A decision to remove a popular walking and recreation area from a list of potential sites for new houses has been welcomed by campaigning councillors.
An area alongside the expansive 1,000-home Meon Vale development on a former Ministry of Defence depot at Long Marston had been included in the site allocations plan [SAP] drawn up by Stratford District Council.
That would have meant up to 300 houses could have been built on the land prompting protests from residents and local councillors who urged the ruling Conservative group to think again.
A report considered at yesterday's (Monday's) cabinet meeting explained: “The site was included with the 2019 proposed submission version of the SAP as a reserve housing site for up to 300 new homes based on its apparent availability, suitability and deliverability at that time.
“During the consultation the only representations received were from Severn Trent and St Modwen Developments both of which focused on technical and detailed aspects of the site. No objections were received from the local community.
“Following further analysis, it was considered that the site should become a specific site proposal.”
The document explained that this allowed local residents and stakeholders to have their say during the public consultation period and nearly half of the 1,570 responses concerned this area of Meon Vale with the vast majority objecting to its inclusion.
At this week’s meeting, Cllr Daren Pemberton (Con, Bidford East), the council’s portfolio holder for place, said: “Members will be aware that the site allocations plan has gone through its public consultation process and and this particular site drew, by a significant margin, more comments than any other and therefore it has been the focus of officers’ attention in reviewing and analysing the responses.
“Officers have got the message - and that message was loud and clear. It is the intention that this site be a green asset for the residents of Meon Vale and the wider district. The developer, St Modwens, have sought to withdraw housing proposals so everyone is on the same page about the future of the site.”
Cllr Manuela Perteghella (Lib Dem, Welford) was one of the leading campaigners against adding the land to the list of sites.
She said: “I am very pleased that the recommendation is to remove the allocation for housing and to safeguard the site in a green policy which is exactly what we asked in our amendment a while back.”
The land will now be protected under a local green space policy which will also look at future opportunities to enhance the area particularly in terms of its biodiversity.