Plans approved for final phases of 425-home development near Kenilworth - despite scathing criticism

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Warwick District Council’s planning committee unanimously gave developers Crest Nicholson the go-ahead for the remaining 296 homes to be built on land to the south of Westwood Heath Road, Burton Green, opposite Network Rail’s Westwood Training Centre.

The final phases of a 425-home development on the outskirts of Coventry got the green light this week – despite a scathing attack on its “bland, boring, unimpressive design”.

Warwick District Council’s planning committee unanimously gave developers Crest Nicholson the go-ahead for the remaining 296 homes to be built on land to the south of Westwood Heath Road, Burton Green, opposite Network Rail’s Westwood Training Centre.

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Outline permission – backing the principle of housing on the land – and detailed permission for the first 129 homes was granted in 2018, meaning councillors could only make this latest decision on matters relating to the appearance, landscaping, layout and scale of development on the site.

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A report from district planning officer Lucy Hammond recommended approval but the decision took more than an hour to arrive with councillors discussing a range of issues, including traffic calming measures and the connectivity of cycle and pedestrian routes.

Councillor Bill Gifford (Lib Dem, Leamington Milverton) also weighed in with questions on the development's appearance.

He asked Ms Hammond: “In your report, you refer to it being a high-quality design. Why do you think it is a high-quality design?”

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She replied: “Design is, of course, subjective. You may take a different view but the essence of where that is coming from relates to the design code which was approved as part of the outline application.

“The hybrid permission, which was for both the detailed phase and the remaining phases, has a quite comprehensive design code document setting out different character areas, within those character areas how the development should be made up, what house types that should comprise – building heights, storey heights, materials to be used, various design and architectural features.

“It’s a requirement for it to be put forward in line with that approved design code, which in officers’ view it is, taking into account all the wider design guidance we have – the garden suburbs principles, the residential design guide and the character of the wider surrounding area.

“It’s the officers' view that, overall, it will lead to a high-quality design.”

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Cllr Gifford argued that "it sounds to me more like an acceptable design rather than a high-quality design" but Ms Hammond said it “exceeds acceptable” and that the council was “not looking for the bare minimum here”.

However, Cllr Gifford would not be swayed.

“You wouldn’t expect this to be winning any prizes,” he said.

“To me this is a bland, boring, unimpressive design that could have come from any number of different housing estates around the country.

"There’s nothing particularly exceptional or high-quality about it.

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“It’s quite clearly subjective but we are coming to a new local plan and we really need to look. In the last one we talked about garden towns, I have to say that I feel depressed that this has not actually happened, it has just become words and I feel that this is poor quality and designed down to the standards necessary.

“I’m not sure I can go to refuse it but it doesn’t enthuse me at all.”