SAVE OUR GREEN BELT!

Shirley res­i­dents step up fight against ‘ ob­scene’ pro­pos­als

Solihull News - - FRONT PAGE - DAVID IR­WIN Lo­cal Democ­racy Re­porter

MAss house- build­ing in the shirley area would re­move great swathes of green belt land and pile ex­tra pres­sure on com­mu­nity ser­vices, res­i­dents have warned.

Al­most 2,500 sig­na­tures have now been col­lected, sup­port­ing calls to re­move Al­lo­ca­tion 13 – an “es­sen­tial” wedge of open space to the south of the Wood­lands es­tate – from soli­hull Coun­cil’s Draft Lo­cal Plan.

Last sun­day, dozens of cam­paign­ers turned out in the sun­shine to take part in a walk across the fields, which they fear will make way for hun­dreds of new homes.

The south soli­hull Com­mu­nity Group, the event or­gan­is­ers, have spear­headed ef­forts to strike the land from the pro­posed list of sites which would be ear­marked for res­i­den­tial de­vel­op­ment.

They were joined on the day by the Green Party’s co- leader sian Berry, who gave her back­ing to the bat­tle.

The lo­cal au­thor­ity this week said that the com­ments re­ceived would be taken into ac­count and a fur­ther con­sul­ta­tion would be held in fu­ture.

sylvia Gar­diner, who has lived in the area for 30 years, said that the space was wellused by ev­ery­one from chil­dren to pensioners.

“It would be dev­as­tat­ing if this goes. [ The land] is a life- sav- er, it re­ally is,” she said. “I ac­tu­ally think it’s ob­scene to even con­sider tak­ing this away from shirley.

“My com­mon sense hat would say it’s a done deal, but my hu­man side be­lieves they will un­der­stand how im­por­tant it is to peo­ple and they won’t be able to sleep at night if they get rid of it.

“Peo­ple are al­ways over here, even in the rain and the snow, and it’s fan­tas­tic. I’m over here ev­ery day and I’m not the only one.”

Mark Davies, of nearby Lox­ley Av­enue, de­scribed the pro- pos­als as “ab­so­lute mad­ness” and ar­gued that lo­cal ser­vices would not be able to cope with a dra­matic in­crease in prop­er­ties.

“There is not the room here for that num­ber of ex­tra peo­ple,” he said.

The group were met on the day by Ms Berry, the new coleader of the Greens, who ex­pressed con­cern about the pro­pos­als.

“I can see that this choice, of this par­tic­u­lar site is quite wrong ac­tu­ally,” she said.

“We are see­ing far too many bits of green belt be­ing cho­sen over in­creas­ing the num­ber of peo­ple who can live in cities, close to pub­lic trans­port.

“We don’t need to see more

sprawl, be­cause that will lead to more traf­fic, it will lead to more peo­ple liv­ing in carde­pen­dent homes there are other places to build homes that are bet­ter linked up with Birm­ing­ham and Soli­hull.”

Al­lo­ca­tion 13 was among four sites in the area pre­vi­ously ear­marked for a to­tal of more than 2,500 homes, al­though there are fears higher density de­vel­op­ment could push the num­ber up­wards.

Councillor Max McLough- lin ( Green, Shirley South) ar­gued that Shirley was on course to take a dis­pro­por­tion­ate amount of the hous­ing on the hori­zon.

Ear­lier this month he pre­sented the res­i­dents’ lat­est pe­ti­tion to Full Coun­cil, cit­ing con­cerns that fur­ther house­build­ing could see Shirley and neigh­bour­ing Dick­ens Heath even­tu­ally merge.

“This is the wrong place,” he said.

“The plans for growth are around the im­pact of HS2, but the house build­ing is in the least ac­ces­si­ble part of the bor­ough to ben­e­fit HS2.

“It would take an hour at peak times to get from these houses to HS2. What’s worse is that this lo­ca­tion doesn’t have sus­tain­able travel in mind.”

Soli­hull Coun­cil is con­tin­u­ing to work on its lat­est ver­sion of the Draft Lo­cal Plan, which will set the blue­print for fu­ture de­vel­op­ment in the bor­ough into the 2030s.

Last month, Coun Ian Courts, cabi­net mem­ber for man­aged growth, had warned that pub­lic op­po­si­tion alone would not be suf­fi­cient to al­ter pro­pos­als, unless it was backed up by solid plan­ning grounds.

A Soli­hull Coun­cil spokesper­son said: “Con­sul­ta­tion on the Draft Lo­cal Plan fin­ished in Fe­bru­ary 2017 and the coun­cil pub­lished a com­pre­hen­sive sum­mary of all rep­re­sen­ta­tions that were re­ceived.

“The re­sponses will be taken into ac­count as the next ver­sion of the plan is pre­pared and pub­lished for fur­ther con­sul­ta­tion.

“In pre­par­ing the next ver­sion of the plan, ac­count will be taken of the po­ten­tial im­pact pro­posed al­lo­ca­tions may have on her­itage as­sets and the avail­abil­ity and po­ten­tial suit­abil­ity of al­ter­na­tive sites.”

The timescale for pub­li­ca­tion of the submission draft ( for con­sul­ta­tion) is now sum­mer 2019.

The coun­cil has said this will al­low more time to take ac­count of ad­vice con­tained in the re­vised Na­tional Plan­ning Pol­icy Frame­work.

Res­i­dents pre­pare to set out on their walk. Front row, from left, Sylvia Gar­diner, Councillor Andy Hodg­son, Green Party co- leader Sian Berry, cam­paigner Shahin Ashraf and Councillor Max McLough­lin

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