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Sunday October 21 2018

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In Full . . .

THE VILLAGE VIEW

Posted on September 30 2018 at 2:28:11

Twenty years on from our first issue, and what is most noticeable from a brief look at our coverage then and now is the resounding success of the housebuilding industry and their lobbyists.

When it was proposed back then to take fields around Alvechurch and Barnt Green out of the Green Belt and call them ADRs or, more accurately, “future building sites”, there was uproar – led by our representatives in Bromsgrove and even at Westminster.

Our MP, Julie Kirkbride, a Conservative, told The Village in 1998 she wanted to see new homes built on brownfield sites and  described any use of the Green Belt as “the politics of capitulation”.

That capitulation is almost complete. The Conservatives taking decisions for us at Bromsgrove in 2018 seem hell-bent on giving up swathes of our Green Belt to housebuilders and when our current MP, also a Conservative, was asked about “Barntchurch”,  his first response, apparently, was amusement.

And all the while, the housebuilding companies are raking in vast amonts of money, with one chief executive even taking a bonus of £110 million.

There are a number of reasons why business is so profitable for them, but top of the list must be that, compared with building homes on brownfield sites, whacking them up on pristine, green fields in areas of high property values is much easier and makes much more money.

When coupled with the housing crisis created by incompetent, or calculating, Governments and their destruction of public sector housing, the housebuilding industry can even make it sound like they are doing us all a big favour.

If you want more houses, they say, we’re not going to build them on tricky brownfield sites in areas where our brick boxes won’t fetch a king’s ransom; what we’ll do is wait until you’re desperate, then find a report suggesting whole new towns in the rural Green Belt.

In their dreams, one of those “garden villages” might even get through if they have managed to sway public opinion far enough. If not, then with public resistance suitably softened, at least they can appear to compromise by just taking all the fields around our villages to build on (with the enormous strains that will place on existing infrastructure).

Thank goodness a small group of “ordinary” villagers took it upon themselves to start work six years ago on the Alvechurch Parish Neighbourhood Plan. Without them, the capitulation would be complete.

We wish all power to their elbow in standing firm against the inevitable onslaught, and hope other parishes preparing their own plans will be in time.


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