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Birmingham growth plan with 6,000 houses in Sutton green belt is approved

Birmingham growth plan with 6,000 houses in Sutton green belt is approved

🕔21.Apr 2016

An entire new community with up to 6,000 houses, shops and schools could be built in the Sutton Coldfield green belt after the Planning Inspectorate approved the controversial proposal.

Countryside campaigners were horrified, but can hardly have been surprised, to learn that the Birmingham Development Plan setting out housing and employment growth over the next 15 years has been approved, although the council did not get everything it wanted.

Proposals to build homes at the North Worcestershire golf course were rejected, while the amount of green belt land reserved for industrial development at Peddimore, near Minworth, was reduced by ten per cent from 195 to 175 acres.

The Planning Inspectorate ruled there were exceptional circumstances to warrant development at Langley and Peddimore, but also said there could be no further green belt development in Birmingham for 10 years

The council succeeded in getting approval for a 29.5 acre life sciences economic zone in Selly Oak and Edgbaston which is expected to provide up to 2,400 jobs.

The decision means that the council can press ahead with building up to 6,000 houses in Langley, Sutton Coldfield, after defeating a ‘save our countryside’ campaign led by Conservative councillors and the town’s Tory MP Andrew Mitchell.

The Birmingham Development Plan allows for 89,000 new homes for Birmingham up to 2031, although there is space on brownfield land within the city boundary for only 51,000 of these, leaving sites in Worcestershire, Staffordshire and Warwickshire to be identified for the remaining dwellings.

It also allows for nearly 750 acres of land to create jobs, 85 acres of retail floor space and 185 acres of offices.

Langley, with 6,000 homes, will be one of the larger green belt developments in the country.

Approval follows a recent decision by Communities Secretary Greg Clark to allow 1,500 houses to be built on green belt land near Gloucester.

Mr Clark alarmed countryside campaigners by deciding that planning permission for building on green belt land can be given where there is a proven significant local need for housing, rather than the current ruling which says there must be “exceptional circumstances” to warrant development.

The next two or three years will prove critical if the Government is to deliver on promises to address the country’s housing shortage.

The new West Midlands Combined Authority, due to come into existence in June, will be expected to co-ordinate a region-wide response with some experts suggesting the WMCA area could accommodate up to 200,000 new homes. The issue is likely to be at the top of the ‘to do’ agenda for the metro mayor, who will be elected next year.

Birmingham city council is stressing that only a tiny proportion of the 89,000 homes required by 2031 will be built in the green belt. Most will be located on previously developed brownfield land.

Waheed Nazir, the council’s strategic director for economy, said:

This is a major success and means we can get on with the job of providing much-needed housing and employment opportunities in the city.

It is critical in supporting the city’s growth agenda and our ambition for it to be an enterprising, innovative and green city, delivering sustainable growth to meet the needs of its population and strengthening its global competitiveness.

Crucially, the inspector has endorsed both our approach to the release of land on the green belt and the dealing with the housing shortfall.

The council issued the following ‘key points’ about the Langley development:

  • A unique opportunity in Sutton Coldfield for the development of around 6,000 homes
  • Supported by exemplar infrastructure and facilities
  • Destination of choice for families. Mix of house sizes, types and tenures
  • The development will achieve the highest standards of design and sustainability, and be integrated into the existing community
  • Integrated and sustainable public infrastructure links including bus rapid transit/’ SPRINT’ which will serve the site and connect Langley to Sutton town centre and the city centre
  • A strategic green corridor connecting New Hall Valley Country Park through Langley to the Green Belt
  • New junction with the A38 and new connections into the area
  • A Supplementary Planning Document for Langley setting out the detail will be published for consultation in summer.

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