Does Birmingham need to build up to 10,000 new homes on the Sutton Coldfield green belt?
Area C. West of Sutton Coldfield Bypass (A38), near Walmley
23rd June 2013
According to the West Midlands Regional Spatial Strategy (RSS), the answer is NO!
Published in 2009, the RSS report seemed to think that Birmingham did not need to go for an urban extension, like Sutton Coldfield, and could accommodate 57,500 homes. i.e. the midpoint of housing options identified, over 20 years without doing so.
The Birmingham Development Plan published late 2012 now claims this projection has changed and the city only has capacity to build 43,000 new homes on sites within the urban area between 2011 and 2031. This shortfall is the reason that the Council felt that it was necessary to undertake the recent consultation in order to consider options for increasing the supply of housing land. This included building up to 10,000 homes on the Sutton Coldfield green belt.
The case for an urban extension within Birmingham was only recommended by a limited number of participants and mostly related to Sutton Coldfield, where a number of developers have interests.
The RSS report rejected the developer’s arguments in favour of the Sutton Coldfield green belt and thought the Black Country a more sustainable location for Birmingham City Council to build some of its future housing allocation.
The Black Country’s Local Plan proposes a level of new housing provision which exceeds the latest projection for household growth. There is therefore potentially available capacity to help meet any shortfall in provision in Birmingham.
The report also felt the Black Country development would make better use of public transport infrastructure and had greater access to sites of employment, compared to Sutton Coldfield where the emphasis to travel is predominantly via the car. Access to the Strategic Road Network (SRN) Ie A38, M42 and M6 Toll, is relatively good and would not be as sustainable.
To conclude, the RSS strongly recommended a focus on ‘urban renaissance’ which it found to be sound.
So you have to wonder what has changed? The findings of the West Midlands Regional Spatial Strategy (RSS) report are as valid today as they were when published.
So what new information is there to suggest Birmingham needs to go for an urban extension on the Sutton Coldfield green belt?
That said, Birmingham City Council will need to provide evidence that there are no other more sustainable alternatives to building on the Sutton Coldfield green belt.
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