CAMPAIGNERS against a proposed ‘mega cul-de-sac’ in Whitnash say the council’s plans not to object to the developer’s appeal is an ‘insult to local democracy’.
Warwick District Council’s planning committee recently voted down controversial plans to build 200 homes on land close to Chesterton Gardens for the second time.
But the authority says it will not object when developer AC Lloyd’s appeal is heard by government’s planning inspector on Tuesday July 13, following an appeal to the Secretary of State.
Campaigners, including MP Matt Western and local councillors have hit out at the ‘upsetting’ news.
Council leader Andrew Day says it has received legal advice the planning committee’s decision to refuse the application was not supported by ‘sound technical or planning reasons’ and may go against evidence making it irrational or unlawful.
He added if this appeal is successful any changes made to the application before it was submitted a second time will not have to be made.
Coun Day said: “This council will not commit significant sums of public money contesting this appeal with the risk of being ordered to meet all of the substantial costs incurred by the appellant should they be successful.
“Members of the planning committee will of course be supported in providing witness statements to the hearing, if they choose to do so.
“I believe the committee acted with integrity in considering this important and complex application. The decision not to object to this appeal is a careful and considered judgement on where best to apply scarce public funding, given the strong legal advice about the very limited chances of defending the grounds on which the committee’s decision was taken.”
Coun Will Roberts, who represents the area, said: “The choice of the council not to defend the decision of its 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 wellbeing at risk. I and many other will not give up.”
MP Matt Western has also been left disappointed by the council’s decision.
He added: “This is an insult to local democracy and paves the way for the planning inspector to approve AC Lloyd’s application.
“The council is prepared to abdicate its responsibility to the community it serves by not contesting the appeal.
“The planning committee twice concluded 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.”