'This is an insult to local democracy' - campaigners voice their anger after council says it won't contest appeal over 200 homes in Whitnash

As we revealed yesterday (Thursday), Warwick District Council said it will not object to the plans - despite the fact that they have been thrown out twice by councillors

Campaigners who have spend months fighting controversial plans for 200 homes in Whitnash say they are furious with the council's decision not to fight the plans at the forthcoming public inquiry.

As we revealed yesterday (Thursday), Warwick District Council said it will not object to the plans when the developers bring the matter to an appeal.

The plans on land south of Chesterton Gardens have been thrown out on two occasions this year after councillors voted against them, following mass opposition.

Matt Western MP measures the roads in the area where the new homes are planned. One of the main arguments against the proposal was the lack of access and extra traffic.

But developers AC Lloyd appealed to the Secretary of State and was granted a public inquiry.

Warwick District Council leader Andrew Day said its legal advice suggests that the councillor's refusals were 'not supported by sound technical or planning reasons, is contrary to the expert evidence considered at the meeting and therefore may be irrational or unlawful' - and contesting it would be a waste of taxpayers' money. Click here to read the full story.

But Matt Western, MP for Warwick and Leamington, said that the council is abdicating its responsibility to the community it serves by not contesting the appeal.

"This is an insult to local democracy and paves the way for the Planning Inspector to approve AC Lloyd’s application," he added.

"The planning committee twice concluded that plans for East Whitnash are not sustainable, contrary to the council’s own Local Plan, and will be detrimental to existing and future residents who will be trapped in a gigantic cul-de-sac of close to 1,100 homes.

"I will carry on fighting this to the end."

Yesterday (Thursday) Mr Western attended a pre-hearing meeting with the Planning Inspector about the appealed East Whitnash development. The hearing is set for July 13.

He said: "Having submitted evidence, I know the vast majority of residents, the Warwickshire branch of the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England and many councillors from different parties are united against it.

Cllr Will Roberts who represents the area said: "The choice of the council not to defend the decision of it's own planning committee is very upsetting, especially for residents who will be negatively affected if AC Lloyd's application be granted.

"This shows how the planning process favours big developers and erodes the democratic decisions made by elected councillors on the planning committee.

"Twice now this application has been refused and yet the council have chosen not to defend the democratic decision because they might lose. Should we all give up when facing an uphill battle? The council is failing the residents it says it represents.

"There are many people who are still in this fight to do the right thing and challenge a developer who has shown they are more interested in profit over people.

"This fight is not lost. The application clearly goes against the Local Plan and puts people's health and well-being at risk. I and many other will not give up."

Warwickshire CPRE’s (Campaign to Protect Rural England) Sheila Cooper said: “We are dismayed by the publication of an article featuring quotes from Warwick District Council under the leadership of Councillor Andrew Day on the day the Planning Inspector, appointed to hear the Appeal Inquiry, held a Case Management Conference with the main parties – potentially prejudicing the Inquiry which is due to open on July 13.

“The council is putting financial concern ahead of its democratic responsibilities and accountability to the affected residents living on the Chesterton Gardens Estate and on the single road access to the development down Brimstone End whose lives will be negatively impacted by noise, air pollution and road safety issues.”