A DEVELOPER has lodged a High Court challenge to Stafford Borough’s Local Plan, arguing there will be a housing shortage.
In June councillors unanimously adopted the plan, which provides a blueprint for growth for the next 17 years.
But Cheshire-based Gladman Developments, which wants to build 115 homes in Hixon, is challenging that decision in the High Court – a move fiercely contested by the council.
Councillor Frances Beatty, cabinet member for planning and regeneration, said: “Many developers were trying to jump the gun and get plans through the system before the plan was adopted. For a developer to start disputing our figures is unacceptable and we will resist.”
The Local Plan took 13 years to complete and recommends 10,000 homes should be built in the borough up to 2031. Just under 1,000 homes have been allocated to be built across 11 villages, including Hixon.
William Conaghan, for the council, said: “The planning inspector has found our Local Plan was sound and it has been adopted. There is a right to challenge that decision within six weeks - which Gladman Developments has done.
“We are providing a statement to the court with evidence to show an appropriate amount of housing for the borough has been allocated and will strongly fight this legal challenge by a developer.”
Stone councillor Joyce Farnham is concerned the challenge will cause delays.
“That’s the worst possible outcome. For someone to come along after all the time and effort that has gone into this plan, and challenge it is an outstanding nuisance.
“Five hundred homes have already been allocated to Stone and every nook and cranny is being used. The Local Plan has carefully detailed the best outcome we can get.”
The Newsletter approached Gladman’s for comment but had not received a response at the time of going to press.
The challenge comes as Doug Webb, of Gnosall Resists Indiscriminate Development (GRID), prepares to visit Parliament with other groups on September 1 to dispute the Government’s National Planning Policy Framework.
He said: “The policy, which the Local Plan had to meet, is weighted against residents and councils, allowing developers to threaten legal action. This is happening across the country and it needs to be changed.
“We are not against appropriate development in the right place, but we want the chance to comment on housing schemes without being bullied by developers.”
Gaile Gregory, GRID secretary, said: “The fact that this appeal has been lodged at the very last minute means it’s been thrown like a spanner into the works.”
Karen Baxter, of Hall Farm Close, Hixon, said: “Developers seem more concerned with making a profit and less concerned with the people that already live in these villages.”
Steve Cartwright, also of Hall Farm Close, said: “By challenging the Local Plan, Gladman’s are defying all logic.”