THE city council has been challenged to “shed some light” on what qualifies as a breach of pre-commencement conditions with work having allegedly started at the new Gtech headquarters without full planning consent.

During a meeting on Monday, Warndon Parish Council heard chairman Andrew Cross had flagged up the apparent issue with planning case officer John Longmuir but is yet to hear a reply.

Councillors Cross and Andy Taylor claimed they have evidence of work – which they think breached conditions – having commenced on green land in Berkeley Way in the days leading up to a decision meeting last month.

However, owner Nick Grey told the Worcester News yesterday workers have simply been “improving the ecology and carrying out the pre-commencement conditions” – adding planning officers have confirmed Gtech “had not broken any regulations”.

He said the current plan is for the new site to be occupied in 2022.

The Worcester-based technology firm intends to relocate its HQ to the new site in Warndon Villages, having been given planning permission three years ago.

Plans for that site had, however, stalled when the city’s planning committee initially rejected the application and instead the firm built a new 30,000 sq ft base on Shire Business Park in Warndon.

But with permission eventually given for Berkeley Way, Gtech requested variations for seven pre-planning conditions – which were approved on November 21.

Prior to that approval meeting, Mr Grey had confirmed his intention to convert the Villages site into the new headquarters while transforming the Brindley Road space into a warehouse.

The planning committee agreed to allow variations to eight conditions relating to installation of services, landscaping, access, CEMP, earthworks, archaeology, renewable energy, drainage and access.

However, Councillors Cross and Taylor claim just days before the variation was agreed, workmen were on site preparing to do clearance work, seemingly in breach of the ecological conditions.

All the requested conditions were relaxed on November 21 anyway but now a final pre-commencement meeting is due on December 19 in relation to a further application to allow for utilities to be installed in preparation for construction of the new car park.

Cllr Taylor said: “There are serious issues or a seeming disparity between legality and what planning regulations allow and custom practice.

“This isn’t just a city issue, this is planning widespread, but where we know of a case where such things are regularly happening and we have evidence, then it seems we as a parish council need to be making our opposition known.

“In a nutshell, we are still considering our options, but I would imagine that one of them would be challenging this at planning committee [on December 19].”

The parish council previously objected to the plans on the grounds that the proposed gas supply installation “does not comply” with Section 56 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.

Mr Grey said: “We have been working on the site all year improving the ecology and carrying out the pre-commencement conditions.

“A planning officer attended the site, I believe at the request of Warndon Parish Council members.

“Two members of Warndon Parish Council were present at the recent planning meeting on November 21, when the planning officer confirmed that Gtech had not broken any regulations.

“Works are continuing on site with a view to Gtech taking occupation in 2022.”

A city council spokesman said: “The council received notification from the parish council in November that they believed works had been commenced on site in breach of planning conditions.

“Subsequent investigation concluded that there had been no breach at that point.

“We confirm that an application to vary condition 7, which refers to the construction of the car park, has been submitted to the council.

“It is anticipated that this will be referred to the planning committee on December 19.”