Controversial plans for 200 homes in Whitnash have been refused

After a debate lasting just over two-and-a-half hours, the plans were rejected by just a single vote

Controversial plans to build 200 homes in Whitnash have been refused.

After a debate lasting a couple of hours, councillors voted by five to four to refuse the plans for 200 homes on land south of Chesterton Gardens (there is some debate over where the land lies. It seems to fall within the Whitnash parish boundaries although planners at Warwick District Council refer to it as a Leamington development - and some councillors class it as Sydenham).

A number of neighbours spoke at the Warwick District Council planning committee meeting with one saying that there had been little reprieve from building work over the past 18 years.

Controversial plans to build 200 homes in Leamington have been refused.

After a proposal to approve it was rejected, Cllr Terry Morris put forward the motion for refusal after raising concerns about traffic and the lack of amenities.

And despite council planning officers recommending before the meeting that the proposal should be approved, councillors voted for the refusal by just a single vote.

Before the vote, Des Wynn, a director at developers AC Lloyd, said: “We acknowledge the strength of feeling surrounding traffic and in this regard we have, for a number of years, sought to acquire rights to construct a second access through Campion School.

“It is our intention to keep fighting for that because we feel that in the long term it is the right thing to do but this site cannot be held up indefinitely until that is agreed particularly as the highway authority have confirmed that the existing network can accommodate this first phase of 200 units.”

A number of councillors warned that a vote to refuse permission could prove costly and council solicitor Caroline Gutteridge added: “If you refuse on traffic then you do not have the support of highways and you could find yourself in a position where the planning inspectorate feels you have behaved unreasonably and there could be a costs award against the council.”

Many people voiced their opposition to the development, including Matt Western (MP for Warwick and Leamington) and local councillors Helen Adkins and Mini Mangat (Labour) and Cllr Will Roberts from the Green Party.

After the decision, Cllr Roberts said: “I am delighted for residents in South Leamington and particularly those who would have been so badly affected by noise and traffic.

"Developer AC Lloyds approach has been shameful and this is a victory for common sense and for local residents.

"Thank you for everyone who has contributed to this successful campaign through putting up posters, raising objections and spreading the word.”

Tonight, Mr Western said on social media: "This is the right decision. Since 2015, Labour councillors (including myself way back then) working with residents have campaigned against this development which would irreparably change the lives of a large part of Sydenham.

"I am delighted for the residents who have fought long and hard for these results - including the 400+ who signed Labour’s latest petition.

"Well done councillors Helen Adkins and Mini Mangat - you are a credit to the community.

"Extraordinary scenes were witnessed in the committee. Questions will be asked about the process. But pleased the right decision was made.

"The fight goes on to save our towns and villages from overdevelopment and any unsustainable housing plans such as this."

Cllr Helen Adkins, county councillor for Leamington Willes, said: "Last night’s decision to refuse the building of the 200 houses is a victory for the residents of Sydenham.

"We have battled over the last two years to stop this development and we are so pleased for our local community that this has been achieved.

"Over the past two years we have collected over 400 signatures on our petition to stop this development and this went a long way to change the hearts and minds of people in the area.

"Cllr Mangat and myself have also worked hard with residents to lobby county Highways and have met with AC Lloyd to make our views known. This has been a tough battle, but it goes to show how much can be achieved when communities stand together."

Cllr Mini Mangat who spoke at the committee meeting, added: ‘I presented my arguments clearly to the committee and asked them to consider the impact this development would have, without a second access road, on the residents of the area, and in particular the children in the area.

"My own children have asthma and the pollution of this development would have been detrimental to their health and the health of other people with such health conditions. I spoke as a resident living in the very near vicinity to the development – I am so pleased for our community that this development has been refused.’‘