Express & Star

Controversial plan to bulldoze houses and replace them with six more is deferred again

A disputed plan to bulldoze two houses in Aldridge and build six new properties on the land was pulled at the 11th hour.

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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

Members of Walsall Council’s planning committee were due to decide on a proposal by Levison Homes for a development on Little Aston Road at a meeting on Thursday.

But it was announced a request had been lodged to defer the application for the second time in a row to enable parties to consider and respond to concerns raised by the local highways authority.

Officers had recommended the plan – a revised version of an original proposal deferred at a stormy planning committee meeting in October – be refused.

They said building two houses and four bungalows in place of the existing properties 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.

But this plan, as well as the original which proposed four houses and two bungalows, was strongly opposed by neighbours in and around Little Aston Road.

Michael Manraj Singh of Lapworth Architects had been due to represent concerns around inappropriate back-land development, highway safety issues, fear of crime and drag-out distances for bins.

A legal letter from planning barrister Christian Hawley had also been submitted to the authority which raised issues around connections some committee members had with Mark and Beverley Brindley, who own one of the houses.

At Thursday’s meeting, the committee voted to defer the application but member Councillor Suky Samra said: “This came before us in October so the applicant has had some considerable time to address any concerns.

“We all know this application is well out there in the public domain and there are a lot of interested parties.

“This very last-minute deferral is a concern and why these matters haven’t been addressed. It should have been addressed earlier on and not last-minute.”

At last October’s meeting, the decision to defer the proposal when officers had recommended refusal sparked a strong reaction from residents watching in the public gallery.

Some councillors claimed they had been accused of being corrupt and had racial abuse shouted at them – claims which were strongly refuted by the residents afterwards.

At the start of Thursday’s meeting, chair Councillor Mark Statham said: “I’d like to remind members of the public attending in the gallery that any disruption during any of the items will not be tolerated.

“Should any member of the public create a disturbance, they will be asked to leave the gallery.

“If disruption persists, then I shall order the public gallery will be cleared. I hope this will not be required and all matters can be dealt with in a civilised manner.”