A new 91-home estate on a green field site on the edge of Kidderminster has been approved by councillors, despite objections from concerned nearby residents.
Wyre Forest District Council’s planning committee voted unanimously to grant the application by Miller Homes to build a mix of exclusive and affordable homes on an arable field at the junction of Hurcott Lane and Stourbridge Road.
Councillors claimed they had no choice as the scheme was in line with the council’s development policies and, if refused, would most likely go to appeal and be lost, with additional costs.
A previous application by Miller Homes was refused last year but was about to go to appeal. The new scheme is for marginally fewer homes and includes 27 “affordable” homes, of which around 20 will be for rent.
The company has been asked to hand over nearly half a million pounds to cover the costs of extra school places, a new bus stop, extended speed limit and a contribution to create a public open space within the estate as part of the agreement.
A total of 12 objections had been submitted, including from the owners of homes overlooking the nine-acre site. They currently enjoy uninterrupted countryside views towards Stourbridge, but will now face extensive building work and the rise of a new development.
One existing home, owned by objector Kenneth Wright, will end up adjoining eight new properties. Mr Wright addressed the committee (Tuesday June 19th) to urge them to reject the plans, claiming the homes were too densely packed, not in keeping with the countryside setting, and would cause significant highways issues.
After the meeting he said he was “naturally disappointed” but would continue to work with the developers to address outstanding issues.
Planning officers had recommended approval, after advising councillors the scheme would not cause significant harm to the area. Their position was supported by county highways chiefs, who said they had no objections to measures proposed, including a new access road and extension of the 30mph speed limit out of Kidderminster.
The report to Wyre Forest District Council’s planning committee concluded that the new homes are outside of the agreed housing development plan and in a restricted area yet, when balanced against the local need for housing, should go ahead.
The area was designated as an area of development restraint in 1996, which means it was earmarked as suitable for housing development but only if other more appropriate sites were considered first.
Speaking at the meeting, Councillor Marcus Hart, leader of the council, said he had previously opposed a scheme to build homes on the site but had since had a change of heart because of the changing policy of the council, which has been updated recently to meet new guidance.
He said he was supporting the refreshed proposal for the site because he wants to protect the Green Belt – which starts the other side of Hurcott Lane, a few yards away.
“I have no hesitation in doing the right thing now and supporting this application,” he added.
Councillor Fran Oborski voiced support for the application, partly because she felt that the council “would not have a leg to stand on” if Miller Homes appealed. “I know this will disappoint those objecting,” she added.
Councillor James Shaw says he supported the application because the area in question had long been designated an area of development restraint, which is a ‘back-up’ if the total number of house building schemes needed to meet Wyre Forest’s targets are not identified elsewhere.
On that basis it should go ahead, he said.
The committee, chaired by Councillor John Hart, voted unanimously to support the proposal.
The full report to planners can be viewed here