Campaigners fighting plans to build 800 homes over a Midland golf club have lashed out after developers refused to speak at a public meeting.
A Birmingham councillor attacked property developer Bloor Homes for its “no-show” at an event to discuss the huge scheme at North Worcestershire Golf Club.
Councillor Andy Cartwright had invited the developer to attend a Longbridge ward committee meeting to outline details of the controversial plan to build on the century-old Northfield golf club and said that it had agreed to do so. But just two hours before the meeting, he received an email saying the firm would not be attending after all.
It was followed by a telephone conversation when the Longbridge Labour councillor claims he was told by Bloor Homes they would not be there to take questions amid concerns the meeting would be “a cattle market”.
A Bloor Homes spokesman strongly denied the “cattle market” claims but Coun Cartwright has stood by them.
He said: “After getting an email from someone at Bloor, I rang the person up and he said I am not going to come – it will be a cattle market, it would be one-way traffic.
“When I asked them to come along to the meeting I had said that they would get a bit of flak but they said that was fair enough and that they would come. But if that’s what they think of the residents of Longbridge I don’t want them building there.”
In all around 80 people attended the meeting, along with Longbridge ward councillors Jess Phillips and Ian Cruise, as well as Northfield MP Richard Burden. Officers from Birmingham City Council’s highways and planning departments were also there.
Coun Cartwright said although Bloor Homes did not officially attend to speak they did send two representatives along, who took notes throughout the meeting.
“What angered me more was that two guys from Bloor were sitting in the audience taking notes,” he said.
Although Bloor Homes is planning to hold two public consultation meetings regarding the golf course development in July, Coun Cartwright said he was annoyed at the firm’s silence, as it would have given them the chance to engage with local residents.
“The only way they can get them onside is to have these meetings,” he said. “All I am saying is to be a part of Longbridge if this is what you want to do. All they had to do was speak for 10 minutes. We had everyone there – highways engineers and someone from planning – so that no matter what question was asked, there was someone there who could answer it.”
Councillor Cartwright added that residents felt the area was in danger of being overloaded with new homes due to 1,000 houses being built on the former MG Rover site at Longbridge and at other sites nearby.
Northfield resident Darren Thelwell, who attended the meeting, said: “The councillors said Bloor Homes were not coming as they didn’t want to face a cattle market.
“Calling local residents a cattle market is not a good policy if you want to build 800 homes on our doorstep.”
First announced in February, the agreement by the Golf Club to sell the 80-acre site to Bloor Homes sparked fury among neighbours. They claim the club in Frankley Beeches Road has reneged on a pledge not to sell out despite numerous previous offers.
In April last year the club, which was founded in 1907, announced it had turned down offers to buy it, despite being approached by several firms keen on turning it into a housing estate.
The proposals come after adult male membership at the club fell from more than 400 in 2005 to 276 last year, meaning income has dipped by £130,000. Bloor Homes says the proposals could include playing fields, footpaths, cycleways and open space.
A Bloor Homes spokesman said the firm categorically refuted the allegation it likened the meeting to a cattle market but said no one was available to comment further on why it did not take part in the discussion.