Burntwood Neighbourhood Plan under pressure from developers wanting to build on our Green Belt

On Monday the Burntwood Neighbourhood Plan committee meets to consider the consultation responses to the Draft Plan.


Lichfield District falls within the Greater Birmingham Housing Market Area (GBHMA).  There is an outstanding minimum shortfall of 28,150 dwellings to 2031 and 60,885 dwellings to 2036 across the Birmingham HMA according their report produced by GL Hearn.

Not surprising then that potential developers refer to this in their responses.

Image result for salesman free clipartAlso, most of these development/consultant companies are “trying it on” with Lichfield District Council in their responses.  They would like the Neighbourhood Plan delayed for the next phase of the Local Plan.  They also want to alter the Green Belt boundaries which is not remit of a Neighbourhood Plan but through the Lichfield Land Allocations Plan!

Barton Willmore on behalf of the Church Commissioners

Would like to build 375 houses on their land West of Stables Way – in the Green Belt.

Their Ethical Investment Policy states: “The National Investing Bodies expect companies in which they invest to manifest sustainable environmental practice, fair treatment of customers and suppliers, responsible employment practices, conscientiousness with regard to human rights, sensitivity towards the communities in which they operate and best corporate governance practice.”

Planning is political of course so there is no reason why residents cannot lobby their Church of England representatives including the Parochial Church Councils.


Support rejuvenated Town Centre – but believes increased footfall needed by building more homes – oh yes and houses are expensive to build on brown field sites so what other solutions are there I wonder?

Wallace Land Investments

Such development can facilitate positive infrastructure improvements to the Town that for the benefit of new and existing residents alike.  Release of Green Belt land is essential to provide for a deliverable range and scale of new development appropriate to Burntwood. and  It is evident from the emerging Local Plan Review that Green Belt Land release will be needed in order to meet the needs of Lichfield DC and the unmet needs of the wider GBHMA.

Pegasus on behalf of Bloor Homes

This may require development beyond the existing urban area, where a range of CoulterLanesigntechnical evidence will be considered, including landscape quality and importance of land against the Green Belt purposes.

The benefits associated with the development of land at Coulter Lane represent an opportunity, as referred to within the Vision, to assist in the delivery of the identified objectives of the Neighbourhood Development Plan.

GVA on behalf of Metacre Ltd.

Our Client has recently agreed terms with the Bradshaw family for the promotion of its land at Bleak House Farm for housing.

Our Client’s objective is to secure the release of the site from the Green Belt, and its allocation for development, through the Local Plan review.

After this meeting the Neighbourhood Plan goes to Lichfield District Council then to the Indepedent Examiner and then to you, the public, in a referendum.


Staffordshire County Council and their (apparent) Pothole Preservation Policy.

We started to log the potholes that need repairing in Burntwood but soon realised that it was pretty well every Road, Drive and Close in the town so Staffordshire County Council please see the map below and assume work is needed here.


Here we try to anticipate some of your questions…

Q But the announcement of an extra £5 million worth of new machinery will help won’t it?

A Hard to say but in answer to a question from a Labour Opposition member in 2017 two other machines costing £12.000 – £18,000 a week to run had managed just 10 potholes in two County Divisions in Burntwood between April and October 2016!  The highest number repaired in the same period was in Lichfield Rural West Division with 136.

Q  But isn’t Burntwood getting its fair share of work now?

A Well let’s look at last week’s reports of potholes in the County.   Of the 230 reports only 4 different ones were in Burntwood.   The small crater in Princess Street, Chase Terrace was reported 5 times that week alone in addition to all the other weeks it had been reported by residents who couldn’t believe it hadn’t been fixed.

Q Before I report a repair can I see if it has already been reported?

A Not with Staffordshire you can’t.Fixmystreet

They have their own unfriendly system where you have to go through various stages on their own website and only after you have reported it and got a reference number can you find out about progress.

Q Is there a better way?

A Yes there is but not in Staffordshire.

FixmystreetWarksIf you are next door in Warwickshire, and many other Council areas, you click on the map on your phone and you can see what has been reported  and see updates at any time.  If the problem is in fact a district council matter then it gets reported to them.


Q But doesn’t this mean that the less friendly the system the less likely it will be used to report problems on the roads?

A You may say that but we couldn’t possibly comment.

Q How good is Staffordshire County Council at responding to reports?

A If you are a cyclist – then perhaps “rubbish” would be the best answer.  The website fillthathole.org.uk have them ranked 126th out of 214 highway authorities.

Q It can’t get any worse can it?


