Westminster Column - Green Belt Public Inquiry

31st October 2014

On Tuesday at the public hearings on the Birmingham Development Plan I called strongly for compromise on plans to build 6,000 homes on Sutton’s Green Belt.

Highlighting the unity of opposition to the plans from all Royal Town residents I called for an eight to ten year moratorium for building on Sutton’s Green Belt so the rest of the plan can be implemented first and allowed to bed in and a better assessment of the figures, especially the inward immigration figures, on which the Councils Development Plan relies can be attained.

Having such a break before building on the Green Belt would not bar the BCC from introducing a responsible and effective plan with respect to new housing but would allow for other alternatives to be fully explored rather than build on the increasingly scarce green belt land which is an integral part of the town’s character.

Like many of my constituents I am conscious that we receive the Green Belt not as freeholders to do as we please but in trust. We want to pass it on to our children and grandchildren. Once built on we cannot get it back.

I emphasised that building would put strain on transport infrastructure, schools, health care and other amenities and that there are a large number of other sites inside Birmingham where the need is highest and the economic benefits of development more apparent. I also pointed again to the fact that the inward immigration figures being used to justify development on the Green Belt remain extremely unclear and have changed radically during the course of the consultation. An eight to ten year pause would allow for a clearer picture of demand to emerge and a better assessment than we currently have can be made.

I highlighted the frustration from the almost 6,000 Suttonians who registered their objections to the plan during the Council’s consultation period that their ideas were dismissed and spoke with pride at the spirit of localism shown by all in Sutton Coldfield in objecting to the plans.

I sincerely hope the points I put forward together with those of Suzanne Webb and Projects Fields, Councillors Ken Wood, Ewan Mackey and David Barrie, who represent the areas most affected by the current plans are taken into consideration by the Planning Inspectorate when reviewing the Council’s ill-timed and ill-thought out plan.