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Stafford Borough's Local Plan finally comes to fruition

By Kerry.Ashdown  |  Posted: June 20, 2014

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The legal document will provide a blueprint for development in the borough for the next 17 years.

But its preparation started in 2001 and has taken 13 years – a third of planning manager Alex Yendole’s lifetime – councillors were told at a meeting last night.

They voted unanimously to formally adopt the plan.

In recent months the council has been deluged with planning applications, submitted by developers determined to get them passed before the Local Plan came into force. Communities in Stone, Gnosall, Hixon and the Haywoods are among those who have raised concerns about the number of developers targeting their areas.

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Councillor Frances Beatty, cabinet member for planning and regeneration, said: “We are currently swamped with 51 major planning applications and numerous planning appeals, as our development management team know only too well.

“Developers have been jumping on the bandwagon to get plans through the system before the plan is adopted.

“We are now one of just 13 per cent of councils nationally with an approved plan.”

Councillor Margaret Goodall said: “Now we can say no, with great confidence, to any last-minute applications by developers. All councillors in this chamber have had to bite the bullet, on more than occasion, and accept the inevitable.”

But those who have been waiting with interest for the development of an eastern bypass in Stafford will have to hold on for at least 17 more years, as the proposal was not included in the plan.

Councillor Rowan Draper questioned the omission of the Eastern Distributor Road project. He said: “I am told by older and wiser colleagues the road has been talked about since the 1950s.”

Councillor Beatty responded: “The county council cannot confirm they could build it in the 20 year period of the plan. We are required to produce a plan that is sound in that it is achievable in the plan period.”

The future of Stone’s popular Westbridge Park, and the town’s leisure facilities, was also debated.

Councillors Jill Hood and Philip Leason welcomed the council’s decision to drop proposals on the edge of the park which many people feared could pave the way for a supermarket. They also spoke of the need to update the town’s leisure facilities.

But Councillor Joyce Farnham said: “In Stone we were offered £4 million for a leisure centre in Westbridge Park. I doubt it will ever happen again.

“Future generations will rue the day we decided not to develop the land.”

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