affordable housing.

We were interested to see a letter in your paper from Jonathan Chilvers, a Green Party member. I am sure it was well meaning but I am afraid he has clearly not read the revised development strategy. As one of our councillors, Jane Knight said at the council meeting, “we desperately need affordable housing in the district and I would urge the council to continue to fight for this.” We are looking at a national standard of 40 per cent affordable housing in all developments across the district. Mr Chilvers’ suggestion of 50 per cent is unachievable as no developer would be able to develop a site on that basis. He also goes on to say that all brown field sites should be considered first. He is absolutely right. If he had read the strategy, he would see that this has been considered. I can assure him that every available brown field site in the district has been identified and is part of the revised strategy. I hope in future Mr Chilvers does his homework before he puts pen to paper.

At last week’s council meeting passions were high particularly from councillors in Warwick. Cllr Bromley amongst others asked why the distribution of housing could not be more equitably spread across the district. With our full support, this is what councillors agreed on at the start of this process including the preferred options that went out to public consultation. Within those options, was a proposed development of the green belt in North Leamington. The council must prove that there are exceptional circumstances in place to justify this development. The exceptional circumstances cannot be proved and the proposed sites have now been removed from the proposals. This was disappointing to the Labour Group because this now means that further development is now being proposed in South Leamington and Warwick. If the council had continued down this path of proposing development on the Green Belt, the plan would not have been accepted by the planning inspectorate and would be thrown out as being an unsound plan. Our plan must be sound and evidence based. If that happened, developers would effectively be given a free hand on where they develop and we certainly do not want to see that. But that does not prevent us from considering other green belt land however unpalatable such as areas in Kenilworth and Lillington

We are also very aware that quite rightly, we need to plan our housing needs with adjoining local authorities When these numbers are available, pressure must be put on Coventry City Council to accept more houses than they originally offered which could alleviate some of the concerns that councillors voiced at the last meeting.

Warwick councillors, Bromley, Dhillon, Higgins and Mellor all voted against residents having an opportunity to be consulted on the revised development strategy We find it very difficult to understand why these elected representatives want to deny their residents this opportunity.

Councillor John Barrott (Leamington Willes), Warwick District Labour Group Leader