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Birmingham’s green belt housing push on course for approval

Birmingham’s green belt housing push on course for approval

🕔23.Jul 2015

A move to solve Birmingham’s housing shortage by building homes across the city border and in the green belt looks likely to secure Government approval.

An independent planning Inspector has backed the tactics following an examination in public of the city council’s development plan up to 2031.

The minimum number of new properties required over the next 16 years to meet demand has been increased by the Inspector from 84,000 to 89,000 to reflect the latest population projections.

The council’s claim that sufficient space in Birmingham can only be identified to build 51,000 new homes has been accepted by the Inspector, leaving a shortfall of 37,900 homes which will have to be built on the other side of the city boundary in Worcestershire, Staffordshire and Warwickshire.

An amended version of the Birmingham Development Plan (BDP) following the public inquiry strengthens the council’s hand in seeking to build up to 5,000 homes in Sutton Coldfield green belt and 1,000 homes on green belt land in Bromsgrove.

Council planners are delighted at the Inspector’s findings, according to a cabinet report:

At this stage the Inspector has not produced a report explaining his conclusions, but the scope of the proposed modifications makes it clear that he is supporting the council’s overall strategy and the levels of growth proposed within the submitted Plan. This is very much to be welcomed.

The Inspector stressed the legal requirement of district councils in Worcestershire, Staffordshire and Warwickshire to co-operate with Birmingham and help to identify development land for new housing.

The draft BDP sets out the route the council intends to take:

Birmingham’s objectively assessed housing need for the period 2011 to 2031 is 89,000 additional homes. It is not possible to deliver all of this additional housing within the city boundary. The city council will continue to work actively with neighbouring councils through the Duty to Co-operate to ensure that appropriate provision is made elsewhere within the Greater Birmingham Housing Market Area to meet the shortfall of 37,900 homes.

The city council will seek to work collaboratively with neighbouring authorities to secure the development of further homes to contribute toward meeting Birmingham’s housing requirement over the period to 2031.

This will focus on the Greater Birmingham Housing Market Area (HMA), which comprises, in addition to Birmingham itself, The Black Country, Bromsgrove, Redditch, Solihull, North Warwickshire, Tamworth, Lichfield, Cannock Chase, South Staffordshire and parts of Stratford-on-Avon.

Last year the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership and the Black Country councils jointly commissioned a study to assess future housing requirements within the two areas and to identify sites for additional housing to meet any shortfall, including any unmet needs within Birmingham.

The final phase of the study, together with additional work in relation to employment and sustainability, will provide a basis for a strategy to be agreed to accommodate additional housing provision to meet the shortfall arising in Birmingham and any other shortfalls within the study area.

In the case of the Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP, this will be reflected in the LEP Spatial Plan for Growth. The outcome of this will then be taken forward through revisions to individual Local Plans, where this is necessary, to ensure that additional land is allocated for new housing.

Key conclusions by the Inspector following the examination in public include:

  • An increase in the overall housing requirement, up to 89,000 from 84,000, but no change to the target of 51,100 to be delivered in Birmingham.
  • The council’s approach to working with neighbouring councils to provide for the shortfall is supported.
  • No significant changes to the overall requirements for employment, retail or office development
  • No changes to the principle of the proposals to remove land from the green belt for residential development at Langley and the former Yardley Sewage Works and for employment development at Peddimore, although there are detailed changes to the policy wording. In the case of Peddimore, this includes a reduction in the developable area of the site from 80 hectares to 71 hectares to reduce its visual impact.
  • All the proposed growth areas within the urban area are supported, although with detailed changes to policy wording in a number of cases.
  • The gypsy and traveller policy is revised to include two site allocations for gypsy and traveller use, at Hubert St/Aston Brook St East (an extension to an existing site) and at Rupert St/Proctor St.
  • A new minerals policy is included, to ensure that in the case of major developments any workable mineral reserves are extracted before development takes place.

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