UP to 10,000 new homes and a 50 hectare industrial zone could be built on Sutton Coldfield's green belt
26 October, 2012
Sutton Coldfield Observer
Four sites are being looked at to accommodate the extra homes, which are needed to cater for Birmingham's booming population, set to increase by up to 150,000 by 2031.
Areas along the M6 Toll to the north and east of Sutton have been pin-pointed in the council's housing and economic development plan, which was unveiled last Friday (October 19).
Figures are based on the Office of National Statistics projection, that demonstrates the need to create space for 80,000 new homes, as well as industrial and commercial areas that will create at least 100,000 jobs.
Councillor Ian Ward, deputy leader of Birmingham City Council, said: "The level of growth is greater than has previously been considered and presents a significant challenge for planning the future homes and jobs that the city needs".
He explained: "Any housing development on land released from the green belt would have to be accompanied by supporting infrastructure and services such as schools and transport. We have to accept that if this plan doesn't go ahead, people will face being homeless in the future."
Sites identified in Sutton make up a third of the potential green belt land being considered across the whole city.
They have been named as:
A. Hill Wood, East of Watford Gap, North of Mere Green/Roughley;
B.West of M6 Toll, North of Falcom Lodge, Whitehouse Common;
C.West of Sutton Coldfield Bypass (A38), near Walmley and
D. East of Sutton Coldfield Bypass (A38).
But Sutton Trinity Councillor David Pears says this plan will "needlessly upset Sutton Coldfield residents at this stage".
He said: "Part of the attraction in Sutton is the green leafy suburbs, so it will be a less attractive place to live in if they think about building 10,000 homes.
"The idea of having an industrial park is deplorable and all the brown field sites should be considered first.
"If they do build, they will need to improve roads, which will cause more traffic, and they will need to build schools, which will put more pressure on other schools.
"I think the council should be looking long and hard at all the sites that are available and review the population growth when it becomes more of a reality.
"The people of Sutton will be extremely upset and outraged, and I encourage people to comment, if the public consultation goes ahead in November."
The latest detail analysis shows that there is only room for up to 43,000 new dwellings in the city's current urban area – a shortfall in the region of 37,000.
And therefore, "it is necessary to consider options for more housing, including the possible release of some green belt land".
The draft plan, which goes before the council's Cabinet on Monday (October 29) will address the need to accommodate the current economic situation and will look into the need for a large site of at least 50 hectares, which may be needed on the green belt for further economic development.
And Councillor Ian Cruise, Chair of the Birmingham economy and jobs overview and scrutiny committee explained "a reality check is needed to account for the over-growing population".
He said: "Unfortunately, there will be a shortage of houses within the next 20 years if we don't consider all options now."
Early 2011 Census results indicate Birmingham's population grew by 88,000 (nine per cent) to 1.074 million between 2001 and 2011 – 40,000 higher than earlier estimates.
Planning and regeneration director Waheed Nazir said that "there will be an increase to overcrowding, poorer health, homeless people and greater deprivation across the city if something is not done."
He said: "The plan is a legal requirement under the Government's new National Planning Policy Framework and it has to be based on official statistics.
"Although other options have been considered, Sutton green belt meets the criteria and it will allow us to build the houses if we need to.
"This is an evidence led process."
Vesey Councillor Rob Pocock said he was concerned that "Birmingham and its suburbs like Sutton Coldfield are already over-developed".
"The city is already too big, too congested, the roads can't cope with the traffic even now," he added.
"Expanding an ever-growing urban metropolis is not the answer – in fact it is an ecological disaster.
"It may be true that the families in Birmingham and Sutton too, need another 80,000 houses, but what is the sense in cramming them all into an already bulging city boundary?
"As the recent constituency boundaries triumph has shown, we need 'people power' to fight."
If the plans get the go-ahead by the city's cabinet, residents and council members can express their concerns during an eight-week consultation period, which is expected to start in early November and end in mid January.
A final version of the plan will then be presented to the cabinet in summer 2013.