Nexus Planning, on behalf of Commercial Estates Group and the Bird Group, has submitted an outline planning application for a proposed new settlement on land adjacent to the village of Lighthorne Heath, near Gaydon, Warwickshire.
The application for a first phase of 2,000 new homes includes a village centre with supermarket and elderly accommodation, a new primary school, community hub, health centre, sports and recreation facilities, and a 47 hectare managed ecological reserve.
Overall, the Lighthorne Heath development will comprise up to 5,000 dwellings, a new Rural Service Centre, employment, education and open space. The promotion of land is a joint venture between Commercial Estates Group and The Bird Group who have a joint promotion agreement with the landowners Mann and White, whose land comprises approximately 90% of the total site area.
The initial 140 hectare site forms the first phase of a 300 hectare strategic allocation identified in Stratford-on-Avon District Council’s emerging Core Strategy for 3,000 new dwellings, 100 hectares of land for the expansion of Jaguar Land Rover, and 4.5 hectares of land for the expansion of Aston Martin Lagonda. The site is located along the M40 corridor within an area of significant high value automotive related research and development investment.
Jaguar Land Rover and Aston Martin Lagonda employ circa 7,000 staff in their research and production facilities immediately adjacent to the site with the strategic allocation providing scope for further expansion.
Nexus Planning submitted the planning application in collaboration with placemaking practice, John Thompson & Partners, following a period of extensive public consultation and stakeholder engagement over the last two years.
In line with a paradigm shift in planning rhetoric, new settlements based on Garden City principles are back on the planning agenda.
Stratford District Council Leader, Chris Saint said: “Government policy tells us to look at this sort of solution. We have appraised the scheme and thought it worthy of consultation.” The Council are required to build 9,500 new homes by 2028.
When complete, the new settlement would be the second largest settlement in the district with only Stratford upon Avon town being larger.
Phased development plans
The plans have drawn fierce opposition from local village communities concerned that the quintessentially English rural character of the landscape will be lost forever. An action group, FORSE (Friends of a Rural and Sustainable Environment) has been established by local residents concerned that the development is neither appropriate nor sustainable and would have an extremely negative impact on life in the local area.
The picturesque village of Kineton
This development will impact the whole of south Warwickshire, in particular residents of nearby villages such as Kineton, Bishop’s Itchington, Chesterton, Moreton Morrell, Bishop’s Tachbrook, Harbury and Wellesbourne.
Laura Steel, chair of Lighthorne Parish Council and FORSE, said the site itself would be “fundamentally unsuitable for a development of this size”.
They have taken legal advice on whether the council has gathered the evidence legally required for the scheme. Mrs Steel said: “We believe the impact of this large town simply hasn’t been properly researched.
“The traffic studies alone are wholly inadequate… and without that body of evidence Stratford District Council shouldn’t be pushing forward when they simply don’t know themselves the impact on the wider environment.”
Tony Bird, chairman of developers The Bird Group, said: “The location at Lighthorne Heath is an ideal opportunity for a new settlement and it is already an established employment hub location, home to Jaguar Land Rover and Aston Martin.
“We are proposing a further 50 acres of employment land to enable residents to live and work in the same location.”
Richard Burke, from developers Commercial Estates Group, said the scheme would provide “employment, cultural opportunities, a mix of housing types, shops, schools and facilities, as well as a country park and other biodiversity”.
If the proposed scheme goes ahead, it is anticipated 1,900 new homes would be built by 2028, with the remaining to follow in phases.