CAMPAIGNERS trying to stop the controversial development of 505 homes on the Whitford Road and Greyhound Inn sites have been dealt a blow after the Planning Inspector granted outline permission for the scheme.
It follows an appeal by developers Catesby Estates and Miller Homes after the council threw out the plans are split across the two sites.
The main site in the application, off Whitford Road, has 490 properties, a shop, new access roads, public open space and landscaping planned for it.
The second site would see the Greyhound Inn pub bulldozed to make way for 15 homes and a new roundabout.
One of the main issues campaign group Whitford Vale Voice (WVV) highlighted was the impact of extra traffic on already congested roads.
Inspector Richard Clegg said in his report the package of mitigation measures – previously outlined by the developers as a £6.7million scheme – would address those highways issues.
Among the alterations would be a roundabout on the Fox Lane junction, changes to the mini roundabout at the Charford Road junction and signals used on a staggered junction at Kidderminster Road.
It would also include a £1.3million contribution to Worcestershire County Council’s A38 Bromsgrove Route Enhancement Programme.
WVV have constantly campaigned on the need for a Western Relief Road which would enable the traffic to bypass the centre of the town. They say if the development in its current form went ahead it would destroy any future hope of creating one.
They also maintained they were not against any development on the site but felt such was the space it could have accommodated less homes and the relief road.
The developer will also be required to contribute £885,000 towards the cost of a new school or the expansion of an existing one.
And there would be contributions towards South Bromsgrove High School – £867 per two or more bedroom flat, £2,168 per two/ three bedroom property (except flats), and £3,252 per four or more bedroom homes (except flats).
The Inspector said he felt the proposals complied with Bromsgrove’s development plan.
Concluding his 32-page report he said: “Not only does the appeal proposal comply with the Development Plan as a whole, it would bring forward one of the key town expansion sites allocated under Policy BDP5A.
“Site A has a crucial role in contributing to the supply of housing land, and its development would boost the provision of market and affordable housing in Bromsgrove.
“These are considerable benefits which clearly outweigh the limited harm which I have identified.”
A spokesperson for Whitford Vale Voice said they were disappointed by the decision.
“While this is a set-back WVV will continue to oppose the Perryfields development and campaign for a Western Distributor Road.
“What will happen next is that the developer will sell the large Whitford field to a house builder while the smaller field will be built on by Miller Homes.
“We are expecting three separate reserved matters planning applications for the layout of the estate roads and the design of the houses.
“During each application WVV will be making the case for reserving a tract of land across the site for the construction of the distributor road.”
The group added the concerns expressed throughout the planning process – including traffic, highway safety, air and noise pollution, bus services and the development’s sustainability had not gone away.
They have vowed to hold the developers to account and ensure the promises made would not be broken.
And they said they will fight to ensure when a detailed application was submitted to the council that the access from Albert Road was safe and sufficient parking is provided so the on-street parking situation in Albert Road did not worsen further.
Coun Luke Mallett, who has also campaigned alongside WVV, described it as a ‘very poor decision’.
“It’s outrageous that a Government agency should overturn local democracy and not listen to the views of Bromsgrove residents, whilst not actually getting answers from the developers to the many problems within this proposal.
“Instead of refusing permission the inspector has chosen to kick decisions on issues such as road safety down the track.
“Of course we need houses, but it cannot be at the cost of gridlock, air pollution and risking road safety.
“If this build does ultimately get full planning permission we will lose the opportunity for a relief road for ever.
“This decision could also let the developer off the hook for the impact they will have on areas like Millfields.”
Bromsgrove District Council leader, Coun Karen May, said: “We acknowledge the inspector’s decision on this matter.
“We will now consider all the points raised in the inspector’s detailed report.”