Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Appeal over Four Ashes homes fails

A CONTROVERSIAL housing plan for Bentley Heath has been rejected on appeal as not enough homes are proposed.

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Crest Nicholson has lost an appeal at the independent Planning Inspectorate for 38 homes on a field at Four Ashes Road, Bentley Heath.

It appealed as Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council had not made a decision on the plan. A public hearing was held on the appeal last month.

The inspector said the plan did not provide enough homes and a wide enough range of sizes.

The 38 homes equates to 29.7 units per hectare but council policy for new housing says this should be 30 to 50.

The authority has also earmarked the site for housing with a guide of 40 units per hectare, which would mean 51 homes at the site.

The appeal report – released today – says: “The sustainable location of the site would justify a higher density of development which could be accommodated without detriment to the character of the area.”

Some 15 of the homes would be affordable while 23 would be four-bedroom homes at market value.

But the report says “an appropriate range of market dwellings would not be provided by the appeal scheme”.

This acknowledged the market value homes would cost “significantly less” than the average price for similar properties in the area and would sell well.

And the inspector said the plan would have “no detriment” or “little harm” to neighbours.

It says: “Whilst the loss of the open fields would have an effect on the character of the area, the principle of developing the land has been established.”

And it said the council’s highways department had not objected and inspector said the plan would have no “detriment to highway safety”.

Crest Nicholson said it would give cash to expand Arden school, which has a capacity of 1,200 pupils but currently has 1,222 on roll.

Yet the council will have to pay part of the firm’s appealcosts as it was “unreasonable” for not making clear its objections on housing mix until after the appeal was lodged, the inspector found. The figure will now be agreed.

In June, councillors objected to the scheme, saying it did not provide the right mix of homes.

That month, another planning application was made for a two-storey building for 51 “extra care apartments” for OAPs to the south of the site. No decision has been made.