New figures that show population growth in the area is likely to be lower than expected should be taken into account when it comes to the development of thousands of homes, says Warwick and Leamington MP Chris White.
He believes that although it is late in the day, the submission of the district’s Local Plan should still be amended to take account of reduced population growth figures.
It is four months since the Government’s Office for National Statistics announced that the expected growth in population for Warwick, Leamington and Kenilworth in the years up to 2029 were nearly 29 per cent lower than the projections on which the Local Plan was based.
With applications for 1,100 new homes off Europa Way about to be considered, Mr White believes it’s still not too late to adjust the plans allowing for 12,900 homes in the district.
Half of those homes have already been built or approved, although disputes still rage over whether there is a sufficient land stock for the next five years, as required by the Government.
Save Warwick campaigners say this figure has been met. District officers say they only have just below that level of land, some of which will have to come from the Green Belt.
A new Hearn report backs the ONS figures showing the district’s population growing to 16,754 over the next 20 years - not the 23,858 originally anticipated.
On Wednesday Mr White said: “The previous growth projections were only one part of the calculations in the Local Plan about to be submitted but they were a significant part.
“And I have a suspicion that if the population was predicted to increase, instead of fall, that would be used as a factor in justifying the new homes which could have such a tremendous impact on the road infrastructure, air quality and density of this area.
“We only have one opportunity to get this right and if people are using the justification that there is no longer enough time, then there certainly has been time over the past four months.”
But Lynnette Kelly, the Labour Parliamentary candidate who will stand against Mr White in next year’s General Election, still believes releasing sites that are currently classed as Green Belt on the edge of Coventry is the only realistic way of reducing the numbers of homes deemed necessary.
Ms Kelly said: “We can’t be forever waiting for the next set of statistics. If you don’t have an agreed Local Plan in place you are more at risk of uncontrolled development.
“The district plan needs to be really robust, not only in Warwick to protect the Green Belt but also in Leamington, to prevent more multiple occupancy homes.
“I want to see this go forward because even if the size of the population in the district does go down there is a policy of developing brownfield sites first so the green fields may not be needed.
“More important is the need to keep the percentage of affordable homes in place.”
Bishops Tachbrook parish councillor Ray Bullen, who is a prominent member of the Save