Councillors in Lichfield and Burntwood have been told they would “hand the keys to paradise” over to developers if they delayed the Local Plan process.
The local authority’s cabinet opted to press ahead with the document, which outlines proposals for the future of Lichfield and Burntwood over the next 20 years.
Members had disagreed over whether to push ahead or revisit the document once a public consultation had been carried out.
An amendment, which would have seen the draft Local Plan 2040 go back to the cabinet after the next stage of the process, was defeated in a vote.
Cllr Angela Lax told the meeting she could see the possible benefits of reviewing the proposals – but said delaying the plan would open the door for unacceptable developments across the district.
“I’d love us to be able to go back over it but I think the position is very clear.
“We do have the fall back of if the consultation comes back with real concerns and we have adjustments we can make within five years.
“We’re often told Lichfield is a developers’ paradise – we will hand them the keys to paradise if we don’t get this plan sorted.”Cllr Angela Lax, Lichfield District Council
The meeting was told that delays could see the Local Plan – which has proposed more than 9,700 houses across Lichfield and Burntwood over the next 20 years – have to be revisited under new planning white paper proposals.
Cllr Iain Eadie, cabinet member responsible for the plan, said such a move could add another 2,000 homes to the total needed.
“At the moment, the bulk of our housing numbers are identified under the local housing need formula.
“What’s set out in the white paper is a revision to that formula. If we produce a local plan under the new rules set out it will be to the detriment of this district.
“If we delay, we have to make a new Local Plan under that formula and we will be building more houses.
“Government has clearly signalled it wishes to see more houses being built not less.”Cllr Iain Eadie, Lichfield District Council
Cllr Ashley Yeates questioned whether the council should take the “brave” step and allow further scrutiny of the plan.
“We’ve got an opportunity with what’s gone on with COVID to go back and review this.
“Let’s put it out for consultation, see what it brings back then maybe bring it back to cabinet so we can look at it.
“It’s a brave thing to do because if we don’t do this, we potentially will get 2,000 more houses.”Cllr Ashley Yeates, Lichfield District Council
But Cllr Rob Strachan said the dangers of delaying the Local Plan process were too great.
“The risk of us losing control our own planning regulations is real and too great for me to accept.”Cllr Rob Strachan, Lichfield District Council