SCC Highway capital 2018
From the Medium Term Financial Strategy agreed by the Conservatives last month



Close run thing for Lichfield’s Neighbourhood Plan. What can we expect for Burntwood?

Lichfield City residents were clearly divided last week over their Neighbourhood Plan (NP) with one of the closest results ever seen  for a Neighbourhood Plan.  Most referendums result in a 90% vote in favour, unsurprisingly as the NP is the result of numerous consultation events, with 84% minimum support – until now.

Only 57% voted in favour in Lichfield with 43% against with the lowest turnout for a NP in the district.

Lichfield NPHow will Burntwood’s Neighbourhood Plan be received – if it ever gets to the stage where it can be presented to residents in a referendum?

Other Plans in Lichfield District followed the normal experience in other parts of the country.

 Other results in Lichfield District

Whittington and Fisherwick 90% in favour, Stonnall 92% in favour, Shenstone  89% in favour and Little Aston 89% in favour.

Green Belt under threat from the Strategic Green Belt Review?

14 local authorities, including Lichfield District, that comprise the Greater BirminghamBirmingham and Black Country Housing Market Area (GBBCHMA) commissioned consultancy team GL Hearn and Wood plc to undertake a study for the Housing Needs for Birmingham  This is because there is a shortfall  of planned housing need of 37,900 dwellings for 2011 – 31 in the Birmingham Development Plan.

The report is now available to view on Lichfield District Council’s website here.  Set aside a weekend to study it!

The report makes clear that: “It does not in any way commit the participating authorities to development of any of the geographic areas referred to (nor does it exclude the testing of alternatives), but it is a thorough evidence base to take matters forward through the local plan review process.”

Section 8 of the Study is called Strategic Green Belt Review which looks at the Green Belt in all the local authority areas including Lichfield District.  Whilst there is a long process ahead it is unclear what is being implied in their comments on the current Green Belt boundaries for example:

Between Lichfield, Burntwood, Brownhills and Sutton Coldfield – The gap between Lichfield and the towns of Burntwood and Brownhill[s] to the west is around 1.85 miles and 3 miles respectively. The presence of small settlements (i.e. Woodhouses and Hammerwich) and other types of built development (ribbon development, clusters of residential properties, the A5 and M6 Toll) to the west narrow the sense of separation.   or …

Here the presence of settlements and other development has resulted in fragmented areas of Green Belt. Whilst roads play a key role in physically defining the edges of these settlements (including the M6 toll south of Norton Canes). The degree of containment is varied and in places there an absence of a physically well-defined boundary to prevent sprawl into open countryside.

The first comment may mean that the separation (an important aspect of Green Belt) is not clear and the second that well defined boundaries are needed – but not there at the moment.

It is unclear and it is important to remember that this is only a study but there is a need to find the 37.900 dwellings by 2031 and the Green Belt boundaries are yet again under review in the wider context than just Lichfield District.


Burntwood residents only have a week left to save our Green Belt.

Lichfield District Council’s consultation on housing allocations and the Green Belt boundary around St Matthews “Estate” ends on Monday, 9th February.

There is more to the consultation than the Green Belt but here is the paragraph – withoutCoulter Lane view a suggested new boundary map.

9.7 Policy Burntwood

1: Burntwood Environment provides a commitment to remove the St Matthews Estate from the Green Belt with the exact boundaries to be determined through this Local Plan Allocations document. The NPPF requires Local Planning Authorities to take account of the need to promote sustainable patterns of development and to define boundaries clearly, using physical features that are readily recognisable and likely to be permanent.

And here is a link to the consultation.

Burntwood’s Green Belt under threat

Burntwood residents have until the 19th of February to object to losing some of our Green Belt.

Lichfield District Council’s Local Plan Consultation still removes the Green Belt boundary

Coulter Lane view
Coulter Lane, Burntwood

from the St Matthews Estate area of Burntwood.  The District Council has removed the Housing Allocation Site either side of Coulter Lane but of course that is only part of the defence against Bloors’ proposal to build 80 homes there.

The biggest protection of all is the Green Belt and if the boundary is removed from this area then objectors will have one hand tied behind their back in the fight against development here.

Just to be clear it will be us against the Secretary of State with our MP hiding in his bunker again!



No discussion on threat to Burntwood’s Green Belt at last week’s Cabinet

The proposal to take the St Matthew’s area out of the Green Belt – leaving the land off Coulter Lane vulnerable to developers did not get a mention at last Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting.

