Warwick Society - our next 20 year ‘skirmish’

James Mackay, chairman of the Warwick SocietyJames Mackay, chairman of the Warwick Society
James Mackay, chairman of the Warwick Society
Strong criticism of the district council is contained in the latest annual report due to be presented to members of the Warwick Society on March 10.

Chairman James Mackay and other members of the committee say they forsee 20 more years of “skirmishing” between themselves and the district and county councils as they are relegated to the role of “nimbys” - Not in My Back Yard” opponents.

Worse, they accuse district council officers of treating the major house developers as “colleagues” and working with them to pursue the authority’s own financial interests - as a way of attracting additional council tax.

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The society’s report suggests: “It can be argued that, with so much to gain from development, (the council) has a conflict of interest which should disqualify it from being the approving body.

“It (is) certainly ignoring the views expressed by a majority of of its citizens...” as both district and county council seem determined to channel a huge increase in traffic through the streets of Leamington and Warwick as a consequence of suburban sprawl.

Mr Mackay says that by regarding them as simply “nimbys”, the authorities are ignoring the views of those who want to live a civilised, properly urban life and to conserve the fine mixture of buildings in both towns.

He said: “Our ambitions will be severely threatened by the relentless volume of traffic, its noise and vibration and its poisonous effect on the air that we breathe.”

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It is expected to be early summer when a Government inspector examines the Local Plan submitted for 12,900 new homes up to 2029.

The district council has already granted planning consent for more than 2,000 of 4000 houses earmarked for greenfield - as opposed to Green Belt land - close to Warwick, Leamington, Whitnash and Bishops Tachbrook to cater for the increased numbers of people who are expected to want to live in the area.

Members of the Warwick Society committee are firmly of the view the inspector will turn the plan down.

This will be not only on the grounds of what they see as an exaggerated forecast of housing need but the plan’s blatant flaw. “It’s reliance on a car-dominated and ineffective transport strategy”.

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District planning committee chairman Alan Rhead (Con, Budbrooke) also rejected the plan, not because he was against more homes but an anticipated a £11 million shortfall on the infrastructure to accompany the new suburbs - in terms of roads, schools and medical facilities.

Despite this the district Local Plan was still approved by a majority of 25 councillors with just ten voting against it.