Developers lobby Birmingham City Council for larger green belt release in Sutton Coldfield
Photo by lydia_shiningbrightly of Flickr
23rd March 2014
Sutton Coldfield Rural Campaign and Beacon Street Area Residents' Association (BSARA), a member of the Lichfield Alliance, have discovered during the Birmingham Development Plan 2031 (Pre-submission) consultation, a consortium made representations, through a joint industry study, for further green belt to be released in Sutton Coldfield for housing.
The study was designed to comprehensively assess the housing requirements both within Birmingham and surrounding local authorities based on the most up-to-date official population and household projections published by ONS and CLG.
In essence, the latest findings of the study hope to demonstrate that Birmingham City Council’s housing target of 84,000 homes, between 2011-2031 is insufficient and not surprisingly, a higher figure of between 135,000 to 153,000 should be adopted.
Developers once again argued that Sutton Coldfield green belt could conservatively accommodate 9,360 dwellings in the period up to 2031 with capacity to deliver up to 17,880 dwellings at 30 dwellings per hectare.
It is hardly surprising that developers have put their RSS proposals back on the table and used the NPPF and smoke and mirrors via PopGroup software to put pressure back on the Council. During the West Midlands RSS, similar proposals were put forward by developers and were thrown out by the Inspectors.
It is a spirited manoeuvre to try and ensure further Sutton Coldfield green belt is released for development. However, Inspectors’ have so far been very reluctant to step away from housing needs assessments that are not anchored in the very robust 2008-based projection.
The ONS website states their next local authority (subnational) long-term population projection will be 2012-based and will cover the period 2012-2037. This is not expected to be released until May or Jun/2014. Housing numbers are driven off household projections and these will not be available for at least a year later, so probably too late for developers to take advantage of.
Planning Inspectors have been advised not apply pressure on Local Authorities to review green belt land for housing
In recent weeks, it has also emerged planning inspectors have been advised not to push Council’s into green belt reviews they do not wish to conduct.
“PINS HQ is advising inspectors that the decision whether to treat unmet need as an exceptional circumstance justifying a GB boundary review is one for the Council and not for the examiner to take. They are advised that the Minister wants Inspectors, where there is unmet need in a Green Belt area, to ask if a review had been considered, but that Inspectors cannot insist that it is considered.”
Never the less, it would now appear difficult to sway the Council into releasing further green belt for additional housing, when the Council’s policy is in favour of adopting the findings of the green belt assessment - two green belt sites in Walmley to be released for the development of 6,000 houses and 80 hectares of employment.
So ultimately, this strategy is probably more about putting pressure on the GBSLEP to be more generous about the amount of spill over housing that neighbours are asked to provide on Birmingham's behalf.
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