Audlem Parish Council may consider putting in a bid to buy land at Little Heath as a way of heading off a controversial housing scheme
Councillors were told that new laws enshrined in the Localism Act 2011 could pave the way for the parish to stop Gladman Developments' controversial proposals to build 120 new homes on green fields at Little Heath on the outskirts of the village.
No formal planning application has yet been lodged for the site but a village petition is being raised against "speculative development" in Audlem and the parish council has pledged to fight the proposals.
But Councillor David Higham told an Audlem Parish Council meeting that there may be a way for the parish to buy up the land itself and crush any speculative development on the site.
He suggested that, under the Localism Act, the parish might be able to ask that the land be nominated as "of interest to the local community". This might give the village the option to buy the land at Little Heath at agricultural land prices.
"I have not been able to check on this myself but I have been informed this could be a possibility. I think it is something we should look into further," he added.
Councillors agreed to consider the implications of the recent Localism Act and pursue the possibility of making a potential bid for the land.
The meeting was told that Wulvern Housing is looking for more sites for social housing in the area over the next few years and that Little Heath might provide a suitable site.
Community rights enshrined in the Localism Act are intended to allow communities to have a bigger say in taking over services and in bidding to buy land and buildings of community value.
If land considered to be of community value comes up for sale, community interest groups can make a written request to be treated as potential bidders and the local authority must inform the landowner of the details of interest.
Other provisions of the Act say developers must also ensure that their consultation process is robust to avoid legal challenges and that local authorities have an important role to play in making sure that consultation is both adequate and effective.
Communities also have the opportunity to raise early objections to housing schemes, with a view to shaping a developer's proposals.
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