Tamworth is saying “no” to Lichfield over a 1,000-home development that would swamp the local infrastructure.
People from Streethay to Alrewas had to look on in horror while Lichfield District Council (LDC) dumped mass development on them.
It seemed the politicians never gave a thought about the impact it would have on the residents’ lives, or their already buckling and dangerous road system.
Lichfield ‘s decision
But Tamworth Borough Council (TBC) appears determined that the same will not happen to people on their patch.
Developers want to build 1,000 houses plus a shop and school at Arkall Farm, just to the north of the town.
Although it is in TBC’s area, LDC is the authority that rules over planning issues.
Tamworth’s councillors say their roads simply will not cope with the traffic so many new homes would create and are urging LDC colleagues to reject the plans.
The developers claim the Ashby Road and Gungate road corridor could cope with the pressure from an extra 200 houses. And they say planned improvements to a local junction would push that up to 300.
Once those houses are up they want the council to watch what impact it has and, when the conditions allow it, they want to put up the other 700 houses.
TBC cites studies showing the local roads could not cope with more housing than is already planned for the area.
The members say major network improvements would have to be made before any more could be built.
They also say Tamworth would suffer all of the impact of the development but receive no extra council tax or ‘New Homes Bonus’.
And they claim the idea of monitoring the traffic until conditions were right for the last 700 properties is a non-starter.
Councillor Steve Claymore said: “It would not lead to good planning, or sustainable development.
“Nor will it deliver the much needed infrastructure and connectivity that future communities deserve.”
They must pay
He said if the developers were given the green light they should be made to pay towards road improvements and education and leisure facilities.
Coun. Claymore wanted them to sign an agreement under section 106 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.
Such bargains commit companies to paying money if they get planning permission.
But in clumsy hands, ‘106’ can go wrong.
LDC struck a 106 deal with one developer who agreed to pay up once he had built all his houses.
He stopped building just short of the quota. LDC was left with red faces and no money. The community that suffered the development’s impact received nothing.
When, in 2010, the then housing minister Grant Shapps announced the New Homes Bonus it was slammed as a con that would cost billions.
The idea was to match for six years the amount local councils received in council tax on each new home.
Shapps, said: “We will not tell communities how or where to build.
“But the New Homes Bonus will ensure that those communities that go for growth reap the benefits of development, not just the costs.”
By 2012 it was clear that councils were not passing the benefit on to their council taxpayers.
Eighteen per cent of authorities had failed to even make up their minds on how to spend the windfall.
Another 54 per cent of councils were using the cash to shore up gaping holes in budgets caused by savage Tory cuts.
Only 29 per cent were using the cash on housing development and community projects.
The Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) is yet another dubious Tory scheme for ‘rewarding’ residents willing to accept unwanted developments.
It allows councils to charge developers a tax for every square metre of new building they put up.
It was crassly sold by the Conservatives as a way for communities to make a pile of cash to spend on pretty much whatever they wanted.
To reap the full benefit their district councils had to have Local Plan in place and they had to have a Neighbourhood Plan (NP).
Fradley missed out
Fradley is reckoned to have lost out on more that £1.5 million in CIL payments after LDC swamped it with unwanted new housing schemes.
The village might have had an NP in place in time but for an embarrassing false start, in 2012.
The district’s current Tory ‘leader’, Michael Wilcox, has admitted failing to give his predecessor enough support when he tried to get things moving.
Toxic Tory leader
An NP group was created 18 months later. Several people quit after it was suggested Wilcox should be involved.
Numerous resignations have followed since. It still looks as though it will be years before Fradley has an NP in place.
Toxic ‘LDC’ effect