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Belt ‘not sacrosanct’

Posted on April 30 2018 at 10:38:04

Villagers hoping for reassurance that the suggestion of a new town between Alvechurch and Barnt Green was a non-starter were left deflated when Bromsgrove’s strategic planning chief told them the Green Belt was not sacrosanct.

Residents lined up to have their say on the recent GL Hearn report, Greater Birmingham Housing Market Area Strategic Growth Study, at the Annual Assembly held by Lickey & Blackwell Parish Council.

Strategic Planning and Conservation Manager Mike Dunphy addressed the meeting about Bromsgrove’s long-term housing needs.

After Keith Woolford, of Lickey Community Group, and parish councillor Janet King said that MP Sajid Javid and Prime Minister Theresa May had declared the Green Belt to be sacrosanct, Mr Dunphy said this had never been the case.

“Theresa May can say what she wants – I am telling you what national policy says,” he said.

Mr Dunphy said of the Hearn study: “It’s a piece of evidence that has been produced. Whether we’ll go with it or not I don’t know.

“It’s not enough in itself – we have to test its veracity, and the evidence may or may not say it’s a good idea.”

Coun Stephen Nock asked: “Do you feel it’s a coincidence that St Modwen has bought a large chunk of land in the Green Belt even before Bromsgrove has carried out its own Green Belt review? Is it at their risk or have they talked to the council?”

Mr Dunphy replied that St Modwen could take whatever risks they liked: “It’s what developers do.”

He added: “All I can say is that any plans will go through consultation before going to Government.”

The Hearn study also sparked heated debate at the Alvechurch Annual Parish Meeting where district and county councillor Charlie Hotham asked why the report was being given any credence by district planners.

“It is just colours on a map; why is that going out to consultation? I could do a plan like that with crayons.

“The people who have written this report, they are developers – they are the people that developers go to to get developments through.”

Coun Hotham added: “It should be put to one side. We can do our own Green Belt review, then when we have done that we can come back to look at how we may help Birmingham.”

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