Local Plan appears to be in tatters

I was very concerned to hear that Warwick District Council (WDC), having just agreed to send the Local Plan for its examination stage by the Government inspector, could now agree to an additional 2,280 homes in order to take on some of Coventry’s supposed housing needs.

That represents an 18 per cent increase in the plan total, yet with no consultations, no idea where they will be built and no idea how the local infrastructure and schools and hospitals will cope. Coventry City Council is due to ratify this arrangement early next month. It is off-loading 12,620 homes (nearly 30,000 people, at 2.36 per house) into Warwickshire by 2031. Add to that the rejection of the Gateway plan and the failure to take the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) seriously on its Green Belt stance: the Local Plan appears to be in tatters – right before the inspector sees it.

It is depressing that WDC can fail to accept that the Office for National Statistics (ONS) projections for our district are correct – which give a population increase from now until 2031 of 16,200: a housing requirement of around 7,000 homes, just over half the number in the plan, most of which have already been built or planning permission agreed; but are happy to believe the astonishingly high ONS figures for Coventry and add yet more to the plan’s already grossly-inflated figures.

What is also completely witless is the idea of parcelling out housing need to other areas. Much of the population growth is based on regional, national and international migration – net flows from one area to another, eg: Birmingham to Stratford, Leamington to Coventry, etc. So is someone who wants to live in Coventry going to live in Warwick or Nuneaton instead? It takes no account of local property price differences, job locations, or transport availability or sustainability.

The ONS population projections showed unexpectedly a very large population increase for Coventry – making it the fastest-growing city in the UK. Hasn’t anyone thought to get the projections reviewed, in the light of the fact that the area houses vast student populations? Student populations should not be “aged” into the demographic. Was the correct data submitted? Were there unusual circumstances which have got into the growth rate figures and projected for 15 years? Were the student population/accommodation figures treated correctly? Should WDC be agreeing to a total population increase of 25 per cent in the district by 2031? Surely questions should be asked before we consign more irreplaceable green Warwickshire acres to brick and asphalt.

Dr Diana Taulbut, Protect Lillington Greenbelt