North Warwickshire Borough Council has reacted with dismay to a decision by a Planning Inspector to allow a development in the ‘Meaningful Gap’ between Dordon and Tamworth.
Inspector Matthew Birkinshaw has allowed an appeal by St Modwen Developments to develop 25 hectares of land off Trinity Road, Dordon.
The Council was concerned that this would mean there would be a continuous line of development from North Warwickshire to Tamworth and threaten the separate identity of North Warwickshire.
The Inspector however felt that this would be protected by relying just on the land to the north of the A5 opposite the Birch Coppice business park.
Commenting on the news, North Warwickshire Borough Council Leader, Councillor David Humphreys said:
“It has been a long standing aim in North Warwickshire to avoid us appearing to merge into the larger urban area of Tamworth. We’ve had planning policies on this since at least 1989 and have always been supported by local people.
“We successfully got an Inspector to agree a policy to have a ‘Meaningful Gap’ between the two areas in 2014 and we are therefore thoroughly disappointed that this Inspector has reinterpreted this, by saying that it’s fine just to be separated from Tamworth north of the A5.
It is very difficult for us to do our job if we don’t get consistency from the Planning Inspectorate. I have already raised the need for Planning Inspectors to follow Government policy and allow local decision to count with the Planning Minister and I will now seek another urgent meeting with him to raise our concerns. ”
“ The Inspector has imposed an entirely different approach to the Meaningful Gap and we will need to review how we deal with this. We may, however, be able to look again at where development should go in North Warwickshire and I will be discussing this with other
Councillors. We will then be able to have a fresh conversation with residents of North Warwickshire about how we all want to see our area develop.”
Councillor Mark Simpson, Chair of the Planning and Development Board, added:
“We are trying very hard to deal with unprecedented growth in North Warwickshire in return for the promise of being able to control where it goes. We feel at the moment that we are doing our bit but the promise of local control is not being delivered by Planning Inspectors. House building levels are up in the Borough to provide for future generations but the public are growing increasingly annoyed when local plans are not followed – we’ve had a number of appeals allowed in the Austrey area, when it could not have been clearer what local people’s wishes are.
Whilst the jobs and economic activity are welcome, the Inspector has gone against decades of local wishes by effectively joining us up with Tamworth.”