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Stourport planning concerns on agenda with minister
"SIGNIFICANT" Stourport planning issues have been discussed by Wyre Forest's MP with the Government's planning minister - including proposals for a Tesco Express at Areley Kings and 62 houses at Astley Cross.
Mark Garnier has met fellow Conservative MP Nick Boles to discuss the impact of the planned 62 houses at Pearl Lane, Astley Cross, which could see Malvern Hills District Council receive council tax, a new homes bonus and section 106 contributions but the burden of the homes falling on Wyre Forest District Council - whose planning policy manager Rebecca Mayman was also at the meeting.
Mr Garnier said Malvern Hill District Council had recently approved the application despite plans being opposed by Astley and Dunley Parish Council, Wyre Forest District Council and Stourport Town Council, Mr Garnier himself and a number of local residents and raised concerns about the national planning policy framework and "unintended consequences" on neighbouring authorities.
He said: "This planning decision has important implications for Stourport. Council tax. The new homes bonus and section 106 contributions will all go to Malvern Hills, yet the burden of these new homes will fall on Wyre Forest and Stourport. This is unfair and makes a mockery of local determination.
"It was important to raise the concerns of the council with the minister and to make him aware of this grey area. I will be writing to the minister for confirmation of best practice in instances such as these to ensure a fair deal is reached for Wyre Forest.
"I am hopeful the discussions due to take place between Wyre Forest and Malvern Hills with regards to how the cost can best be distributed between the two authorities will be productive. I will continue to do everything I can to make sure services in Stourport are not negatively impacted by this development."
Mr Garnier also discussed a planning application submitted by Tesco to extend the Squirrel Pub at Arley Common, which it plans to turn into a Tesco Express. Planning law, however, does not require applications to seek permission to change a building's use from a pub to a convenience store which, Mr Garnier said, was a "worrying fault" with the regulations.
Tesco spokesman Simon Petar said, nevertheless, the company had submitted a full and legal application, which would, ultimately, be determined by councillors on planning grounds.
Mr Garnier said: "Residents of Areley Kings have contacted me with concerns. [Wyre Forest District Council leader, Conservative] Councillor Marcus Hart has also highlighted concerns about permitted development rights and the fact no planning permission is required to change a pub to a retail premises.
"This is a worrying fault with the planning regulations and Tesco is using this loophole to undermine much-loved local businesses and traders."
A decision on the application is due to be made by Wyre Forest's planning committee at a meeting next Tuesday (May 20)after being deferred last month for a site visit.
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