Sutton Coldfield MP Andrew Mitchell to join green belt homes campaigners on protest walk
2nd January 2014
Sutton Coldfield Observer
THE fight to save Sutton’s coveted green belt land was set to stride into action today (Friday), with MP Andrew Mitchell joining local councillors and campaigners on a peaceful protest walk.
Mr Mitchell, who has vowed to “vigorously oppose” the proposed development plan to build 5,000 homes on land west of the A38 Sutton Coldfield Bypass near Walmley and Falcon Lodge, was due to lend his support by walking the perimeter of the earmarked site.
The walk, which was set to travel along Webster Way, Thimble End and Springfield Road before going onto the fields, comes just three days before an eight-week public consultation on the scheme begins on Monday (January 6).
Speaking ahead of this morning’s walk, Suzanne Webb, of Project Fields, one of the campaign groups battling the proposals, said: “There is no other agenda than to publicise the start of the consultation; to show strength and support against the planned proposal to build on the fields. To that end it is a peaceful walk.
“We would like as many people to attend to raise awareness and encourage people from other areas in Sutton so they can see that the scope of the proposal and that it isn’t just a small “housing build” but a planning proposal that will change the very nature of Sutton Coldfield and impact all our futures.”
The event comes after an “unprecedented” turnout for the first public meeting held to discuss the scheme took place at St John’s Church Hall, during which multi-million pound plans for a Walmley railway station were mooted by Birmingham City Council bosses.
Brian Storer, chair of Walmley Residents’ Association, said: “The promise of a railway station as a long-term solution, costing around £250million, was more than people could bear. We all know that this will never happen as the railway companies are cutting costs and services across the UK and have very little budget for long-term investment.
“Then there’s the SPRINT bus service that’s being considered; this sounded more like a “sticking plaster” than a solution. The service will still have to contend with the increased traffic heading off to Birmingham.
“New access to the A38 and a few highway improvements at key junctions for the new houses sound good but have the planners used the A38 during the busy hour? Ask the daily commuters how they think this will impact on what is a daily struggle to find a route into Birmingham.
“The good news is that improvements to public services are being considered and there will be new cycling and walking connections.”
But Mr Storer said he fears how local facilities will cope with the huge influx of people if the development is approved.
“After checking with Good Hope Hospital the council is confident that the occupants of the 5,000 homes can be catered for,” he said. “This is quite unbelievable as I don’t think that they have asked the local residents who are having to wait months for an appointment and then wait up to four hours to get into A&E.
“We have all seen this before, where infrastructure is promised, but once the developers have paid the infrastructure monies into the council they will find more pressing needs to spend much of the money elsewhere in Birmingham.
“You only have to look at Walmley Village and the centre of Sutton to see that very little investment has been made in the infrastructure for many years. There are always promises but nothing ever seems to materialise.”
In addition to the protest walk, another public meeting will take place at St John’s Church Hall on Friday, January 10, at 7.30pm, chaired by campaigner Ken Wood.
“We need to show our solidarity here and attend these two key meetings to show that we do care about keeping the green belt intact,” Mr Storer added
“Enough is enough, where it’s about time that the residents across Sutton Coldfield were considered and listened to and not just the developers and speculators who have one priority which is return on investment.
“The Walmley Residents’ Association is working with all parties in this campaign, from whatever political party and also with the Project Fields team.”
The consultation period
The consultation will last for eight weeks from 6th January until 12 noon on 3rd March, 2014.
Submitting your comments
Comments may be submitted:
A comment form can be downloaded by clicking here if you wish to use this option.
By Post to:
Director of Planning and Regeneration, Development and Culture Directorate
Birmingham City Council
PO Box 28
Council officers will be at Sutton Library on January 16 and 23, and February 8, from 10am to 4pm to provide advice and assistance.
They will also be visiting Walmley Library on January 22 from 10am to 12.30pm and February 15, from 10am to 1pm.
Birmingham Development Plan 2031: Completing Comments Form - Part B Comments on soundness
Everybody needs good neighbours: Invitation to Brum's neighbouring LA's to comment on the Birmingham Development Plan 2031
Green Belt campaigners conclude the Birmingham Development Plan 2031 (Pre-submission version) is unsound
Pressure mounting on infrastructure providers as Draft Birmingham Development Plan released
Important rail link construction hits the buffers
Public sector housing contribution at fault for Birmingham’s housing shortage
Up to 19,000 new homes proposed near busy Lichfield to Birmingham rail route
Calls for Birmingham City Council to review housing levels as green belt targeted for new homes
Council targets green belt homes while thousands of houses stand empty across Birmingham
Sutton Coldfield Rural Campaign challenges Council’s housing projections
A38 commuter route puts Birmingham Local Plan in reverse