Solihull under Pressure to meet more of Brum and Coventry needs

Birmingham Live

Solihull is facing renewed pressure to find space for thousands more homes to help meet the region’s wider housing needs.

The council has suggested it could accommodate 2,000 units to help ease demand in other parts of the Midlands, on top of the 13,000 or so earmarked for Solihull’s own needs.

However, both developers and other local authorities have suggested this figure is “too low” and want to see the borough – two thirds of which is green belt –  make a greater contribution.

In fact responses from developers, submitted as part of a recent consultation, suggest Solihull should in fact provide between 4,000 and 6,500 properties towards the region-wide shortfall.

By contrast, many residents argue that opportunities to expand are “limited” and believe neighbouring councils, such as Birmingham, should “do more” to clear brownfield sites in their own area.

The flood of responses was submitted to Solihull Council after it published its Draft Local Plan – a blueprint for development over the next 15 years.

A huge gulf between the views of local people and others who have had their say demonstrates the difficulties facing the council as it looks to take the document forward.

Hinting that there could be conflict with other councils over how many houses Solihull should provide to ease the burden elsewhere, senior councillors had suggested earlier this year that other issues should be taken into account.

In particular Solihull’s ruling Conservative group believes that the amount of green belt which will be lost as part of the HS2 development should not be glossed over when doing the relevant sums.

A summary of comments received about the Draft Local Plan also highlights the extent of opposition to allowing development on certain pieces of land.

Solihull has a sizeable amount of green belt land.   Windmill Lane, in Balsall Common, and land west of Dickens Heath are among the proposed housing sites to have received more than 100 objections. Officers have said that they cannot respond in details to the comments received at this stage, but the views expressed will feed into the next draft of the document. The overview of the responses will be presented to Cllr Andy Mackiewicz, cabinet member for climate change, planning and housing, this Thursday (July 18).

Why Reigate and Bansted need to be Starting on their Local Plan Review Now

Reigate and Bansted have concluded they don’t need to review their core startegy now they have a brand new DMP.  Their core strategy policy CS13 requires allocation of 460 units a year 2012-2027.  They have exceeded this level so far.  The standard method requires almost no change.

Their report though doesnt refer to the minimum life span of 10 year of housing supply in the NPPF.  Which leaves three years till the housing supply of the plan runs out in 2022.  2 years (assume they propose to review again the need for review in 2020) is hardly enough time for review of a local plan.   They have benefited from windfall releases of brownfield Green Belt sites which is an exuastable supply.   They should start reviewing now

Electric Vehicle Charging points to be Made Compulsory – but at £16k a time it will kill Affordable Apartments


We are proposals to alter existing:

  • residential
  • non-residential

buildings regulations to include a requirement for electric vehicle chargepoint infrastructure.

The government proposes every new residential building with an associated car parking space to have a chargepoint. We propose this requirement applies to buildings undergoing a material change of use to create a dwelling.

Installing chargepoints in residential buildings will add an additional cost ofapproximately £976 per car parking space for an average home.

This is not correct.  If you are installing a chargpoint in af ront wall next to a parking space the cost for the socket is £45.   If you have flats where anyone can plug in (to avoid electricity rsutling) the cost of a digital charging pole is 14-16 thousand.  This will likely kill off affordable apartments and build to rent.  As of yet there is no technical solution to this at an affordable price.  The sensible thing to do is integrate them with lampost however until we have an affordable solution the cost will still fall on purchasers through being rolled into adoption charges.

The consultation does not even acknowledge this problem, though it suggests setting an upper limit of cost per dwellings it does not state what this is.

The impact assessment doesnt even understand the difference in cost between a single socket which can be secured with a key and dedicated infrastructure for apartments.



The Emergence of ‘Soft’ Strategic Planning

Soft planning is a new style of planning, nothing to do with its statutory status or otherwise.  We have non statutory strategic plans in places like Leicestershire and Surrey and emerging statutory plans with a ‘soft’ stage in places like Oxfordshire., Northamptonshire (next month) and Greater Exteter.  What all of these have in common is absolutely no sharp edges of housing numbers assigned to locations which might hurt a Nimby or upset a local politician.  They are easy to agree as there is no need to set up a structure to make hard choices that cannot be agreed through unanimity.  If you get housing numbers at all it is in an appendix stating need as a fact with a comment that this does not imply distribution. You might get a diagram showing growth locations, but only in the non statutory forms to get around SEA requirements.

Are they useful.  Certainly more so than no strategic plan at all.  And some like Leicestershire are quite good.  They are harmless as a big soft ball and just as likely to break down the wall of opposition to real strategic plan of what goes where when.  Despite being soft they are not popular, as we see in Oxforshire where the results of the consultation (which had a very limited response as it was not consulting on place specific policy options) you found a general opposition to ‘growth’ with a large majority of respondents objecting to almost anything said.

Thats the problem with soft planning, it makes the pain of the big hard ball of housing numbers even more painful.  It simply engenders the public into thinking the planners and politicians are hiding something and discussing real options in secret – which they are of course.