What was mentioned was the fact that officers have presented a report for the Local Plan influenced by the political leadership suggesting this is not the report they would have written as professionals.  However Cabinet members will not be at the Examination in Public which will cost the Council about £90,000 in total involving legal representations and consultants.

It is not even clear whether the 750 dwellings at Curborough that the Secretary of State forced through (see below) will be counted in the 10,000 plus dwellings LDC has to find.  That is also without the challenge to a site for 1000 dwellings opposed by Tamworth Borough Council!

BirminghamIf that wasn’t enough the Cabinet member responsible referred to the issue “hanging over us” i.e. the need to work with Birmingham to meet their housing needs on Lichfield District’s boundary where it cannot be accommodated on Birmingham’s brownfield land.  Surely the new mayor of the West Midlands will listen to his close friend Michael Fabricant MP and so that threat will be lifted soon.





Green Belt protection to go in Burntwood

District Council’s Cabinet report accepts their failed High Court challenge to the Government means less pressure on Green Belt – but Burntwood will lose protection at Coulter Lane.

The report to Lichfield District Council’s Cabinet on Tuesday states: “St Matthews estate is still proposed for release from the Green Belt. This was identified within the Local Plan Strategy and the review of the land identifies that it does not fulfil the purposes of Green Belt. However its release does not result in any allocation of land for housing.”

Coulter Lane planTell that to Bloor Homes who want to build 80 dwellings near Coulter Lane!  In their response last year they said “This report demonstrates [and] endorses many of the conclusions contained within the evidence produced by the District Council and establishes that the site does not perform an important role in respect of Green Belt purposes.”

In fact the District Council has in at least three reports, the main one being The Green Belt Review 2012, have stated that they want to remove the St Mathews area (E1 on map} out of Green Belt following Government Planning Guidance.greenbelt

I you want to know what can happen when potential housing land is not protected by Green Belt policies you only have to look at Curborough on the edge of Lichfield.  The MP did nothing to protect the countryside here and he’s done nothing to defend Burntwood’s countryside either.

Hammerwich Parish escapes – for now.

The threat to Hammerwich’s Green Belt off the Highfields Road has been lifted this time as the Council are not proposing development on this parcel of Green Belt.


Following on from the High Court action which the District Council lost when it challenged the Secretary of State’s power to overrule the Lichfield District Local Plan the Cabinet are proposing to withdraw all green belt allocations – this time.  The report to be considered by the Conservative Cabinet on Tuesday 5th December says: “A further analysis of the housing supply has been undertaken, taking into account any potential windfalls to re-assess the need for Green Belt release.”

Thanks to the Secretary of State overriding local views 750 properties have now been added to the numbers available meaning less pressure on Burntwood’s Green Belt – for now but the Local Plan has to be reviewed again soon in order to respond to the housing needs of Greater Birmingham.

This stage of the process is to go out for public consultation between January 8th and February 19th next year.


Lichfield’s Neighbourhood Plan to get go-ahead whilst Burntwood’s “on hold”

On Tuesday Lichfield District Council’s Cabinet will give the go-ahead for the Lichfield City Council’s Neighbourhood Plan to go out for formal consultation followed by a referendum.Lichfield NP

This is the final stage in the Neighbourhood Plan legal process.  Once the Neighbourhood Plan has been agreed, following a majority vote by all those in the area affected on the Electoral Register, it must be taken into account for any future planning applications.  It gives extra protection because it supports local views on what residents want for their area.

You may recall that you were all invited to a public consultation event at the Old Mining College and Burntwood Library on the 4th of November – but that it was cancelled, as was the scheduled meeting of the Neighbourhood Plan Committee this week.

Unfortunately some members of the public, maybe you, missed the cancellation notices and turned up.  Let us hope the Town Council will apologise for the wasted journeys – even if they don’t apologise for the delays in giving Burntwood the Neighbourhood Plan it needs to help protect its local environment.



Hooray! Camera can now take photos

or probably not.

Driving along Cannock Road in Burntwood (at about 26 mph) I noticed the leaves had gone from in front of what is Speed Camera autumnsupposed to be a safety camera installed to deter speeding motorists in Burntwood.  Well credit where it is due, I thought,  when I get back I must thank the Police and Crime Commissioner and/or Lichfield District Council’s Parks dept.

On the return journey (27 mph) it was clear they had nothing to do with it!  It was Mother Nature that had provided a clear view for the camera.  Neither Staffordshire’s Tory Police and Crime Commissioner or the Tory District Council have done anything to make Burntwood’s Road safer.

If this is one of the cameras on 3000 miles of roads (excluding Stoke On Trent) that is switched on then it’s only going to work between November and March or April each year!