Sutton Coldfield Green Belt Development To Go Ahead
Up to 6,000 new homes on Sutton Coldfield green belt has been given the go ahead.
The massive new development at Langley in Sutton Coldfield is part of the Birmingham Development Plan (BDP) which can be formally adopted and approved by Birmingham City Council, the Government has confirmed.
The BDP sets out a 15-year strategy to deliver thousands of new homes and jobs across the city and met with opposition from Sutton Coldfield residents.
Housing Minister Gavin Barwell lifted a Holding Direction which prevented the BDP from progressing pending further investigation into proposals to earmark land in the Sutton Coldfield green belt for housing and employment purposes.
Mr Barwell said he agreed the scale of unmet housing demand in Birmingham was “exceptional and possibly unique”. The Housing Minister said he saw no reason to disagree with the conclusions an Inspector appointed to consider the plan reached that the BDP was consistent with National Planning Policy and should be adopted.
The BDP sets out proposals to address the city’s housing crisis by building 51,000 homes in Birmingham, including up to 6,000 at Langley in Sutton Coldfield.
Birmingham City Council has promised that the new homes will be supported by exemplar infrastructure and facilities and the development will achieve the highest standards of design and sustainability, and be integrated into the existing community.
The green belt land was identified following a thorough city-wide search to identify possible locations for new homes on previously developed land, known as brownfield sites.
All brownfield land in Birmingham with potential for housing development was considered through the city council’s Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment to see whether sites were suitable for housing, how much they could accommodate, and when development was likely to take place.
Research by the council concluded that 89,000 new homes are required over the next 15 years to address an acute housing shortage and meet the needs of Birmingham’s growing population.
Councillor John Clancy, the Leader of Birmingham City Council, said:
“This is excellent news because it means we can now get on with the vital task of building homes and delivering the jobs that our fast-growing population so desperately needs.
“This is an ambitious plan for growth which will deliver 51,100 new homes and significant new employment opportunities. It is an important step forward that, having reviewed the robustness of Plan, the Government has supported the conclusions of the Planning Inspector and recognised the need to release Green Belt to help meet our housing and employment land needs.”
Waheed Nazir, Strategic Director of Economy at Birmingham City Council, said:
“Removing the Holding Direction is an important decision both for the city and the wider UK in terms of our ability to deliver housing growth. We therefore welcome the Secretary of State’s endorsement of the Plan and recognition we have taken a robust approach that is consistent with national policy”.
In response Suzanne Webb of Project Fields said:
“The decision is extremely bad news not just for our Royal Town but for those in the rest of England who are facing such ill thought out plans. The government and our City Council have just seen ‘house crisis’ they haven’t understood the physical impact of the developments on already constrained infrastructure.
“The City Council have not got the funding for the infrastructure and using development funding on the site won’t yield a return for years. This is desk based planning at its worst.
“The City Council have not seen the bigger picture and they are just cramming houses in what space they can find. They can only fit 45,000 on brownfield sites, because of this 6,000 has to go on green belt. They have a shortfall of 38,000 to meet the 89,000 demand by 2031. This can only be met outside the boundaries. So I think the maths on that is simple, come 2031 we will be at capacity and no more houses can be built in Birmingham. So what will they do then?
“If the City Council were visionary and had our interests at heart they would realise they should be planning now within the new combined West Midlands authority to build a new town, a garden city and not removing all open space and just cramming homes in because ‘houses need to be built’. They should be doing an audit of all available brownfield land in the region, looking at regeneration and putting the jobs and homes in areas where they need them. Not seven miles outside the city.
“The key word that is missing in this perceived housing crisis is planning. I don’t see any.
“No one disagrees with the fact that we need houses and that we need them built faster, but the decision to build here is denying people the houses in the right place with the right infrastructure.
“Difficult decisions will always be made about the green belt and it can be an emotional issue – but our argument is this, Birmingham City Council did not present a plan, but knee jerk reaction to a housing crisis. Leader of the City Council, John Clancy has demonstrated this as he talks of the young growing city, that it needs to work for those people, yet he proposes to build a small town on the side of Sutton Coldfield where the houses will have an average price of £350,000, is this really working for those people?
“The decision to build is based on the simple fact a cash-strapped City Council own much of the land in Walmley.
“This plan will fail to address the ‘housing crisis’.
“What we have is a lack of coherent planning and a clear misuse and disregard for the Green Belt.
“What we also have is a planning system that does not work for everyone .It works for the privileged few the developers and landowners. In this instance the City Council as they own a significant area of the land.”
The BDP is expected to be formally adopted by Birmingham City Council early next year.