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Controversial plan to tear down two Aldridge houses and build six properties set to be decided

A controversial proposal to tear down two Aldridge houses and build six properties on the land is set to be decided this week.

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Residents living in and around Little Aston Road who are against plans to build six homes on the site of two existing homes

The plan by Levison Homes to demolish two homes on Little Aston Road was deferred at a stormy Walsall Council planning committee meeting in October, despite officers recommending refusal.

The original plan was for four houses and two bungalows whilst the amended proposal now proposes two homes and four bungalows.

But, despite the revised proposal addressing a number of original concerns, planning officers said the development still falls short and have recommended refusal again.

In a report to Thursday’s (February 8) meeting, officers said it represented unacceptable back-land development which is out of character with the rest of the area and would result in excessive bin drag-out differences.

The applicants said the homes would help address a housing shortage across the borough, adding it was an ‘efficient use of land’ and not over development.

Residents, who strongly opposed the first plan, are again objecting sighting concerns around inappropriate back-land development, highway safety issues, fear of crime and drag-out distances for bins and have appointed Lapworth Architects to represent their concerns at the meeting.

A legal letter has also been sent to the council which raises concerns some councillors who sit on the planning committee have connections with Mark and Beverley Brindley, who own one of the houses.

The letter said Councillors Mike Bird, Mark Statham, John Murray and Vera Waters had connections with the James Brindley Foundation – set up in memory of the couple’s son who was tragically murdered – and therefore should not sit in this meeting to avoid the appearance of bias.

It said the connections included arranging and supporting fund-raising events and awarding grants to the charity.

At the first meeting, Councillor Bird did not attend but the letter, by planning barrister Christian Hawley, said no interests were declared at the first meeting.

He said: “To be clear none of these activities are objectionable or inappropriate.

“The issue is whether or not councillors who have had considerable involvement with the Foundation can properly sit on a planning committee tasked with determining a planning application the approval of which would benefit the founding trustees of the Foundation.”

He added Councillor Aftab Nawaz, who proposed the motion to defer the original application, had been pictured with Mr Brindley in December and should also not sit in the meeting as the applicant had been given an opportunity to meet with a committee member.

A Council spokesperson said: “The council has confirmed that substitutes are not permitted on Planning Committee and that it is for each member to determine whether or not they should disclose an interest in any matter to be considered.

“Planning applications may be deferred by committee, should there be appropriate reasons for doing so.”

Another issue raised in the letter was the fact the consultation for the application ended yesterday – giving limited time ahead of the meeting for all the considerable representations to be considered.

When the original plan was deferred, using Councillor Statham’s casting vote, neighbours in the public gallery reacted strongly to the decision.

Some councillors claimed they were racially abused but this has since been firmly denied by the neighbours.