Councillors to vote again on controversial housing plans

First published in Local

COUNCILLORS are to take the unusual step of voting again on a controversial planning decision to allow a 740-home estate following threats of legal action.

The Copcut Lane development on fields on the outskirts of Droitwich will go back to a vote of Wychavon District Council ’s planning committee for a second time after action group Save Copcut submitted a legal challenge.

A solicitor’s letter from the group questions the rigour of the planning report which officers submitted to councillors before the first vote in May. It says there are five reasons for a legal challenge, claiming that some of the arguments the councillors relied upon in their own officer’s planning report as the basis to grant approval first time around were flawed.

The council denies there was anything wrong with the application process but says it is tightening up on a couple of areas.

Developer William Davies wants to build homes, business premises and a community centre on the site.

As part of its campaign against the planning decision, Save Copcut has looked into getting the decision called in by the secretary of state and pursued legal action.

Permission was granted despite stiff opposition from residents, with a 450-name petition handed to planners.

They say that not enough weight was given to people’s concerns that the area would be overwhelmed by traffic from the new estate and their suggestions that there were better alternative, previously developed sites, elsewhere. Neil Pearce, district council planning officer, said: “We have reviewed the letter and taken legal advice.

“As a result of this advice, we will be re-submitting the application to the planning committee so the committee will essentially be asked to vote on the application again.

“We will use this opportunity to address issues of biodiversity, land supply and anything else that we feel may be relevant that will help the committee to make a decision.

“Our legal team have advised us that it would be worth tightening up on a couple of areas in the report, that may form the basis of a potential challenge, which is why it is returning to committee with that additional information.

“This doesn’t mean there was anything specifically wrong with the original report – just that we can be clearer to mitigate the risk against challenge.”

The matter will be put to the vote again on Thursday, October 11.

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