Marston Sicca Parish Council

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Marston SiccaLocal NewsBARD News > Comments From David Bliss re SDC  Decision
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Comments From David Bliss re SDC Decision

Dear all

I am sure that you, like me, are bitterly disappointed by Stratford District Council Planning Committee’s decision last night to ignore the evidence-based concerns of parish councils and members of the public affected by proposed development, by granting planning permission for St Modwen’s masterplan for Long Marston. You will be aware that huge amounts of time and effort had been expended, on a voluntary basis, by many local people horrified by the prospect of development as proposed. The vote could not have been closer, with a 7-6 vote in favour.

I would like to extend a personal thanks in particular to Cllr Mike Brain and Parish Councillors Joan Matthews and Mike Walesby, whose tireless campaigning on behalf of those they represent has been exemplary. Alongside their impassioned speeches last night, we also remain grateful to planning consultant Andy Murphy, and the legal team who have guided us so well on matters which required expert advice. I should also like to make mention of the voluntary efforts my wife Hilary has put in, to sustaining this campaign over the last two years.

It is testimony to voluntary work of so many dedicated individuals that the level of opposition to this application was unprecedented. 22 parish councils, 2 District Councils, 2 County Councils, 1 Regional Authority, 3 MPs and a number of statutory consultees. That is why it beggars belief that the Council’s Planning Department recommended to the Planning Committee to grant the Masterplan proposal, which one too many of them duly did.

As you will know, we welcomed the leisure aspects of the development, but 500 permanent dwellings, with 300 holiday homes, as well as an industrial/employment site as large as a Regional Logistics Centre, is patently inappropriate for this remote rural area and will swamp the villages and communities that surround the site.

Sadly, the Planning Committee did not take proper heed of the expert legal opinion we circulated prior to the meeting, that made it clear the Committee members could choose to proceed with the leisure aspects of the plan whilst rejecting the housing and industrial components. It was clear almost from the outset of the meeting that this “Wheatcroft” option would have been preferable for the majority of Councillors but, swayed by legal advisor to the Council in attendance on the night, they (mistakenly, according to our advice) believed that their only choice was to grant or refuse the whole application. Therefore the vote was passed by the narrowest of margins.

It remains extremely galling that 7 of our district councillors simply have not heeded the multitudinous voices of concern. Clearly the Council appears not to wish to act in the best interests of their electorate who are most-affected by this development - so we will take up the mantle. Since the Masterplan is so obviously contrary to local and regional policy, we shall be inviting the Secretary of State to call it in for consideration. Rest assured, we will continue to explore every legal avenue in order to expose the inherent flaws in the Masterplan until such time as a more sustainable solution can be provided by St Modwen.

In short, my message to you is: down, but by no means out.

We will keep you updated on our progress and thank you again for your continued support.

David Bliss

Co-ordinator of the Joint Parish Councils Working Group


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