Homes plan has no grounds for refusal

6:20pm Monday 9th December 2013

By Ian Craig

A CONTENTIOUS planning application for 30 homes in a village near Worcester looks set to go ahead despite massive opposition.

The application, by developers Miller Homes, for land south of Hope Lane, Clifton-upon-Teme, was discussed at a meeting of Malvern Hills district council’s northern area development management committee.

Members were told villagers were so opposed to the plans they had teamed up with landowner Brockhill Estates to offer an alternative of 15 homes at two separate locations in the village.

But planning officers said the Hope Lane site had been allocated for housing in the South Worcestershire Development Plan (SWDP), while the other two had not, and if the application was refused then it was almost certain it would be approved on appeal.

Chairman of Clifton Parish Council, Bernard Pound, said the council approving the Miller Homes application over the scheme proposed by Brockhill Estates would be “the exact opposite of localism”.

Throwing his support be-hind the two alternative plans, Coun Philip Grove said it was important to listen to the views of residents.

“I can’t say this is one I can support when I know there are two more coming through which are considerably better,” he said.

But the council’s development control manager Duncan Rudge said the decision must be taken in isolation.

“It is not a beauty contest,” he said.

“You’re not looking for the best site – you’re looking for an acceptable site.

“Whatever decision you make today does not influence another site. You cannot say it’s not sustainable – that would not last 10 minutes in front of a planning inspector.”

Coun Paul Swinburn said he understood residents’ concerns but did not feel confident the council could reasonably refuse the application.

“I have looked closely at the application and I regret to say I can find no firm planning grounds for refusal,” he said.

Members voted against ref-using the application by two votes to nine, with one abstention and voted to delegate the decision to the cou-ncil’s planning department by ten votes to one, with two abstentions, to cries of dismay from the public gallery.

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