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STAFFORDSHIRE: District council housing plans spark objections across the border

STAFFORDSHIRE: District council housing plans spark objections across the border

Photo by Staffordshire LDR Kerry Ashdown

Fears that a new housing estate could be built on the border of Stafford and South Staffordshire have sparked a plea for residents to speak out against the plans.

Land on the southern edge of Stafford has been identified as a potential site for more than 160 new homes by South Staffordshire Council.

South Staffordshire Council launched a public consultation on its Local Plan Review Preferred Options, a document that sets out where new housing could be built to meet requirements in the coming years.

And four members of Stafford Borough Council are now calling on residents to have their say on the proposal because of concerns the extra homes on the edge of the county town would put more pressure on services in Wildwood, Weeping Cross and Baswich.

They are set to distribute leaflets to hundreds of homes in their wards to make residents aware of the consultation and how to have their say. The consultation, which opened last week (November 1), runs until Monday, December 13.

A target of 8,881 new homes in South Staffordshire has been set for the 2018-2028 period. This includes the district’s requirement of 4,131 and an additional 4,000 homes to contribute to the unmet need of the Greater Birmingham Housing Market Area.

Large-scale development sites for hundreds of homes have been earmarked for areas including countryside to the north of Penkridge, an area east of Codsall and Bilbrook and land to the south of Essington.

Smaller potential development sites are also detailed in the consultation document, including the land south of Stafford close to the Baswich and Wildwood areas and the A34.

The document stated: “This location will not be a focus for larger-scale housing growth. This recognises the sensitive landscape and potential highways concerns that larger scale growth in this location could cause, as well as the lack of unmet housing needs in Stafford and the location’s remoteness from areas of unmet needs in the wider GBHMA.

“Instead, a smaller scale extension to the adjacent town of Stafford will be delivered in this area, which will ensure the sustainable delivery of non-Green Belt housing land in the district.”

Stafford Borough councillor Jenny Barron, who represents the Weeping Cross and Wildwood ward, highlighted the plans at Tuesday’s Economic Development and Planning Scrutiny Committee meeting (November 9).

Borough councillors have previously battled to stop more than 150 homes being built on farmland off Cannock Road which in South Staffordshire District but close to the Stafford Borough border.

Councillor Barron said: “We fought this last time. Will the planning department be able to reply on behalf of the borough?

“It’s going to affect the infrastructure greatly and it is a very large development. Nobody’s had any consultation letters regarding this.”

Councillor Frances Beatty, cabinet member for economic development and planning, responded: “I have signed a letter back to South Staffs and we have got a meeting set up to go through the whole of their plan. The section that borders your ward is going to be extremely important in those deliberations, particularly in light of the case we fought off.

“This is not a planning application but developers would like the site earmarked and we would prefer that it wasn’t. We have made that clear in our initial response.”

Committee member Councillor Mark Winnington said: “I’m really concerned that a neighbouring authority can basically dump housing on Stafford Borough. The infrastructure is creaking and it’s pretty miserable of South Staffs to do this.”

“It’s the same with 106 monies (given by developers to fund community infrastructure such as schools and leisure facilities) – if anything did happen there where would they go? Would they go down to Kinver or somewhere?

“I think we have to jump on this straight away rather than sit there and wait for the consultation. It impacts on all that side of Stafford.”

Speaking after the meeting Councillor Ray Barron, who represents Weeping Cross and Wildwood alongside his wife, said: “It was very disappointing to see this area of land in the South Staffs Local Plan.  We worked so hard to get the original application for this land refused. South Staffs Councillors also were strongly against this proposal and voted to refuse it at their planning committee meeting

“We were not expecting this land to be proposed for development on the latest South Staffs development plan. All the same problems that were originally put forward will again arise.

“Adding another large housing estate right next to the already huge housing estate of Wildwood would mean having one estate in South Staffs and another estate in Stafford Borough. The extremely narrow Acton Hill Lane would become extremely busy on this narrow road

“This estate, if it is built, would require all the infrastructure and services of Stafford Borough, ie doctors’ surgeries, roads and schools. Also the A34 has just had the Bellway Development built and proposed large housing estates on land at Fairway -430 homes – and 365 homes on the Alstom site off Lichfield Road.”

Councillor Ann Edgeller, who represents the Baswich ward, said: “We are doing a leaflet drop for 2,000 households. It’s so important we do what we can about it.

“If this goes ahead they will be inundated with developers trying to develop there. Our schools are full and we can’t take any more. We’re already getting an impact from the former police headquarters site development which is still not finished yet.”

Fellow Baswich ward councillor Marnie Phillips said: “Everyone needs to send in their response to the Local Plan Review and explain why it’s not right for that area.  We don’t have the infrastructure in place to cope with that development.

“If they build additional houses in that area we are not going to receive the Section 106 money for that amount of houses. They will be residents of Stafford without Stafford benefitting from the money from that development and it’s not fair.

“Is it right for them to build more houses there and expect Stafford to contribute towards education provision? We don’t have the capacity.”

Words: Kerry Ashdown, Local Democracy Reporter

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