A planning application for 61 homes at the Old Railway site in Lechlade causes controversy
A PLANNING application in Lechlade has caused a double hit of controversy after it was revealed the developer has been asked to contribute towards Gloucestershire County Council 's library service – even though the authority will stop funding the town's facility at the end of next month.
The scheme for 61 homes at the Old Railway site in the town was already proving controversial as applicant Hunter Page Planning had been told it must remove a redundant bridge as part of its plans.
The developer had said it could only do this if much needed affordable housing was scrapped from the scheme.
At a meeting of Cotswold District Council ’s planning committee last week, Cllr Sue Coakley (Ind, Kempsford-Lechlade) said she was shocked that the applicant was being asked to fund libraries when GCC had cut funding from the town's facility.
"There would be absolute outrage in Lechlade if you give any money to the council for libraries," said Cllr Coakley, who is running the community group of volunteers set to take over the town's library from November.
"There are local community needs that section 106 money can be used for. Please don’t give it to a council which is not going to provide a library service for this community."
However a spokesman for GCC this week said it was up to local councillors to lobby for funding for community facilities.
“We’ll always try to secure Section 106 funding for statutory libraries whenever we can," he said. "We would encourage local councillors and communities to lobby for developer contributions for community facilities.”
One element of the plan that local residents were in favour of was that it could provide affordable housing in the town.
But Hunter Page has said that it would be financially unviable to do so if it was expected to remove a disused bridge over the former railway line.
Planning officer Kevin Field said it was not clear how much affordable housing would now be included.
"We will do our best to get it delivered and hopefully include some affordable housing, but the economics may not work out," he said.
A CDC spokesman said this week the authority's planning department was currently considering the developer’s claims.
The application was deferred by the planning committee while further information around the conditions is made available.