Wokingham Council loses appeal over 20 homes in Swallowfield

A SENIOR councillor has hit out after the planning inspectorate overuled the council’s planning committee.

Last week, Turley Homes won an appeal over 20 homes on land to the west of Trowes Lane, Swallowfield.

The inspector, I Jenkins, said: “The Council has confirmed that it is unable to demonstrate a five-year supply of deliverable housing sites.

“I have found that the proposal would undermine the Council’s spatial development strategy and would harm the character of the local area. However, the adverse impacts would not significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits.”

This is something that the council argues is because of developers landbanking: sitting on land where planning permission has been granted instead of building the homes.

Cllr David Lee, executive member for strategic planning and transport said: “This is another scandalous example of a developer getting permission through the back door because of the ridiculous way the five-year-land supply rules are enforced.

“We have granted permission for 9,500 homes but some developers are not building those homes at the speed they should be. Instead, they are sitting on the land and doing nothing – except plotting more appeals for more inappropriate developments.

“We are lobbying the Government to get these rules changed and are looking for any local partners – town and parish councils, concerned residents and politicians of all colours to join our efforts.

“We would also point out that we are seeking legal advice following the St Modwen legal ruling in the high court in late 2017 which seems supportive of our view on the five-year-housing-land supply.

“There is a need for housing and we are doing more than our bit to deliver, but the current system allows developers to get more and more inappropriate planning permissions because of their own failure to build houses. This should be stopped and I am calling on all local groups to support our effort to get it changed.”

The view was echoed by Cllr Lindsay Ferris, the Liberal Democrat leader.

He said: “Developers have to realise that there are only so many homes we can take. In our manifesto, we are challenging these numbers.”

Turley was contacted for a comment.

Phil Creighton

Editor of The Wokingham Paper, and has worked in local journalism for more than 20 years including the Wokingham Times, Bracknell Standard and Reading Evening Post. He's also written for computer magazines, The Baptist Times and, to his delight and probably not yours, interviewed several Doctor Whos.

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