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Redrow faces more rejection over controversial housing estate

Plans for disused playing fields in Harborne set to hit the buffers again after housebuilder told proposals are 'unacceptable' due to loss of recreational space

Will Redrow have to go back to the drawing board again?

Controversial and long-running plans to build a new housing estate on a former playing fields in a Birmingham suburb are set to be thrown out next week.

Housebuilder Redrow, which is owned by Wolverhampton Wanderers chairman Steve Morgan, has been trying to secure permission to build on the former Ravenhurst Playing Fields site in Harborne for several years.

In 2014, it submitted plans for 121 houses, subsequently scaled back to 103 a few months later and then dramatically reduced again last summer to 73.

The houses, including 18 affordable units, would range from two to five bedrooms and there would be a children's play area and 3.4 acres of public space, an enlarged amount as a result of having fewer houses.

But it has been met with opposition throughout the process from a campaign group angry over the loss of sporting and recreation facilities, its effect on protected badgers, the risk of flooding and availability of local school places.

Birmingham City Council officers have now recommended the project is rejected by its planning committee when it meets next Thursday.

In a report prepared for the committee, it said the application was unacceptable due to the loss of playing fields land and the impact it would have on a discovered badger colony as well as limited compensation being offered for the loss.

Redrow is keen to build on the former Ravenhurst Playing Fields
Redrow is keen to build on the former Ravenhurst Playing Fields

David Rigby, from the Friends of Ravenhurst Playing Fields, said: "We need more sports provision and it has not been demonstrated that something equally as good can be provided elsewhere in that area.

"We want these fields to be used as was always intended and we've tried to demonstrate there has been interest in using them.

"In an ideal world, the friends would like to see it retained as fields but if we can come to a compromise where there are fewer houses and a cricket pitch or something similar, that would be great.

"There is a concern that councillors will ignore the recommendations and award the permission anyway. They could just turn round and say 'what's a few sports pitches when we need more houses'.

"If that happens, then that really will be the end of it."

Developers have been eyeing the 11-acre site, between Knightlow Road and Gilhurst Road, for more than a decade and Wimpey was behind a previous scheme.

The friends group was formed in 2005 to oppose wholesale redevelopment of the site so it could be retained for community and recreational uses.

Since 1993, Ravenhurst Playing Fields have been owned by the Oratory, the Catholic church on the Hagley Road in Edgbaston, which previously said it needed to raise funds from the land sale to continue its charitable work.

They were previously used by sixth form students and Dixonians Rugby Club until 2004 after which it has fallen into disuse.

However, the council report said local youth groups and football clubs had expressed an interest in using the site.

Redrow said it did not wish to comment ahead of the planning committee meeting.

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