Developers have hit back against claims that a Solihull housing scheme will destroy a beautiful English country lane.

The Sandstone Group, which wants to build 71 flats and houses on the back gardens of 10 existing homes in Marston Green, described a campaign by residents as a "catalogue of inaccuracies and misrepresentation".

It said it had already modified the scheme following complaints from local people.

A petition posted on the Downing Street website, by local resident Penny Parkes, who lives close to the development site in Elmdon lane, urges the Government "not to let the council destroy our way of life, our beautiful leafy lane".

A campaign group, the Marston Green Against Overdevelopment Residents' Committee, said the "high density" housing scheme would place further pressure on the village's already over-stretched resources.

Opposition to the scheme is also backed by local MP Caroline Spelman, who claimed the new estate would do nothing to provide affordable housing for people in need because the flats would be sold for more than #200,000.

But a Sandstone Group spokesman insisted it was misleading to describe the site as a beautiful part of the countryside.

He said: "The site in question is on land behind Elmdon Lane on the perimeter of Birmingham International Airport.

"Elmdon Lane s a pleasant suburban road but by no stretch of the imagination can be described as a beautiful country lane."

Sandstone point out that the scheme, which will go before Solihull Council planning committee for approval, includes 28 affordable homes designated for shared ownership.

The spokesman added: "In addition to this a number of the properties in the private element of the scheme are small terraced and will therefore be modestly priced. To suggest there is no affordable housing is wrong.

"Caroline Spelman needs to be clear if she accepts that there is a serious shortage of housing both nationally and regionally. If so she needs to be clear where this housing should be built."

Sandstone added: "We understand that people get concerned when development is proposed within their area and take our responsibility as neighbours very seriously.

"Before making the application Sandstone held a public consultation and took very seriously their comments as a result of which the scheme has been significantly modified with a reduction in the number of properties from 90 to just over 70."