THE FATE of land at Middle Battenhall farm will be decided by the planning inspectorate, despite city planning chiefs voting to reject the proposals.
An application for 200 homes on the historic site is no longer in Worcester City Council’s hands as it has taken longer than the allocated time for the committee to reach a decision.
Committee members met on Thursday (August 20) to debate what their position on development would be and declared they would of rejected the application.
The vote five councillors voting to reject the plans while five approved the scheme, with Coun Andy Stafford abstaining. Chairman Coun Alan Amos used his final say to vote for the council to defend the land at the public enquiry.
Councillors went against the advice of the planning officers who recommended to approve the site which Coun Pat Agar described as ‘the only place in Worcester you can visualise the strategy behind the battle formations’.
Concerns were shown during the meeting for the need for a five year land supply which this project would go a long a way towards, however councillors were concerned with the prematurity of the application to build on Middle Battenhall Farm as it is not on the South Worcestershire Development Plan (SWDP).
Coun Steve McKay outlined several similar applications that were put forward throughout the country that were refused in familiar circumstances including 160 homes in Chichester, 6,000 homes in Ailesbury and 350 homes in Stratford all declined even without a five year land supply.
He said the development would damage the heritage of Worcester, the tourism, biodiversity and increase the flood risk.
Those points were reinforced by Coun Simon Cronin who said: “By the time people are living in the houses and are up to their ankles in water the whole thing will be done and dusted.”
He described the application as opportunistic and taking advantage of the gap in the SWDP.
“I would like to urge member not to be intimidated by threats costs of defending the appeal, and stick to the view taken in previous meetings,” he added.
Coun Amos said: “We must look after the development of this great city of ours and there will be development as long as it is in the right way and in right locations, it is our job as councillors to take into account the best interests of the city.
“When I have walked around and seen some of the horrific decisions made in the past I told myself I am not going to do that.”