11th-hour bid to build 5,000 homes near kenilworth

New houses
New houses

A large piece of green belt land in the district has been put forward as a possible place for up to 5,000 homes.

And some believe this could be a very late option for Warwick District Council (WDC) to consider as an alternative to building thousands of homes near Leamington.

The land at King’s Hill near Warwick University is largely owned by Coventry City Council but actually falls within the northern boundaries of the district council.

Lynnette Kelly, the prospective parliamentary Labour candidate for Leamington and Warwick and also a Coventry city councillor, said she has been researching the idea and met with the city council to discuss how the land could be used to help the Warwick district.

And in a surprise development this week, Coventry City Council has informed WDC that it is willing to sell the land to them.

Ms Kelly says after listening to the objections of so many campaigners fighting the garden suburbs being proposed south of Leamington and Warwick, she believes the King’s Hill site could be the answer, if planning consent could be obtained.

Only last week new population growth figures issued by the Office of National Statistics suggested some 3,700 less than the 12,900 homes outlined in the Revised Local Plan would be necessary.

WDC council leader Andrew Mobbs says he is studying the new figures but his first reaction is that they will provide “no golden ticket” to dramatically fewer homes being required in the years up to 2029. But he promised to study Ms Kelly’s proposals, alongside the new ONS figures.

In a side-swipe at local MP Chris White, who she is challenging in the next elections, she said: “The development problems we face in Warwick and Leamington are very challenging but Mr White needs to do more than just oppose the existing Local Plan.

“I believe it is not enough for MPs simply to state what they oppose. They should actively seek alternatives if they don’t like what is proposed.”

In response, local MP Chris White, who has been publicly opposed to the Revised Local Plan for the past two years, guardedly welcomed Ms Kelly’s contribution to the debate, “however late” but feared there was a conflict of interest.

On Wednesday Mr White said: “First of all this land is partly owned by Coventry City Council and I am quite surprised they have only just recognised it as a potential site.

“More important is the issue of a conflict of interest in whether a Labour candidate is trying to solve a Warwick and Leamington problem.

“Coventry may well be looking to push some of its overspill into Warwick district - which would end up with land south of Warwick still being used in addition to this particular site.”

And on the potential need for 3,700 fewer homes than stipulated in the Local Plan currently being tested for soundness, he commented: “The Office of National Statistics figures is just part of the evidence base we used and I am unsure at the moment as to whether this will be a golden ticket to fewer houses needed.

“I do want the best for the district and therefore we are looking at all the evidence and will review our position in the light of these ONS figures.”