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Free bikes on the cards for residents of new Stone housing development?

By Kerry.Ashdown  |  Posted: January 07, 2014

OBJECTORS . . . Ann Draper and Margaret Sheppard

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HUNDREDS of new homes have been given the green light in Stone despite residents’ fears the town’s roads and health centres will be unable to cope with the influx.

But developer Hallam Land Management plans to encourage the new residents to leave their cars at home by offering free bikes and bus passes, Stafford Borough councillors were told at their planning meeting yesterday.

Around 500 homes are planned for the residential development on land west of Longhope Drive, Walton, which was granted planning permission. Eight councillors voted in favour, with one against. Walton councillor Mike Williamson abstained from voting.

Approval is subject to 40 per cent of the Walton Hill development being affordable housing and the applicant is also required to make financial contributions for open space, sport and recreational facilities, highway improvements and education.

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Stephen Stoner, who spoke on behalf of Hallam Land Management at yesterday’s meeting, welcomed Stafford Borough Council’s decision.

Speaking at the meeting he said it was a “comprehensive and robust” application and developers would be working with social landlords to deliver the affordable housing.

He added that it had already been given consideration as part of the Plan for Stafford Borough, which was publicly examined by planning inspector Stephen Pratt at the end of 2013.

But ward councillor Jill Hood said nearby roads, such as the busy Eccleshall Road, were already gridlocked at peak times without the addition of hundreds more cars.

“We don’t have the infrastructure to support it”, she added.

Councillor Frank James, who voted against the plans, described the free bike offer as something from Comic Cuts. “I have never heard such a suggestion,” he said.

The meeting was also told developers were proposing a new bus route to serve the Walton Hill site and two access points would be added to Eccleshall Road to discourage motorists from using existing residential streets as a rat run.

Longhope Drive resident Ann Draper, who spoke against the application, said she had been attempting to get a bus route for the area for several years but had been refused on numerous occasions.

“Doctors’ surgeries are already stretched to capacity. It takes a long time to get an appointment with the doctor of your choice,” she said.

Speaking after the meeting she added: “I feel I have wasted my time coming here today. The feelings of Stone people have not been taken into consideration.”

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