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.

22.02.18