141 new homes approved at meeting where multiple councillors declared an interest

Tuesday, 23rd June 2020

  • Councillors voted 5 for, 3 against and 1 councillor abstained.
  • Within the Tamworth Borough Council local plan the area of land was identified for housing.

TONIGHT, Tuesday 23 June, Tamworth Borough Council planning committee has given the go-ahead for 141 new homes in the North-West corner of the Borough.

The development of the 141 homes will sit on land to the northern side of Coton Lane opposite The Fox Pub, Helmingham and Osbourne.

Councillors voted 5 for, 3 against and 1 councillor abstained.

At the meeting, which was streamed live to members of the public, it transpired that the Chairman of the planning committee, Cllr Peter Thurgood, is a director of the company, Corkscrew Communications which was involved in the public engagement process on behalf of the developers.

As a result of the declaration, Cllr John Chesworth was voted in as temporary chairman for the remainder of the meeting.

In addition to the Chairman, declarations were also made by three other councillors who sit on the planning committee.  This was because they have either worked for or still work for the company involved in the public engagement process on behalf of the developers, Maplevale Developments.

In addition to Cllr Thurdood, Cllr Richard Ford also works for the company. Cllr Simon Goodall and Cllr Jeremy Oates have also previously undertaken work on behalf of the company.

Above you can see the proposed development and how it sits in Tamworth and Lichfield.

Above you can see the proposed development and how it sits in Tamworth and Lichfield.

All of these Councillors have this association on their register of interests which can be seen on the Tamworth Borough Council website.  This is the correct process to follow and we are not suggesting anything underhand has taken place.

From looking at Councillors Register of Interests, Corkscrew Communications appears on the Register of the Council leader, Councillor Daniel Cook who has previously undertaken door knocking and survey support in Swindon on a planning application there.

Councillor Michelle Cook who is Portfolio Holder for Housing Services and Communities is also a Director of Corkscrew Communications.

In his declaration at the meeting, Cllr Jeremy Oates said:

“I have the following interest in this application. I have recently been made aware that a company involved in the public engagement activities of the applicant is one for which I have performed ad-hoc consultancy work for during recent years.

“On a number of occasions I have performed work for corkscrew communications in a number of locations, this interest is included in my register of interest and has been since first dealing with this client. I would like it noted that at no point have I been involved in this application and until recently I was not aware Corkscrew communications were involved in this or any other site in Tamworth.

“Due to my previous work and any potential future work with this company I would like to declare a pecuniary interest in this application and leave the meeting at the appropriate time.”

When contacted by Tamworth Informed regarding his declaration, Cllr Jeremy Oates said:

“I do not have regular involvement with the day to day work of the business so had no knowledge of any involvement until recently.

“Once I was made aware I informed the monitoring officer and prepared my declaration of interest for the meeting, I also avoided any communications or involvement in the application.

“I have not and will not get involved in any work or application in or around Tamworth.”

Councillor Richard Kingstone, a ward councillor for the area spoke passionately at the meeting in objection to the plan. He stated that although the land was identified in the local plan for housing, this was for 77 houses, not 141.

The homes approved range from 1 to 4+ bedrooms which comprise of 6 x 1 bedroom properties, 59 x 2 bedroom properties, 55 x 3 bedroom and 21 properties with 4 or more bedrooms   – as well as some public open space and shared bike and bin stores.

The majority of the development site within the administrative area boundary of Tamworth Borough Council but there is a small section that crosses into neighbouring Lichfield – this, however, does not include any residential development.

The site is around 11.6 Acres in size and is currently home to Coton House Farm – a ‘Brownfield’ site made up of residential property and commercial uses.

There is also a large arable field, along with an agricultural building to the east of the site.

Within the Tamworth Borough Council local plan (2006-2031) – this area of land was identified for housing  – as part of the plan to deliver the additional required 4,425 homes by 2031.