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Hagley homes delay down to legal questions over council report
2:52pm Wednesday 5th December 2012 in News
ARGUMENTS about a controversial Hagley housing application will continue over Christmas after planners shelved the issue at the last minute.
Bromsgrove District Council's planning committee was due to give their verdict a proposal by Cala Homes for a 175-property development on Monday night (December 3).
However the item was withdrawn just before the planning meeting was due to start following threats of a legal challenge from Hagley and Clent Parish Councils.
Hagley Parish Council chairman Steve Colella revealed Bromsgrove Council had received a letter from a barrister on Monday afternoon raising concerns about a report by council officers recommending the plan should be approved.
Cllr Colella said: “The purpose of this advice is to consider the lawfulness of a decision by the committee if it were to grant permission.
"The concern was raised in the formal objections from me, Hagley PC, Clent PC and from the appointed planning consultants (RCA) but was not sufficiently recognised in the officer’s report."
Protestors argue the homes, earmarked for a site on Kidderminster Road, would put too much pressure on village roads, schools and medical services.
The item was pulled from the agenda after council bosses decided they needed to seek their own legal advice before making on a decision.
Leading anti-Cala campaigner, Francesca Evans, from Hagley, said: "I think we have shown them we mean business and that we have grounds to stop this going ahead.
"The barrister's letter summed up concerns that due process had not been followed, and that the land had to be treated legally as greenbelt. It questioned a number of assumptions by the case officer as being inaccurate."
Cala Homes say their plans include a million pound contribution to road upgrades in Hagley while other services will also get cash boosts for improvements to cope with extra residents.
Darren Humphreys, regional managing director for Cala Homes Midlands, said: "We understand Bromsgrove District Council's decision to defer while they consider the points raised by the parish council in their legal opinion submitted on Monday afternoon.
"We will continue to work with the district council and understand that a decision on our application will be made at the next available committee."
Although no new date was set for the application to be considered, a spokesman said Bromsgrove District councillors are keen to deal with the matter as soon as possible.
Cllr Colella added: "It extends the period of uncertainty for all parties, however, the legality and appropriateness of the site for development has been raised on many occasions over several years by Hagley Parish Council and the elected ward councillors.
"All parties need to be sure that the correct process has been followed."