SOLIHULL Council has welcomed the dismissal of appeals by two developers against the refusal of planning applications for service stations on the M42.
Having pledged to protect the green belt in the borough, the authority has consistently opposed the proposed developments over the past decade through two public inquiries.
Councillor Stuart Davis, chairman of the planning sub-committee, said: “Obviously we are pleased that the inspector has supported our views that these were totally unsuitable locations.”
But it was clear that victory had come at a price. “It is a great pity that around £1 million of taxpayers’ money has had to be spent defending our green belt.
“But we were determined to fight this on behalf of the people of the borough, and I’m sure our residents are greatly relieved at the news.”
Russell Hogg, chairman of Catherine-de-Barnes Residents’ Association, echoed the remarks by saying everyone in the village was delighted that the threat of having a huge service station on their doorstep had been lifted.
“But the cost to the taxpayer of £1 million is almost obscene,” he added. “If the developers knew that they would have to pay the costs if they lost their case they might have thought twice about putting forward such unpopular schemes.
“There must be something wrong with the system if it takes as long as eight years to determine a planning matter of this kind.”
Local MP Caroline Spelman (Con, Meriden), who gave evidence against the planning applications at the first inquiry back in 1999, said local communities had had to “live with major uncertainty for an unacceptably long amount of time”.
She added: “It is a real tribute to local campaigners that they have seen off these unwelcome proposals to consume green belt within the Meriden Gap.”
Solihull’s Lib Dem MP Lorely Burt said the announcement on the service stations was a “red letter day” for residents and a victory for the environment.