Sutton Coldfield campaigners have launched a scathing attack on the coalition government for reneging on promises to outlaw “garden grabbing” housing developments.
Five men, who all live in Bennett Road, Four Oaks, have mobilised a campaign against a planning application that has not even been lodged yet.
They are planning to oppose the imminent plans for a cul-de-sac that will be created in five back gardens and will house five new family homes.
They already claim that up to 200 people could oppose plans for the five-bedroom homes and they have attacked the document that was sent to every local authority by the new government.
The letter, sent in June, removed gardens as brownfield sites and asked them to “work with communities” but did not give the local councils any legal powers to turn down garden applications.
In the last decade some of the West Midlands’ most affluent suburbs, including Sutton Coldfield, Solihull, Edgbaston and Hall Green, have seen developers snap up large gardens and turn them into blocks of flats, terraced houses and even tiny cul-de-sacs.
In the last few weeks planners from Solihull and Birmingham have said they are powerless to refuse the applications under current legislation.
Peter Charlton, who is campaigning with his neighbours, Mike Terry, Andrew Brizell, John Cooper and Roy Baverstock, said the group was appalled that “nothing had changed.”
He added: “This appears to have been rhetoric to win votes. This could happen anywhere in Birmingham and we want to raise awareness that this is still going on
“We have written to the Government, to the local authority and to our local MP and local councillors, but nobody has been able to give us any answers.
“We feel like we have been misled and you are going to get some angry voters. The developers have bought the house from the family of an elderly gentleman, who died.
“They have also bought up half the back gardens of neighbouring properties. They plan to build five executive homes in the back garden.
“We know they have been talking to council planners since the start of this year, but when the application is lodged we will only have a few weeks to oppose the plans. It’s a sham.”
Sutton Coldfield’s Conservative MP and cabinet member Andrew Mitchell said: “I have been in regular contact with my constituents on this matter and will continue to help in any way I can once a planning application has been filed.
“In June the Government amended Planning Policy statement 3 to exclude private residential gardens from the definition of brownfield land and scrapped the national indicative minimum density target of 30 dwellings per hectare.
“These powers are now available to every local authority in the country. It means Birmingham City Council can now decide the status of gardens as they see fit.”