Tories accused of giving ‘false hope’ to village over Milton Keynes planning row

A Conservative move to get council planners to think again over the implications of a controversial housing development was crushed when Labour and the Lib Dems teamed up.

The battle which played out at a meeting of Milton Keynes full council on Wednesday was over a plan for 95 homes in the village of Lavendon.

MK Council offices

MK Council offices

The principle of development had already been granted by a Government inspector.

But it transpired that the developer, David Wilson Homes, did not have to follow the council’s planning rules on the mix of three, four and five bedroom homes. A court case had re-written the planning rules.

The Tories say by agreeing to this the council has given up too easily on defending its policies. A councillor has claimed that this could lead to developers building “mansions” all over Milton Keynes.
They say there are about 7,000 homes in the planning pipeline over which the council now has no control.

A motion proposed by Olney Conservatives Cllr David Hosking and Cllr Peter Geary said the decision by the development control committee on November 7 was “irrational” and that the committee did not consider legal advice.

Cllr Geary said: “You should just pause, seek the advice of experts, think about it and take it back to development control committee. Think about the ramifications this may have.”

Pritesh Shah, from the developer David Wilson Homes said he thought the motion was “extremely patronising to the committee who felt confident enough to vote on the issue and did not defer it.”

He said they had changed the housing mix on the site to come closer to the council’s position, but legally they did not have to.

But Cllr Keith McLean (Cons, Olney) said David Wilson Homes could have adopted the housing mix if they wished. “They chose to ignore the policies, I can only assume for profit.”

Cllr Martin Gowans (Lab, Bletchley East), the council’s planning chief, said the power of full council to revoke a decision was only one for a last resort. He said the council could not overrule a court decision.

Cllr Ric Brackenbury (Lib Dem, Campbell Park and Old Woughton) said: “The rule to send back to development control committee are about digging the council out of a hole.

“This site had outline planning permission, we had to accept it. There is a question whether this motion represents an abuse of process.

“It is giving false hope to residents and I question whether it is serving the interests of the residents of Lavendon.”

Summing up, Cllr Hosking said: “This is not just about Lavendon, it is about the entire borough. It means you will accept that you have no control of the housing mix for 7,000 houses. Potentially none of these will now be three bedroom houses, which Milton Keynes needs.”

The motion was lost by 33 to 17 after the Labour and Lib Dem blocks of councillors outvoted the Tory group.