A Solihull councillor has defended the decision to reject long standing plans to develop Shirley town centre after being accused of “a lack of understanding” of the details.
Elmdon councillor Glenis Slater was among four Liberal Democrat members who, along with one Labour councillor, voted against Shirley Advance’s revised Parkgate scheme on parking grounds last week, overruling four Conservative members who voted for approval.
Three of the Lib Dems had stood in for regular committee members.
The £80 million scheme would see an Asda store, shops and accommodation built on the Stratford Road by Shirley Park.
Shirley Advance has confirmed it will appeal against the decision, which will have to be defended at a cost to council tax payers.
Company spokesman Robert Birch suggested the Liberal Democrats “chose to ignore the hard facts of the case”, adding: “In our view, they also demonstrated a lack of understanding of the officer’s report, the application itself and the extensive supporting information.”
He said: “Only 1.35 acres of the total area of Shirley Park will be lost, which amounts to about four per cent. Our inclusion of the basement car park, at huge financial cost to the scheme, means that we have been able to minimise the loss of Shirley Park absolutely.
“The previous planning consent, which was granted in 2006 and the subsequent confirmation of the CPO in 2008, following a full Public Inquiry, are serious material considerations.
“We are considering alternative routes forward with our lawyers and professional team.”
Coun Slater, who has served on the committee for 18 months, said: “I think it’s absolutely ridiculous. I spent days and days looking over the application and I didn’t make a decision until I came to the meeting, which is what we are supposed to do.
“It’s almost like they are suggesting we should all have made up our minds before we got there.
“I definitely think Shirley wants something done with it. I would like them to submit a better application.”
Council leader Ian Hedley suggested a modified application could be submitted to deal with the parking issue, after which the committee would be legally obliged to approve it.
He said: “I don’t see there is any need to go to an appeal. I think it’s something that can be dealt with.”
Lib Dem Councillor Ken Rushen stood in for Coun Honor Cox, who died earlier this year. Coun Jean Hamilton stood in for Coun Theresa Tedd and Coun Martin Hewings stood in for the committee’s usual chairman, Coun John Windmill, who had declared an interest.