Council fearful of planning appeal costs

First published in News

A PLANNING row broke out over a proposal to build 59 new homes in Bretforton.

A long debate took place in the Wychavon District Council chambers as the development, which would be built on land off Station Road, Bretforton, by the Kler Group, was considered.

Bretforton parish councillor John Cleveland said the village was against the proposals, especially as the developers had submitted plans before a scheduled consultation leaving residents feeling the meeting was “worthless”.

Resident Margaret Dodds added villagers were seriously worried about flooding issues on the site.

“We strongly request you reject or defer this application until professional assessments of the technical, procedural and legal issues are completed and fully analysed. In particular the outcome of the current flooding catastrophe on the sister site needs to be resolved.”

Councillors debated this, including a worry about the pedestrian access onto a tight corner labelled “dangerous” by committee members.

But as the feeling seemed to be turning towards rejecting the plans, the head of planning Georgio Framalicco stepped in to advise the committee they would be "vulnerable" to losing an appeal should they oppose the plans. This could lead to the council paying heavy costs.

Speaking after the discussion and proposal for refusal, which was put forward by Coun Adrian Darby and seconded by Coun David Brotheridge, with the main reasons being unsustainability, flooding and the safety of the road, Coun Emma Stokes said she still supported refusal.

“If we are not allowed to make a decision can you tell me why it is brought to committee?” she asked. “It is outside the village boundary and not in the South Worcestershire Development Plan.”

Mr Framalicco responded: “The committee make the decision, it is right the committee make the decision. We are here to advise.”

He added: “This is going to be a very difficult appeal and I am concerned about the cost issue. You have approved another development a stone's throw away and now you are saying it’s unsustainable.

“I do think members of the committee are in a difficult position with this case. I think it would be better if you deferred this. I have serious concerns this would be difficult to defend on appeal and the cost situation.”

Despite this Coun Darby said he would not withdraw his proposal for refusal.

Coun Brotheridge did withdraw his seconding, however Coun Stokes stepped in to second the proposal.

A tight vote on rejecting the proposals saw six voting each way.

This led to a proposal for deferral being made, which was backed by eight votes to six.

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