Morton Way housing plans in Thornbury to go through second public inquiry after developer Bloor Homes appeals to Secretary of State
DEVELOPERS determined to build 300 homes at Morton Way in Thornbury have angered townspeople and councillors by pushing for an extra public inquiry to be held to determine the controversial plans.
Dissatisfied with South Gloucestershire Council’s apparent failure to consider its application in good time, Bloor Homes has appealed to the Secretary of State to set up a hearing to look at its proposals.
The appeal conflicts with the upcoming examination on Thursday, March 7, to be led by planning inspector Paul Crysell, to decide whether Morton Way is in fact the appropriate site for a large development.
Planning bosses have between eight and 13 weeks to consider an application but with the examination pending, the decision was not theirs to make anymore. This protracted process led Bloor Homes to appeal.
Morton Way was thrown into the housing mix at a late stage after Mr Crysell, who was charged with scrutinising the local authority’s core strategy, asked planners to find space for an extra 800 homes in the district.
South Gloucestershire Council opposed the move and rejected Bloor Homes’s application in principle but agreed, if the inspector persisted with his demands, to earmark land at Morton Way for housing.
Whatever Mr Crysell’s decision next month, the application will go to appeal in April following Bloor Homes' latest move and be subject to a separate inquiry led by a different inspector who way well overrule him.
This confusing state of affairs left both councillors and townspeople reeling at a meeting of South Gloucestershire Council’s development west committee on Thursday, February 21, convened to discuss the plans.
Campaigners as well as a pair of Thornbury town councillors blasted the application, telling members residents were "upset and concerned" with the proposal.
Preserve Morton Way spokesman Gerry Pitman said: "Morton Way is the town’s last natural barrier. Once it is breached in even the smallest possible way, we will have on our hands a tsunami of uncontrolled development."
Although they sympathised with locals’ plight, Cllr Pat Hockey explained that the ultimate call was out of councillors’ hands.
"It’s confusing to us," she said. "We’re still hoping that we can convince the inspector dealing with the core strategy that can’t sustainably accommodate this number of houses.
"We are not masters in our own court anymore. This is where we are. That’s what we are facing."
If Mr Crysell decides at least 250 homes should be built on Morton Way, the council has said it will withdraw its objection, meaning that the appeal would be a mere formality.
But if Mr Crysell changes his mind and sides with the council, it is unclear what would then happen at the appeal.
Bloor Homes was not available for comment.