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.
How 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.
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 – without 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.
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.