Bromsgove Leader Admits to Talks to Take Brum Overspill in Green Belt

Bromsgrove Standard – read past the first para

BROMSGROVE Council leader, Coun Roger Hollingworth, has rubbished claims that the district would have to find space for 34,000 homes from Birmingham, because of the Localism Act’s duty to cooperate.

They were made by Coun Peter McDonald who said he had been given the information by one of the authority’s officers during a presentation on the town centre as part of an LDF (Local Development Framework) meeting at Bromsgrove Council House.

He said: “We could well see the boundary of Birmingham City extending to the M42 Island.

“Even if Bromsgrove agree to half the amount, it will see villages such as Rubery, Catshill and Marlbrook swallowed up by Birmingham.

“While Bromsgrove District has been refusing to release greenbelt land for much need housing for Bromsgove residents, it has been having secret talks to hand over acres of greenbelt land for Birmingham’s housing needs.”

He demanded Bromsgrove District Council made clear what was going on with regard to development from other areas.

But Coun Hollingworth said the Rubery councillor’s claims were well wide of the mark.

He told The Standard that with the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership, working with all the councils in the LEP area, more than 100,000 jobs were being created in the new Enterprise Zone.

And, because of that, 80,000 homes are needed in and around the Second City, with Birmingham only being able to find room for around 45,000.

And, whilst he admitted the other 35,000 would have to be built outside of Birmingham, that number would be shared by several areas as well as Bromsgrove, including Lichfield, Stratford and the Black Country.

“Before any of that happens, we will be carrying out a complete greenbelt review,” said Coun Hollingworth.

“Then, we will all sit down as a group of councils and we will look at what we can take home-wise.

“There will be no building in the greenbelt unless it is in very special circumstances.”

He said a lot of people in Bromsgrove were employed in Birmingham, which worked well, and, with the arrival of the new station, the transport links between the town and the Second City would be even better for commuters.

But, he added, as well as houses for commuters, there would still be job opportunities created locally.

They would include small business start-ups and opportunities on the Bromsgrove Technology Park and on other employment land, such as at Perryfields and in Stoke Prior


Boles Suggests we Build on 8-10% of Countryside

Inside Housing

Nick Boles today embroiled himself in renewed spat with countryside campaigners over the need to build homes on land green field sites.

 The planning minister locked horns with Shaun Spires, chief executive at the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England, stating its research showing there is enough brownfield land to build 1.5 million homes was ‘entirely untrue’.

Speaking in a fringe session of the Conservative Party conference in Manchester, Mr Boles said: ‘I am afraid Shaun’s figure is simply incorrect. It’s an old figure based on very bad research that is entirely untrue. There is not enough brownfield land to build all the homes we need.’

The minister, who has previously riled campaigners by arguing developers should be able to build on Greenfield sites, said there was a need to ‘move to a situation where we were just a little more relaxed about making land available’ for development – in some cases not just brownfield sites.

Mr Spires rejected criticisms of the research and told Inside Housing that the figures were robust, and came from a company called Green Balance, which does research for government departments.

‘I am very surprised to hear the minister say that,’ said Mr Spires. ‘If he had a problem with the research then he should have raised it much sooner. It was carried out by a very reputable organisation.’

The argument was triggered by a debate over whether or not there is a need to introduce a minimum space standard. There is currently a consultation underway by Mr Boles’ department to examine whether or not to introduce a national minimum space standard as part of a much larger review of housing standards.

Mr Boles appeared not to support a minimum space standard on the grounds it inhibits market forces, instead arguing that space was only a problem because land was so constrained.

The minister suggested this could be solved by building outside of brownfield sites.

‘We should not be surprised we build the smallest homes in Europe because we have the highest development land prices in Europe. And why do we have the highest development land prices anywhere in Europe? It’s because we allow so little land to be made available for development.

He added: ‘If we don’t provide enough land then we will go on building tiny houses that everybody hates. If we can provide a bit more land we will still have 90-92 per of the English countryside entirely without any development, and much happier families.’