Plans for dozens of new homes on vacant land in Lichfield have been given the go-ahead, despite being rejected by councillors.

Revelan Group’s proposals for 77 homes on land off Eastern Avenue were unanimously rejected by Lichfield District Council’s planning committee in February.

However, work can now begin after the Planning Inspectorate overturned the decision and also deemed a £300,000 contribution to provide more school places in the area was unnecessary.

Development work is now expected to start on site in 2015.

 

Simon Hawley, from Harris Lamb, which acted on behalf of Revelan, said: “This former industrial site has been vacant since 2008 and despite extensive marketing, a tenant had not been identified. Our client aimed to redevelop the brown field site to fulfil the demand for housing in Lichfield.

“Earlier this year, the plans were put before Lichfield District Council, and were rejected by the planning committee, who claimed that the plans would lead to an unacceptable loss of employment land. As a result, we appealed to the Planning Inspectorate to review the decision.”

The land was left vacant by Hepworth Building Products and has been unused since 2007.

Revelan Group bought the 6.5-acre site in 2008 and submitted plans for a residential scheme, with a mix of detached, semi-detached and terraced housing including the provision of affordable homes, earlier this year.

However, given the industrial past of the land the authority’s planning committee turned it down due to the loss of “employment land” which would result from the scheme.

At the time, Lichfield District Council received letters expressing concern over the plan, including suggestions the site would suffer noise pollution and vibration effects from the West Coast Main Line.

However, the Inspectorate has now over-ruled the council’s objections, stating that according to the authority’s Employment Land Review (ELR), the district has an excessive quantity of employment sites that are suitable for development.

It also deemed Revelan’s intention to make a £300,000 educational contribution to provide more school places in the area was unnecessary.

John Wilde, of the Planning Inspectorate, said the council’s own Employment Land Review (ELR) concluded that there is a potential oversupply of around 150 hectares of employment land.

His appeal decision states: “I can only conclude that allowing residential development to take place on the appeal site would not, in quantitative terms, result in an unacceptable loss of employment land.”

It continues: “At the hearing the council pointed out that not all of the sites identified within the ELR would necessarily be eventually deemed suitable for employment use and that therefore it did not take the potential sites into account when evaluating the appeal planning application.

“However, the appeal site is only 2.6 hectares and it seems extremely unlikely that the ELR would identify potential sites for the vast majority of them to be then considered unsuitable at a later stage.”

When the application was submitted, it was expected that the development would generate 24 primary school pupils, 17 high school aged children and three sixth form aged pupils.

The authority sought £282,574 for the high school places and £54,081 for the sixth form places.

However, Mr Wilde said the need for the educational contribution had not been proven.

He said: “I would have to be persuaded that the relevant schools were at capacity and were therefore unable to accept pupils from the proposed development without further places being made available.

“From the information that has been provided I do not consider that that situation has been demonstrated.

“It has not therefore been demonstrated that the contribution is necessary to make the development acceptable.”