Back on track

Fresh housing figures have shown that the number of new homes started in Mid Worcestershire in 2012 was more than double the national average. In fact, the average for across the UK was 144 new homes, but in Mid Worcestershire the figure was 354. This shows that Wychavon District Council is doing exactly the right thing and is building the new homes that we desperately need.

But the council is also making sure that these homes go in the right place. The applications for hundreds of new homes at Yew Tree Hill in Droitwich were turned down unanimously by the council. But unsurprisingly, the developers have now appealed against the councilís decision.

Normally the appeal would simply go to the independent national planning inspectors to assess the case but this time things are slightly different. So I think we have reason to be optimistic that the councilís original decision to turn down the application will stick.

The development at Yew Tree Hill is actually two separate applications. But, the planning inspector has recognised that two large developments will have joint impact on the town and the application is being considered as one. So, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government has decided to ďrecoverĒ the appeal. This means that that the minister, not the inspector, will now decide whether the appeal should be overturned and the application for houses granted.

The planning ministerís recent visit to Wychavon showed him that the council is doing its bit to help solve our national housing crisis. With this in mind and the fact that the South Worcestershire Development Plan has been submitted for final approval, I am optimistic that the Secretary of State will support the councilís decision. But we will have to keep our fingers crossed.

But this is not just about Yew Tree Hill. This also marks an important step towards the council regaining control of the local planning policy. When the South Worcestershire Development Plan is in place the council can be secure about resisting development in unwelcome areas. It also means that communities do not have to be fearful that developers can ride roughshod over local opinion.

If everything is ok with the plan then it will hopefully be approved later this year. It is then that planning will be firmly back in the hands of local people, and I know that we will all breathe a sign a relief.


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