Butcher challenges employment plan

A Tamworth butchers' business has launched a High Court challenge to the local council's decision to cut a greenfield site in the town from its employment development plans for the next few years.

R E Matthews Ltd, of 46 Church Street, says that the site, known as the Bonehill Road Extension, was allocated for employment use all the way through the Local Plan consultation period.

The butchers' firm says the site was only removed by the council at the final stage, along with four other sites also allocated for employment.

RE Matthews says that this radical modification to the local plan was made after all public consultation had ended, and was unlawful.

It says a government planning inspector was complimentary about the land, calling it a ‘high quality attractive site' with a greater chance of attracting national and international businesses to the area.

However, in January 2006, the Council modified the Local Plan, slashing the total allocation of employment land from 64.4 to 10.3 hectares, and removing five sites, one of which was the Bonehill Road Extension site.

The company argues that there was no discussion in the inspector's report about such a radical reduction in employment land, and that the Council's reasons for making the modification were neither clear nor cogent.

It says that the Council misconstrued the inspector's report, and gave reasons for its decision that were not supported by the inspector's recommendations.

Opening its case, counsel Richard Kimblin said : "These flaws go fundamentally to the whole purpose of the consultation and open debate which had been achieved until Tamworth Borough Council made a radical change and closed down effective consultation and inquiry on that change."

R E Matthews hopes that judge Sir Michael Harrison will order the Council to reconsider its decision.

The judge is expected to reserve his decision in order to give it in writing at a later date.

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