Council bosses have been forced to undertake a review into the thousands of homes planned for Nuneaton and Bedworth.
The opposing Conservatives, supported by Green Party councillor Keith Kondakor and rebel Labour councillor Makayla Rudkin, forced through a motion that demanded that the Town Hall immediately look at the number of new homes planned in the controversial Borough Plan.ADVERTISING
The Borough Plan is a blueprint for all future development across the borough and includes up to 14,000 homes, several thousand of which are ‘overspill’ from neighbouring Coventry.
It was during a stormy, six hour virtual full council meeting that the motion for an urgent review
Councillor Neil Phillips, cabinet member for planning at the Town Hall, was insistent that the Labour council’s local plan committee had the issue at hand – including revealing a timetable for action for September, and said the motion was not needed.
But Cllr Kyle Evans said the council had promised to review the numbers of homes ‘as soon as possible’ back in April last year – and that had not yet happened.
He seconded a motion he proposed that called on the council to carry out an urgent review.
Clllr Kris Wilson, leader of the opposing Tories, said: ” I accept we have Covid but that does not prevent any work, some planning officers could be working on things from home for the borough plan review
“The local plan timetable is motherhood and apple pie, it does not set a deadline.
“We want to get this moving, voting to trigger a legal mechanism – it will speak volumes for residents left feeling trampled by this authority.
“It is time for you [Labour] to put your money where your mouth is, let’s do this right by the residents for a change.
“There was a petition signed by over 6,500 people who wanted a review and so far we haven’t been listening as a council, we need to start listening urgently, have the courage and guts to vote for this review now.”
Cllr Keith Kondakor said latest data shows that the borough needs 7,300 homes, not the 14,000 not 15,000 in the current Borough Plan.
“I have been saying all these years, we need to build 300-400 houses a year, there is a need for housing but not a need to build 14,000 to 15,000 homes – if you try to build it, you start getting empty housing,” he said.
“The whole system then starts collapsing, there is naturally a supply of people, if you try and have a plan that ignores the fundamentals about the amount of people you will have, half built estates, we won’t reach the trigger points to build schools or GP surgeries and all you end up with is a mess of housing with poor infrastructure.
“The quicker we get really into this, the better so we build the right number of houses.”
After further debate, Cllr Neil Phillips responded to the motion, saying: “It was well meaning but poorly timed. The local plan committee on July 1, a report on this was considered.
“It was resolved that it be recommended to cabinet that, subject to government guidance, there would be a revised scheme for a clear timetable by the end of September 2020
“There would be a first draft of a list of policies that would be suggested for review – we have 41 policies, some need reviewing, some won’t, it is all evidence based.”
He said the issues of numbers and how they are calculated comes from government – and an update is expected.
He added: “A major assessment of the housing and employment needs of the region – we wouldn’t be able to do this tomorrow.”
He said such a review, which would be based on a sub regional approach, could cost up to £100,000.
Cllr Phillips concluded: “We are moving forward but we are moving forward within the guidelines that we can work with, that is a fact and that is a legal fact.”
But when it came to the vote, the motion was passed with 17 in favour, 16 against. Bedworth Labour councillor Makayla Rudkin broke ranks to side with the Tories.