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!
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!
If 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.
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.”
Tell 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.
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.
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.
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.
Driving along Cannock Road in Burntwood (at about 26 mph) I noticed the leaves had gone from in front of what is supposed 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!
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.
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.
So 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.
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.
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.
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!