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.

Background

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.

30.11.17

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.

30.11.17

 

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!

19.11.17

 

 

Police expect volunteers in Burntwood to catch speeding motorists – but don’t switch their own cameras on!

Whilst Community Speed Watch volunteers in Burntwood give their time (and risk some abuse) trying to make our roads safer in Chasetown, Chase Terrace and Boney Hay Staffordshire Police admit they only have 5% of their cameras switched on.

CspeedW

It might be that there is a camera somewhere in the Burntwood and Hammerwich area that is working but in a reply to the Press Association’s Freedom of Information request last week Staffordshire Police responded to say that only 14 out of their 272 road safety cameras are switched on.

Clearly they are not “switched on” to the benefit of deterrence – unlike the West Midlands Force which has 100% operating.  Their Police and Crime Commissioner has reported recently on a 14% reduction in accidents because of this different attitude to road safety.  West Mercia has 69% switched on and even Warwickshire has 33% operating.  Our Police and Crime Commissioner has not issued a statement or apology.

Speed CameraSo we can be pretty sure that this camera on Cannock Road (outside Burntwood Park where children play) is not switched on but if it is then clearly Lichfield District Council, who are responsible for the trees, don’t want anybody being caught there.

Road Safety organisation Brake has commented on this finding and if you want statistics to help you lobby Staffordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner then take a look at their website.

05.11.17

 

 

 

 

Secretary of State can overrule local views

Yesterday the High Court confirmed that the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government had the power to overrule local residents, the District Council and the Independent Planning Inspector in giving the go-ahead for 750 dwellings near Lichfield.

SOS
Sajid Javid

Whilst Lichfield District Council was able to defend the Local Plan in the High Court against developers in July 2015 it is a different situation now.

The previous blog described the threat to the Local Plan if Lichfield District Council lost the fight although it may mean less pressure on the Green Belt around Burntwood.

Planning Permission for 750 homes in Curborough means 750 are not needed elsewhere – at the moment.  But we must not be too relieved in Burntwood because this means the Local Plan could be overruled by the Government again in the future and there is a pack of developers waiting to pounce.  In the future, after this initial period, Birmingham still needs land for their population increase.

What is the current situation?

Lichfield District Council officers and Cabinet members are having to consider the judgement and the 5000 representations from residents and developers to the consultation over the Housing Allocation sites two of which are within the current Green Belt boundary.

Coulter Lane pic
Coulter Lane

It has been reported elsewhere that the Coulter Lane site earmarked for 80 dwellings has been taken off the list but that is not so.  Officers are still to submit a detailed report to Cabinet – probably on the 5th of December.

Who sent in representations and who didn’t?

You will not be surprised to see that Lichfield’s MP did not write to support the Green Belt in and around Burntwood in the Consultation Report.  Of course had it been a Labour Secretary of State he would have asked questions in Parliament and lobbied the District Council but in fact he supports their policies whilst trying to kid protesters in Burntwood that he is on their side!

11.10.17

 

 

 

 

Burntwood Green Belt threat – lots of known unknowns

These issues were highlighted at last night’s Scrutiny meeting at Lichfield District Council to discuss the Local Plan, Brownfield Sites and Housing Allocation sites that threaten Burntwood’s Green Belt boundary:

If they lose the High Court action against the Secretary of State regarding the Curborough decision then fewer houses should be needed easing the pressure on the Green Belt – though officers were not fully confident that that would necessarily follow.

If they lose it also means the Local Plan, supported by residents and the Independent Inspector, can be overridden by the Secretary of State – not that Mr Fabricant has shown any concern about this.

apartmentsBirmingham’s housing requirement was also a big unknown not just now but in a few year’s time – the neighbouring districts, including Lichfield, need to find room for 37,900 homes now.

So when will we have the detailed responses to the 5000 representations?

That’s an unknown too.  Officer time is limited and lack of Council funding just adds to the unknowns.  Of course if one group of objectors win their argument and a housing site is deleted from there – it will have to be found elsewhere.  Whilst Tamworth’s MP has supported (belatedly) Shenstone objectors Lichfield’s MP is nowhere – but could be seen on Channel 4 later this year – and is no doubt concentrating on that rather than his electors.

20.09.17

 

 

 

 

 

District Council to look at Housing Allocation Sites consultation on Tuesday.

On Tueday, 19th September, in addition to the Lichfield Local Plan progress and the Brownfield Site Register, item 7 (page 52) of the Economic Growth, the Environment and Development (Overview and Scrutiny) Committee Agenda has the result of the Housing Allocations Consultation – including the possible loss of Green Belt in Burntwood.

greenbeltAbout 5000 representations were received by the District Council between 20th March and 12th of May 2017 – with a few received after the deadline.

Although no decisions on the sites will be made on the night – apart to support the recommendation that the current Green Belt proposals are reviewed after the result of a High Court judgement is known – it will be interesting see what questions are asked of officers and Cabinet members.

Legal challenge to Secretary of State

The District Council has challenged the Conservative Secretary of State over his approval for 750 houses at Watery Lane, Curborough even though this meant that he overrode the Local Plan which had gone through public consultation and supported by the Planning Inspector.  The written judgement is still awaited and has a two edged sword.

If the High Court finds for the District Council then the Local Plan is intact and will proceed as planned with the threat to the Green Belt.  However, if the Court sides with the Secretary of State then that’s 750 houses (at least – it won’t stop there) not needed on Green Belt land and so may benefit Burntwood.

LPA 300 representation by former Councillor, Steve Norman, makes the point albeit from a purely selfish Burntwood perspective:

Object to the use of Green Belt land for housing unless there are exceptional circumstances where the district and neighbours cannot accommodate more houses required. Curborough is not in Green Belt, is sustainable according to the Secretary of State and so can lessen the pressure on the Green Belt which must take priority.

Who has and who hasn’t bothered to make representation?

Lichfield District Council Labour Group’s submission is:

  • Opposes development within Green Belt, in particular sites B14 and B15.
  • Do not believe there is any justification for sites at Coulter Lane and Highfields Road to be considered as ‘exceptional circumstances.
  • Burntwood suffers from lack of infrastructure investment. Services have not followed development. Burntwood community is overwhelmingly opposed to any reduction of its valued Green Belt.
  • Do not believe all brownfield sites within the District have been considered or that evidence showing brownfield sites to be ‘unsustainable’ has not been provided or tested. Urge all brownfield sites to be thoroughly investigated before allocations are made on Green Belt.
  • Labour Group believe what is exception about these two sites is the controversy and opposition, including cross-Party opposition, that they have received.
  • Argue the impact of the proposals in Burntwood is disproportionate and totally unacceptable. There is no guarantee that any planning gain monies would address the current problems, let alone possible future problems.
  • Believe sites B14 and B15 would probably become commuter areas, adding little to the community life in the town while adding to the pressures on its services.

One latecomer (at least he did lobby for his electors even though it was too late to be included in the formal responses) was the MP for Tamworth.

Our Member of Parliament (Salary: £76.011, expenses: £24,000 for 2016-17) has done nothing again.  In fact he claims he cannot get involved in planning issues – unless it is a Labour Government of course.

13.09.17