Nuneaton Telegraph - - FRONT PAGE -

THE fu­ture of a his­toric wind­mill on the edge of Coven­try is ‘un­der threat’ from a po­ten­tial hous­ing de­vel­op­ment.

Cam­paign­ers have warned Berk­swell Wind­mill in Wind­mill Lane, Bal­sall Com­mon, could be threat­ened by Soli­hull Coun­cil’s long-term hous­ing plans.

Land near the 200-year-old grade II-listed wind­mill has been placed on the coun­cil’s brown­field land regis­ter, prompt­ing a flurry of com­plaints from res­i­dents..

Those who have voiced their op­po­si­tion fear any de­vel­op­ment on the land would have a neg­a­tive ef­fect on the wind­mill – which was built in 1826 and un­der­went a ma­jor restora­tion a few years ago.

A Soli­hull Coun­cil re­port said it recog­nised the weight of pub­lic con­cern, but ar­gued that at this stage the regis­ter was de­signed only to list “pre­vi­ously de­vel­oped land” suit­able for hous­ing. Jeanette McGarry, owner of Berk­swell Wind­mill, said:“The re­sponse just goes to show how im­por­tant the wind­mill is as a mon­u­ment,” she said. “It is not just lo­cal res­i­dents, it is na­tional or­gan­i­sa­tions which recog­nise its sig­nif­i­cance

“The coun­cil are flout­ing democ­racy. They asked for re­sponses to the con­sul­ta­tion, the peo­ple re­sponded and they have ig­nored them.”

Ob­jec­tions were also made by Bal­sall Par­ish Coun­cil, Berk­swell Par­ish Coun­cil and the Mid­land Wind and Wa­ter Mills Group.

All lo­cal au­thor­i­ties are now re­quired by the Gov­ern­ment to pro­duce a brown­field land regis­ter, with a list of 27 sites around the bor­ough of Soli­hull agreed for in­clu­sion at a re­cent de­ci­sion ses­sion.

It is cal­cu­lated that over­all the sites could ac­com­mo­date be­tween 1,067 and 1,738 dwellings, with a tract of land at the NEC and the for­mer TRW site, on the Strat­ford Road, Shirley, con­sid­ered to have the great­est ca­pac­ity. In ad­di­tion, coun­cil of­fi­cers have also sifted through the Plan­ning Regis­ter to iden­tify suit­able lo­ca­tions.

Cllr Ian Courts, cab­i­net mem­ber for man­aged growth, said that Soli­hull Coun­cil had made changes to the list fol­low­ing the re­cent con­sul­ta­tion ex­er­cise and stressed that at this stage the regis­ter was about iden­ti­fy­ing those sites which matched the brown­field cri­te­ria.

“I think, in the main, ob­jec­tions have been on the ba­sis that this is a plan­ning ap­pli­ca­tion or some­thing like it, it is not,” he said.

The present wind­mill was built in 1826 and con­tin­ued to op­er­ate un­til 1948.

A ma­jor restora­tion project – cost­ing £200,000 – was com­pleted at the site in 2013.

It is com­plete with all of its orig­i­nal ma­chin­ery and is thought to be one of the most com­plete mills in the coun­try.

There are reg­u­lar open days for vis­i­tors.

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