Minister calls in controversial Bovis plans

Cotswold Journal: Cotswold MP Geoffrey Clifton-Brown with the letter he received from MP Nick Boles Cotswold MP Geoffrey Clifton-Brown with the letter he received from MP Nick Boles

CONTROVERSIAL plans to build 146 new homes in Stow are now being decided by the Secretary of State following an unprecedented intervention by Cotswold MP Geoffrey Clifton-Brown.

The move comes after Mr Clifton-Brown wrote a letter to MP Nick Boles, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Planning, asking for the plans to be called in.

It is an unparalleled move for Mr Clifton-Brown who for the first time in his two decades in parliament, has formally objected to a planning application.

As previously reported, applicant Bovis Homes lodged an appeal last October on the grounds of Cotswold District Council’s (CDC) non-determination of the outline plans to build on land to the east of Griffin Close, near Oddington Road.

The inspector did not close the the four-day inquiry - which resumed on March 25 after it was adjourned from January - after CDC presented new housing figures which showed they had more than a five year supply.

The Planning Inspector is due to announce a date for the hearing to resume when he has considered the new information but instead of publishing the results himself, he will send a report to the Secretary of State who will then make the final decision on the application.

"Almost unprecedentedly in my 22 years as a Member of Parliament I formally objected to this application on the grounds of its impact on the Cotswolds AONB," said Mr Clifton-Brown.

“I also hosted a public meeting in Stow in May 2013 for members of the public to express their views on the application, which was attended by over 200 people.

“The fact that the Planning Minister has confirmed that Cotswold District Council has met its five year land supply should help considerably in the fight to reject this application.

“I am delighted that the Minister has decided to call this application in and I hope it will result in the application being rejected.”

The majority of planning appeals in England are decided by inspectors but a small percentage are determined by the Secretary of State, usually because the development is large and or controversial.

Each year, about 27,000 appeals are made each year and in 2007, just 110 appeals were decided by the Secretary of State.

Stow Mayor Alun White said: "It all depends on how the resumed inquiry goes on CDC's new housing figures. Providing they can defend those, I would think there is a very good chance the Bovis appeal will be rejected.

"We are so grateful to Mr Clifton-Brown for his taking it up with the secretary of state. We really appreciate it."

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