Westminster Column - Green Belt

23rd September 2014

At the end of next month the Birmingham Development Plan will reach its Examination Stage with a series of public Hearing Sessions at Aston University. The crucial dates for Sutton Coldfield are Tuesday 28th and Wednesday 29th October, where our Green Belt will be under discussion. I will of course attend and speak at the public hearing on behalf of Sutton Coldfield. I will go there with a very strong message to the independent examiners – we do not want our Green Belt touched, nor do we believe that it is necessary.

Regular readers of this column will be well versed in our arguments against this proposal, but I would like to summarise once again why I so strongly oppose this plan.

It is of course clear that there is a need for new housing in the Birmingham area – it is a rapidly developing city. This is a positive development. As Birmingham grows and prospers, that prosperity benefits the Royal Town of Sutton Coldfield. We all benefit from living beside Britain’s thriving second City.

None of us disputes that more housing needs to be built to support and further this expansion. However, it does not serve the general interests of anyone in the wider Birmingham area to build on Sutton’s Green Belt. Throughout Sutton we are resolutely opposed to the scale of development outlined in the Plan, and our arguments are cogent and well thought through in pointing to other alternatives.

I know that these sentiments are echoed by the overwhelming majority of Suttonians through the thousands of objections expressed both personally to myself, through the Public Meetings held during the Consultation period and through hundreds of letters, and through the formal Consultation process. Over 1000 people attended the meetings, and we know that the response to the formal consultation was equally overwhelming.

This represents a combination of two key forces in Sutton Coldfield – a strong tradition of activism and a deep pride in our Town. This was reaffirmed to me earlier this year in the scale of the response to the reassertion of our Royal Town Status. This was an important victory for the Town – preserving our Green Belt should be our next one.