Seems a really stupid way of losing support for HS2. I Havant posted the poorly researched Telegraph piece on the household projections as the trend has been slightly downwards since the 2008 based projections because of the recession and the 2010 based figures, if the leak without any historical context, is right, show the same. Hmm a thought Meriden is Caroline Spellman’s constituency.
Up to 100,000 homes would be built on green belt in the Midlands near the controversial High Speed 2 rail route as part of a dramatic expansion of housing.
The plan, disclosed by Andrew McNaughton, the chief engineer of HS2, would exploit the new and highly controversial National Planning Policy Framework, which aims to simplify Britain’s planning laws, increase economic growth and provide homes for Britain’s booming population.
If it goes ahead, the development would effectively obliterate the open countryside east of Birmingham to create Britain’s longest continuous conurbation, stretching 40 miles from Coventry to the far side of Wolverhampton.
The planning framework will be published on Tuesday by ministers who want a new age of “pro-growth” planning. It was described by one Whitehall source last night as “the most radical business deregulation there has ever been”.
London itself would have a “second Docklands” development in the west of the city, said Prof McNaughton.
Last week David Cameron said he wanted to see a series of new “garden cities”, together with increased airport capacity. He warned: “We urgently need to find places where we’re prepared to allow significant new growth to happen.”
A senior Downing Street source said last night that while the new planning framework will give “assurances” to people concerned about the future of the countryside, it was “wrong to talk of any concessions”. The plan has faced a wave of protest from organisations including the National Trust and the Campaign to Protect Rural England, but the source said: “This remains an unashamedly pro-growth document. It is still the most radical business deregulation there has ever been.”
However, the source added: “These reforms were never intended to allow the concreting over of the countryside. This is about reforming Britain’s planning system, which costs our economy £3 billion a year. There will be protection for the green belt and areas of outstanding natural beauty, along with a clear commitment to sustainable development.”
Details of the proposed new city close to the HS2 rail link were revealed in a speech in Derby by Prof McNaughton, who is the chief engineer of the company set up by the Government to force through the high-speed link from London to Birmingham.
A Whitehall source confirmed that the proposed new city close to HS2 was a “strong contender” for substantial development as it would be “extremely central and well-connected”. The development could be 20 times the size of the abortive “eco-towns” considered by Gordon Brown, the former Labour prime minister, and axed by the Coalition.
Prof McNaughton, who holds posts at Imperial College, London, and Nottingham University, also raised the prospect of a major expansion to Birmingham Airport, which could be rebranded “London Birmingham” because the travel time to the capital using the high-speed link would be shorter than the time taken to travel from London to Stansted.
The airport, currently with a single runway, stands close to the site of the Forest of Arden, the setting of Shakespeare’s As You Like It. Prof McNaughton also said the HS2 would create a “second Docklands” in a densely populated area of west London.
The proposal for building between Birmingham and Coventry, in an area known as the Meriden Gap, attracted immediate strong opposition.
John Hutton, the leader of Coventry City Council, said: “We were a city before Birmingham was even thought of.
“If anyone thinks Coventry will be absorbed into a Greater Birmingham conurbation and take it lying down, they had better read up on our history.
“This was exactly the reason we voted against HS2, because we thought it would take all the inward investment out of Coventry.” Joe Rukin, the coordinator of the Stop HS2 campaign, said: “We have always suspected that HS2 is really a developers’ charter.
“We have been saying for almost two years that if HS2 goes ahead, that would mean the complete destruction of the green belt which separates Birmingham and Coventry.”
It is a really stupid idea that shouldn’t even pass first base, which it did not in 2007 when NLP proposed a 13,000 new settlement here in a report for government – without it must be said any clear justification. Solihull had two small new villages in the 1970 (Cheswick Green) and 1980s-current (Dickens Heath) – both less than 2% of this proposal. Dickens Heath isnt finished yet as the development has slowed to a trickle with the recession. A scheme of this size would be a poor idea because:
1) the Meriden Gap Green Belt between Coventry and Brum is one of the most sensitive and supported. For once literally is appropriate for literally it is the heart of England.
2) It comprises part of the Forest of Arden, a very beautiful area full of ancient tress and woodland which inspired Shakespere
3) Addition of an extra stop on HS2 would undermine the business case, it is supposed to be a city centre to city centre service not a commuter one. It wasn’t even economical to serve Coventry with HS2.
4) its too close to Brum. There were arguments in the 196os about whether Redditch and Telford were too close. Redditch for example was deliberately planned with poor trains services to Brum to discourage commuting – of course residents lobbyed for it. So all it would do is suck investment from inner city Brum.
5) There are vastly better sites for a Garden City in the West Midlands, on commuter lines farther from the conurbation, Rugby has a massive proposal in its core strategy (with HS2 this would become in effect a commuter line), there are big brownfield sites (former quarries) on the Chiltern line, There are brownfield air and army bases witgh long term uncertain futures.
6) It would clog up the M6, M42, M69, M1 , M40 and M5. Indeed in terms of degrading the national function of the Motorway network it would be harder to concoct a stupider site.
This is the kind of silly New Town idea you get proposed by engineers or developers divorced from any kind of regional planning process.
What this also shows is that assurances that the Green Belt is unaffected by the #NPPF are shallow as the general policy of the #NPPF that growth can overide other considerations and the injection to read it as a hole will be used to push Green Belts developments, especially where they are riding on the back of projects in the national infrastructure plan.