Proposals for major housing and industrial development on Sutton Coldfield’s green belt will be passed to a Government planning inspector after getting the backing of Birmingham City Councillors.
Birmingham City Council’s Labour administration has backed the latest version of its development plan which includes the construction of 5,000 homes and a Jaguar Land Rover-sized industrial estate on green belt land near Walmley.
This was despite last minute bids by Conservative and Liberal Democrat councillors to stall the plan and hold further rounds of consultation.
But the Labour deputy leader Ian Ward warned them that there has already been three rounds of widespread consultation and that to delay further would put the entire Development Plan at risk and leave Birmingham’s wider green belt open to exploitation by house builders.
Coun Ward (Shard End) warned that Stratford-upon-Avon had refused to accommodate green belt development and ended up with it forced on them by Secretary of State Eric Pickles.
“There was consent given to housing on appeal very, very close to Anne Hathaway’s Cottage, and that is the risk we run here.”
He has argued that by giving up a modest amount of green belt to partially meet the demand for 80,000 new homes over the next 20 years then they could protect the rest.
And told rivals that it was the Tory-Lib Dem Coalition Government which had set the National Planning Policy Framework under which Birmingham’s development plan was constructed.
Highlighting the fact there is room for about 45,000 homes within the built up city, Lib Dem group leader Paul Tilsley (Sheldon) said: “The sequence has to be brownfield first, green belt second.”
Conservative chairwoman of Sutton Coldfield district Anne Underwood said that Labour’s track record, in developing on fields in Four Oaks and Walmley in the late 1990s, suggested a vindictive attitude to the Royal Town’s green belt.
Coun Underwood (Sutton Four Oaks) added: “Like the rainforests, once the green belt has been built on its gone. You don’t get people knocking down houses to restore green belt.”
The Development Plan will be considered by a Government Planning Inspector at a public inquiry next year, before being handed back to the Council for final approval.