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Bus operator threatens not to serve 200-home planned ‘mega cul-de-sac’ estate in Leamington

A major bus operator has threatened not to serve a planned 200-home ‘mega cul-de-sac’ estate in south Leamington.

Developer AC Lloyd is seeking approval for the final details of the controversial development off Chesterton Gardens estate in Sydenham, Whitnash.

But Stagecoach – which operates many of the district’s buses – has now lodged an objection to the plans along with nearly 70 others.

Warwick and Leamington MP Matt Western claims residents could be left stranded and isolated without regular and reliable bus services – and would be forced into their cars.

The initial proposals were approved by the independent Planning Inspectorate last August when it upheld the developer’s appeal against Warwick District Council’s (WDC) rejection of the plans.

A supporting application has now been lodged which, if given the green light, would pave the way for up to 500 homes to be built on the site.

The developer’s latest application submitted last month seeks final approval for ‘road infrastructure, public open space and landscaping.’

But in an official objection, Commercial Director for Stagecoach Midlands Patrick Stringer said: “Accordingly, we re-emphasise that we could not look to extend our service 67 into the application site as currently proposed.

“There is no real provision within the proposed or immediately adjoining development to effectively support a commercially sustainable bus service.”

He added that the plans are out of keeping with WDC’s Local Plan for housing up to 2029, and do not meet expectations of ‘proper and timely delivery of infrastructure to support development, and the support of measures to properly facilitate sustainable modes (of transport).’

Mr Stringer then outlines the firm’s demands including reconsideration of the number of bus stops, services, and the directions from which they travel into the estate.

Most objections to the scheme are from residents, but they also include Warwickshire County Council’s Highways Authority, its Ecological Service and Leamington Spa Town Council.

Mr Western – who has spearheaded the campaign against the development since 2015 – says the objections are a major blow to WDC and AC Lloyd.

“These fresh objections are yet more evidence the proposed development is unsuitable and unsustainable,” he said.

“With no bus services, residents on the estate will have to walk 30 minutes or more to buy shopping from Morrisons and even further to get into Leamington.

“Residents and my Labour colleagues are rightly calling for firm plans to build a second access which would ease the strain on Sydenham’s limited road capacity.

“But now bus services are under threat, it will push even more cars on to the narrow roads and make the estate seem even more inescapable.

“We’ve seen elsewhere in the district the problems of ‘island’ or cul-de-sac communities stranded with inadequate infrastructure.

“If regular and dependable bus services cannot be guaranteed, this damaging development must not go ahead.”

The original plans were twice rejected by councillors on WDC planning committee early last year.

This was primarily due to the lack of a second access road and widespread opposition from residents.

Mr Western also says the development is not needed because of calculations that show, at the current trajectory of applications granted and sites earmarked for development, almost 4,000 surplus homes could be built in Warwick district by 2029.

He also says the Office for National Statistics housing need calculations for the district are likely too high, as conceded by the Office for Statistics Regulation.