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Green Belt roll-back keeps Barntchurch on table

Posted on September 30 2019 at 3:17:08

The controversial GL Hearn study, which outlines the concept of a “garden town” in the Village area, is still on the table as Bromsgrove moves into the next stage of its District Plan.

The potential development, dubbed “Barntchurch”, could see 10–15,000 homes built between Alve-church and Barnt Green as housing pressure blows out from Birmingham.

At a press briefing to launch the next consultation stage of the District Plan, Head of Planning Ruth Bamford told The Village the council “can’t ignore” the report.

“The Hearn study is out there; it exists as a planning document, so it would be nonsense to do our plan and not give the public a chance to comment on that, and it will be considered by our inspector. We’re not embracing it, but we can’t ignore it.”

Council leader Karen May added, “We won’t work around Hearn, but we will make a sustainable plan and take residents on a journey with us.”

The council has also carried out the first stage of its Green Belt Review. Ms Bamford announced that building in the Green Belt was unavoidable, since Bromsgrove is required to build 6,500 new homes before 2040 – as well as taking Birmingham overspill.

“It’s a given that we’ll have to roll back the Green Belt – we are saying very clearly now that we are doing it. Bromsgrove, in fact 89 per cent of it, sits within the Green Belt, which is unusual in national terms.

“People get confused between Green Belt and green fields – these houses won’t necessarily be built in green fields, although they probably will be.”

Bromsgrove’s strategic planning chief Mike Dunphy added that the total equated to 379 new homes per year. “The housing market may change, but that number can only go up, not down. The vast majority will be on Green Belt – we don’t have any other land of any magnitude left.”

As well as a second public consultation, the council launches its “call for sites” on September 30 – this is when developers are invited to submit plans for specific areas.

Ms Bamford explained: “These will far exceed what we need, but will show interest that we can work with.”

* The council has published a document reporting on the “Issues and Options” public consultation that took place earlier this year, containing 3,500 responses to questions on the future of the district.

This figure counts each separate answer to the lengthy questionnaire as a single response, even if several came from one individual.

Just 68 residents actually took part, outnumbered by the 83 representations from landowners and their agents.

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