HOUSING plans could ‘suffocate’ residents says MP Matt Western as he calls on the government to reject a developer’s appeal to build 200 homes in Sydenham.
The Warwick and Leamington MP has opposed plans for up to 500 homes on land off Chesterton Gardens since it was first proposed in 2015.
The application has also been rejected by Warwick District Council’s planning committee twice in the last year – and an appeal was sent to the independent planning inspector in February.
Mr Western met with the inspector who recently visited Leamington to examine the road network and hear from concerned residents.
The appeal hearing – which could lead to the decision of the planning committee being overturned – took place earlier this month.
Evidence was heard from developer AC Lloyd and those opposed to its plans including residents.
Mr Western said: “It feels as if I have been fighting this plan for an eternity.
“I was grateful to have the opportunity to speak in evidence and deliver a closing statement at the appeal hearing as well as discussing the plans with the inspector during his site visit.
“It is unsustainable, contrary to the wishes of residents and surplus to requirements. Without a second access road, the plans for an initial 200 homes – rising to 500 thereafter – would suffocate Sydenham residents and make many lives miserable – including on the existing Chesterton Gardens estate.
“In 2013, the previous planning inspector stated that any further developments below the Chesterton Gardens would place unacceptable strain on the already limited capacity of the Sydenham road network.
“Nearly 4,000 surplus homes are being built in Warwick district and doubts about Coventry’s population figures mean this number could rise significantly if they are reviewed.
“It would also be an insult to local democracy for the decisions of the planning committee to be disregarded – and for hundreds of residents who signed a petition against the plans to be ignored.”
Mr Western also criticised the council’s decision not to submit evidence to the planning inspector in opposition to the development given it was twice rejected by its own planning committee.
WDC leader Andrew Day previously defended the decision not to contest, saying the risk of having to pay costs if the appeal was successful was too high following ‘strong legal advice’.
He added members of the planning committee would be supported in providing witness statements to the hearing and praised their ‘integrity’ over considering the application.
The development is included in the council’s Local Plan for housing and development adopted in 2017.
But Mr Western says analyses by former council planner and architect of 40 years, Ray Bullen, as well as the Coventry Keep our Green Belt Green group show more homes are being built in the district than are needed – and therefore the housing need calculations should be reviewed.
A decision from the inspector is expected to be made this month.