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

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.

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.

10.12.17