Dear Editor, Before Birmingham Council agrees to allocate land in the green belt for housing it would do well to ask a few basic questions.
Why have the Government’s predictions for population in the West Midlands Region suddenly risen and why is the rise in those figures so much higher than the national average?
How did this lead to particularly dramatic rises in the supposed housing need for Birmingham and Coventry?
How can such nationally derived figures be meaningful at such a local level?
More fundamentally, what happened to the Government’s promise that we would move away from these long term statistical projections and concentrate on building homes where they’re needed, taking account of the environmental and social needs of local areas?
Which leads to perhaps the biggest question of all.
Why can’t we build on the acres of brownfield land first and only introduce green belt if we really have to?
Like many politicians Birmingham Council quote currently available brown field land as if this was the sum total of what will become available.
In fact research we published showed that brown field land is constantly coming onto the market as unexpected windfall sites replenish the supply.
It’s not that CPRE doesn’t believe there is a need for new housing but we know from past experience that once the easier-to-develop green belt sites are in the pipeline developers will find ways to cherry-pick those in preference to urban sites.
If we are to keep the green lungs of the city and provide homes where they are needed Birmingham should resist opening up its green belt and creating more urban sprawl.
It should work collaboratively with the Black Country and Coventry who continue to work to developing within their urban boundaries.
Gerald Kells, West Midlands Policy Officer
Campaign to Protect Rural England