Cotswold District Council has "no control over district", admits cabinet member
A CABINET member has admitted Cotswold District Council has "no control over the district" and no power to stop developers forcing through planning applications.
Cllr David Fowles’ (Con, Hampton) comments at last week’s meeting of Stow-on-the-Wold Town Council came as it was revealed the authority’s local plan - a masterplan to shape future development - has been delayed until 2015, leading to concerns the beauty of the Cotwolds could be lost forever.
The document will detail the council’s plans and policies for development across the district and will be taken into account when government inspectors consider applications and appeals.
The lack of a plan was criticised in two successful planning appeals for 300 new homes in Tetbury this month.
CDC had refused the plans and the decision to overturn that decision led CDC leader Lyndon Stowe to accuse Government appeal inspectors of "allowing the Cotswolds to be concreted over".
That decision will mean an extra 500 homes will be built in Tetbury.
Permission has also been granted for 368 homes in Upper Rissington along with a new school, shops and other buildings, while applications have also been made for potentially massive developments in Stow-on-the-Wold, Bourton-on-the-Water, Fairford, South Cerney and other communities.
Describing the situation in Tetbury as a "tragedy", Cllr Fowles said developers had taken advantage of the lack of a local plan to "steamroll" applications through.
"We don’t want this to continue but at the same time we do recognise that there needs to be houses," he said.
"It needs to be dealt with at Westminster that decisions such as Tetbury were allowed to happen."
Cotswold Liberal Democrat leader Cllr Paul Hodgkinson said CDC's delay in adopting a local plan was "a disgrace" that left communities vulnerable to developers forcing applications through.
"The council’s administration has been sleeping on the job," he said. "This means the door has been left open for developers."
Former Stow town councillor Jenny Turner said councils and residents across the Cotswolds – including CDC – needed to work together to save the district.
"We are all fighting the same battle but we are not working together in our battle plan," she said.
"We need to fight on a single battle front right across the whole of the Cotswolds. If we don't developers are going to walk away with millions and leave the Cotswolds ruined."
A CDC spokesman told the Standard the authority was due to meet today (Thursday) where a decision to develop a local plan by 2015 was expected.
The authority’s original plans to develop a core strategy, which includes wider consultation, may not have been completed until 2017, he said.
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