Liichfield EIP – A land grab by your neighbours is inevitable

in 2013 the leader of Lichfield said in the application of the Duty to Cooperate it would not agree.

Tories warn neighbours ‘don’t try big brother tactics grabbing Lichfield District land for your houses’

NEIGHBOURING authorities eyeing up Lichfield district’s “green and pleasant land” have been warned off trying to grab it to fill their own tough housing quotas.

The Government has instructed councils to plan for thousands of homes over the next two decades – and space is at more of a premium than ever before.

This week, Lichfield District Council’s controlling Conservative group promised to resist at all costs any “big brother” land-grab attempts from outside the area.

The authority is already facing local calls from residents in Lichfield and Burntwood to scale down its expansion plans, despite the Government’s insistence the area needs at least 10,000 new homes built by 2028.

“Lichfield district has already accepted growth from Cannock and Tamworth, and the planning inspector has acknowledged how well we have co-operated with them on this matter,” said Councillor Ian Pritchard, portfolio holder for development.

“But as other neighbours like Birmingham and the Local Enterprise Partnership start to eye our open land for further development, they should be clear that they will have a fight on their hands.
On Friday the Lichfield inspectors report came out.  IUt was undound, the housing numbers were too low, but it was modificable. Most notable were his conclusions on the Brum overspill (policy MM1).
By the time of the resumed hearings it had been confirmed that there will be a shortfall in housing supply across the area covered by the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (the LEP) much of which will derive from Birmingham’s inability to meet its own needs for housing. It had also become apparent that the LEP Joint Housing Study and the LEP Strategic Spatial Plan will play an important role in determining how much housing growth individual authorities such as Lichfield will take in the future to help make up the shortfall. However,at the time of the resumed hearings work on these was not advanced enough to say with any certainty how much growth Lichfield would need to accommodate
The question was raised at the resumed hearings as to how MM1, which effectively defers consideration of how this shortfall will be dealt with to areview or partial review of the Plan, would work in practice or indeed  whether it would work. The point was made that these LEP documents will not be the subject of formal scrutiny or testing and that the Council will not be obliged to take the findings and policies of these documents into account. These points are undoubtedly true but that was the intention of the legislation which removed a regional planning system which involved the imposition on councils of housing numbers from above and replaced it with the duty to cooperate.
I would contrast this with the Brum inspectors report last month where the inspector conluded was the job of the 13 examinations in Greater Brum to test these and its accompanying SEA, and of course the new guidance last month that SHMA findings must be tested.
Moreover, there will be a strong incentive for the Council to review the Plan once the size of the shortfall and the manner in which it will be
distributed has been established. A failure to carry out such a review would conflict with MM1 and could be argued to render the housing
policies in the Plan out of date. The weight that could be given to these policies would, therefore, be greatly reduced and the Council would find it more difficult to rely on them when making decisions on applications forplanning permission.
If, on the other hand, the Council did carry out a review in accordance with MM1 it would be required to cooperate with the LEP and have regard to its relevant findings and policies. The question of whether or not it had discharged its duty to cooperate with the LEP would, of course, be tested at the examination into the soundness of the reviewed plan. It is in this context that statements reported in the press by a leading Lichfield councillor – the gist of which was that the Council would resist any land grab attempts from outside the area – need to be construed.
The Council and its neighbours are at the early stages of an ongoing and complex process and I do not seek to underestimate the procedural, technical and political challenges they will have to surmount. Nonetheless they have made a constructive start to tackling the cross boundary issue of how large the housing shortfall over the wider housing10 CD5-28. Duty to Cooperate Statement between Lichfield District Council and Birmingham City Council market area will be and how it
Now lets say the LEP study recommends that Lichfield must take some share.  South Staffs and other authorities too some of which are not part of teh LEP and have said they will reject its findings in advance.
The publication of the LEP plan and SHMA will render these plans out of date but without any agreed process, other than continued postering about land grabs and the rats in a sack meetings of council leaders, we have at the moment.  In other words strategic planning may be revicing, as was inevitable, but with the structures necessary to agree them completely knocked away.


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