Westminster Column

21st December 2012

I wanted to write my final View from the House for 2012 on a significant local issue which will focus the minds of all of us in Sutton Coldfield in 2013.

This is the proposal put forward by Labour-controlled Birmingham City Council to build 10,000 homes on Sutton Coldfield’s Green Belt. It is essential that all other options are explored immediately and I would like to take this opportunity to update everyone on what measures I am taking, both in Parliament and in Sutton Coldfield, to do my utmost to ensure that building on the Green Belt does not go ahead.

It is essential that Birmingham City Council’s Planning Department take a more detailed look at Brownfield land available throughout Birmingham and once it is identified take a more imaginative and creative approach to building new communities there. In addition, the City Council should look at Brownfield land available across the West Midlands and throughout the Local Enterprise Partnership with proper respect for the wishes of all local authorities some of whom are seeking more housing and inward investment.

I have also recommended that the City Council conduct a full study on the effects of building on Sutton Coldfield’s Green Belt including the effects on infrastructure, medical and school facilities and transport as well as environmental effects, drainage and overall suitability and look further at the housing figures whilst taking into account new and lower estimates for international immigration.

On Friday 14 December, along with Parliamentary colleagues, I signed an amendment to the Growth & Infrastructure Bill which if successful would require planning authorities to identify that there is, or will be, sufficient infrastructure to support new development in their development plans. As this is a major concern amongst my constituents I will be tabling questions to the Secretary of State for Communities & Local Government on this topic, as well as speaking about it in the House of Commons, in the New Year.

That so many of my constituents attended the Public Meeting I recently held and signed the petition organised by local Councillors reflects the opposition to these proposals. My constituents can be assured that Sutton’s Councillors and I are vigorously resisting the proposals.
Birmingham City Council’s public consultation on this matter ends on 14 January 2013. I would strenuously urge all those who value our Green Belt in Sutton Coldfield to make individual submissions to the consultation. It is vital that the City Council is aware of Sutton’s united front in opposing these plans.

I wish you all a very happy Christmas.