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All Clear On Rubbish Tip Protest

The Local Government Ombudsman has rejected complaints that a council mishandled the renovation of a former rubbish tip in Stratford-upon-Avon. A resident whose home is near the site at Paddock Lane, asked the Ombudsman to investigate the way Stratford District Council had cleared the site without proper planning consent, and had also failed to take enforcement action against alleged breaches to planning conditions.

After a detailed investigation, the Ombudsman firmly rejected the complaint and found no administrative fault with the Council. As a result the complaint will not be pursued and the findings were accepted by councillors at a meeting of the Council's Scrutiny Committee yesterday afternoon, Wednesday 12 May.

"This project received a great deal of attention last summer, most of which was critical of the way Stratford District Council was clearing the site," says Ian Prosser, the District Council's chief executive.

"However, I am delighted that the Local Government Ombudsman's report has rejected this complaint. The Council has a duty to perform within the law and in the interest of its residents, and this report clearly demonstrates that the correct procedures were followed at all times.

"Our objective for this area of land was to renovate it in the safest possible manner to provide a site that would be suitable for a new housing development, which we have achieved."

The specific complaints were that the District Council had failed to obtain planning permission for the full removal of the contents of the former domestic refuse tip, that the Council allowed unauthorised variations to the conditional planning permission, and that it failed to take action when breaches of the conditional planning permission occurred.

"As well as clearing the Council of any administrative fault on the planning process in its report," adds Ian Prosser, "the Ombudsman pointed out that the enforcement process is intended to remedy breaches of control, rather than 'punish' developers for wrong doings.

"Furthermore, the Ombudsman concludes that any formal investigation would be unlikely to achieve any more than the action that the Council has already taken in dealing with this project."

Stratford District Council who presently own the land, spent 3.4m on removing 150,000 tonnes of contaminated domestic waste from the site last summer. Northampton-based Wilcon Homes (Midlands) Ltd agreed to pay the Council 5.28m for the reclaimed site, and have planning consent to build around 150 homes on the 11 acre site.

Mark Lepkowski, press officer on 01789 260104
Malcolm Simmons, director of technical & amenities on 01789 260600

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