Controversial Fernhill Heath plans could stall over access

PLANS to build 120 homes in Fernhill Heath may be in jeopardy before they've even begun after landowners refused to sell land to developers which they were hoping to use as an access point.

Outline planning permission was granted to controversial plans to build the new development off Dilmore Lane by the planning committee at Wychavon District Council, under the condition that the dispute was resolved.

The plans, from developers Taylor Wimpey UK, had already raised concerns with local residents over suitability of access to the site and hundreds of residents had written to the council regarding the proposals with many voicing their concerns over access.

Nearby Claines resident Marcus Passant said: “Access to this site down Dilmore Lane is extremely poor at the moment and the significant additional traffic generated by 120 dwellings would make it dangerous and intolerable.

“The road down from the A38 is already treacherous and backs up at busy times and with cars parked left and right any development could create an accident waiting to happen by creating a rat run in an area with many small children.”

An earlier smaller development on the site in 1998, was refused because of access issues, but as part of the plans, Taylor Wimpey agreed to widen the road to 5.5 metres, as well as building a new footpath with access to areas of Fernhill Heath, and the plans have been labelled as satisfactory by the Highways Agency.

The committee was divided over its decision, with the deciding vote to approve the development cast by chairman Councillor Linda Robinson, and approval for the plans was only granted on condition that the land issues were resolved quickly, since without the disputed land, developers will not be able to build access to the site at all.

District councillor for Lovett & North Claines, Tony Miller, said: "I thought that they would back the local member in refusing this plan, but in one way the plan has been give more strength by these conditions.

"Now the developers have got to prove they’ve got ownership of the land they’ve got to widen, and the people who own the land are not interested in selling the land, so it’s going to be very difficult.

"This land has been designated for development for the last 30 years so at some point it will happen but it needs to happen in the right way.

"Fernhill Heath is being given a real caning in the number of developments it’s been expected to take. There’s no community hall, no doctors, no dentists. We’re looking for someone who would like to open a pharmacy, but we do need more facilities. What benefits are coming from this development? I can’t see many at all, only disadvantages. Our schools are full. Infrastructure led development is the way we should be going. I’m really angry it’s moving in this direction.”

If full planning permission is granted, developers are hoping to build nine three-bedroom houses on the land, along with 17 two-bedroom properties, six one-bedroom houses or maisonettes and two one-bedroom bungalows.

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