RADICAL proposals to regenerate Lillington have divided opinion over the possible use of greenbelt land for housing.
Campaigners from the Protect Lillington Greenbelt group are fighting to block plans which could see homes built on greenbelt land at Red Farm along with the demolition of some 320 homes, including the Eden Court tower block and the smaller neighbouring blocks of Southorn Court and Ashton Court.
The campaigners are concerned about the effect the plans could have on neighbouring Newbold Comyn and the potential loss of a riding school.
The proposals are part of Warwick District Council’s Local Plan and long-time district councillor and Lillington resident Alan Boad says the impact on the greenbelt had been exaggerated.
A planning inspector is currently considering the proposals and following a public meeting at Leamington Town Hall, Dr Diana Taulbut, of Protect Lillington Greenbelt, remains confident they can safeguard the greenbelt land from development.
She told the Observer: “I expected to come out of the meeting angry and frustrated, but was surprised and cheered by the way it went.
“The inspector was very thorough in his questioning. Warwick District Council were made to admit that the openness of the remaining greenbelt would be compromised, and that the proposed new boundary was not a permanent physical feature.
“They could not articulate the physical and financial links between the so-called regeneration plan, which is meant to be the ‘exceptional circumstances’ for greenbelt use, and the greenbelt development.
“The district council have not considered the use of the riding school as a recreational amenity and how to replace it. If they were building on a sports field they would have to replace it somewhere else, so why not the riding school?
“It sounded like the regeneration plans didn’t tick any of the planning inspector’s boxes so I would be very surprised if he approves them as part of the Local Plan.”
But Coun Alan Boad said it was still early days for the proposals and the greenbelt would not be affected as was being claimed.
He told The Observer: “The opportunity of developing, which offers the possibility of removing the high rise flats, is something we should go for.
“In the 1960s they were a good idea but now these people don’t have open outside space and don’t get to know their neighbours. It’s an idea which needs to be looked at but at this stage in the game it’s too early to say what will happen.
“The residents who are going to be directly affected by the proposals should be the ones involved in consultation. And any building on the farmland is not going to be as big as people are making it out to be.”
Around 90 per cent of the properties earmarked for demolition are council owned. Council chiefs have said all residents forced to move would be rehoused in the local area.
The next hearing will be at the Bowls Pavilion in Victoria Park on December 13, where the ‘Regeneration of Lillington’ plans will be considered.