Housing could destroy character of town

By Rob George Friday 22 February 2013 Updated: 22/02 11:13

CONTROVERSIAL housing proposals are putting Droitwich’s distinctive character at risk according to the chairman of the town council’s planning committee.

Coun Roy Murphy made the claims in a letter to Housing Minister Nick Boles MP in which he raised the town council’s fears about housing developments at Copcut and Yew Tree Hill.

Both schemes have attracted controversy but could yet be approved subject to the implementation of the South

Worcestershire Development Plan (SWDP), the planning blueprint for area.

Coun Murphy branded the development plans as ‘over-expansion’ and said the town’s infrastructure and services would fail to deal with the extra numbers of people which the new homes would attract.

In the letter, Coun Murphy said the planning applications were premature because of the SWDP which was approved by Wychavon District, Malvern Hills District and Worcester City Council’s late last year.

A six-week period of public consultation concludes today (Friday) and the plan is expected to be considered by Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles MP in the spring before a public inquiry this summer.

Despite the impending introduction of the SWDP, Coun Murphy said there was a lot of uncertainty about current planning guidelines.

“Until the SWDP is adopted, if a planning application for development is refused, even on land unlikely to be included in the emerging SWDP, it would be pointless contesting the inevitable appeal,” he said.

“It seems that developers are taking advantage of the current situation and it would now appear that planning inspectors give priority to the issue of land supply, rather than other planning issues and the social and environmental consequences.”

“Please can you confirm that our concerns regarding the conduct of appeals are unfounded,” he added.

Coun Murphy said the council had been bombarded by requests from residents fearful of damage to their environment due to the threats from developers to the town’s infrastructure and character.

“These sentiments are felt across the entire town and not only by people directly affected.

“We urge you to respond positively to the wishes of local people; they alone know what is best for their own locality,” he added.

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