Warwickshire council cites pandemic threat to land supply in approving 550-home scheme

Stratford-on-Avon councillors have approved plans for more than 550 homes on brownfield land in the town after planning officers advised that the proposed scheme would help to maintain the local authority’s housing land supply position amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Stratford-on-Avon District Council. Image: Flickr / Elliott Brown
Stratford-on-Avon District Council. Image: Flickr / Elliott Brown

St Joseph Homes, a subsidiary of Berkeley Group, secured outline permission for 500 homes and 1,625 of flexible floorspace plus detailed permission for a further 56 homes and 752 square metres of flexible floorspace on the edge of Stratford-upon-Avon town centre. The scheme would include 15 affordable homes.

The seven-hectare site, at Timothy Bridge Road, forms part of the 27-hectare Canal Quarter Regeneration Zone, which is allocated for development including 650 homes in Stratford-on-Avon District Council’s 2016 core strategy.

Stratford-upon-Avon Town Council objected to the proposed scheme on several grounds, including that the application sought permission for 500 dwellings on a site identified for development of 650 homes, despite the proposed scheme representing just 25 per cent of the allocation.

However, district council planning officers recommended approval, noting that housing numbers in the core strategy were seen as a “minimum” requirement.

“The council can currently demonstrate a 6.51 years’ worth of housing land supply (as of 31 March 2019)” the committee report said. “However, this does not mean to say that the council should not pursue opportunities for additional housing over and above the current/required level if it can be delivered in a way that ensures compliance with local and national planning policies. 

“Whilst the impacts of Covid-19 on the housing market are still being understood, the pandemic has significantly reduced delivery in 2020 and as such, additional supply would be beneficial in respect of maintaining a 5YHLS [five-year housing land supply] and retaining control of planning across the district.”

The affordable housing contribution of 15 units, equivalent to less than three per cent of the proposed development, was deemed acceptable on the basis of an independently assessed viability report.

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