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SOLIHULL HOUSING: Plans to build near Berkswell Windmill draws most objections

SOLIHULL HOUSING: Plans to build near Berkswell Windmill draws most objections

Image: LDRS

A plan to build more than 100 homes near one of Solihull’s most celebrated landmarks has drawn the most objections out of more than a dozen housing estates earmarked for green belt land.

Solihull Council has, for the first time, revealed a full breakdown of the comments it had received from more than 900 individuals and groups about its blueprint for some 15,000 new homes.

A detailed summary shows that a site at Windmill Lane, in the vicinity of Berkswell Windmill, has proven the most controversial – attracting more than 200 objections.

This was some way ahead of the second most unpopular, with land to the west of Dickens Heath drawing 148.

None of the 18 “allocated sites” listed received more support than opposition, although an area of land in Knowle split opinion the most.

The proposals for the “Arden triangle” site had 43 backers, not far behind the 54 objections.

Berkswell Windmill’s owner Jeanette McGarry said she was “delighted” by the response from the community and urged the local authority to take notice.

“We do hope  Solihull Council will listen to public opinion,” she said.

Rebecca Clare, among those to raise concerns, had warned that the housing plans would leave Balsall Common “unable to function.”

She said she was worried a major new development would lead to “the loss of natural habitat, the influx of traffic onto Windmill Lane and impact on facilities.”

There was also a notable backlash in the Shirley area, with land near Dickens Heath having previously been deemed particularly important greenbelt by countryside charity the CPRE.

Daisy Hopkins, among the objectors, said:  “Affordable housing is needed – not overpriced new-builds that won’t benefit first time buyers.

“Shirley is to take on 39 per cent of the new builds – more than its fair share and decimating the greenbelt that makes the area attractive.”

Last year’s public consultation was the final chance for public comments before the Draft Local Plan is submitted to an independent inspector.

Opposition parties had criticised the ruling Conservative group for not allowing more time for the exercise and also claimed that a Tory leaflet, canvassing opinions on future house-building, could have been confused with the council’s official consultation.

Some had even urged any responses, which appeared to mix-up the two processes, to be passed to council officers.

Although the Conservatives argued the flyer, circulated last autumn, was clearly marked as being from the party.

A Solihull Council spokesman said: “The next step in the process is the submission of the plan to the Secretary of State (via the Planning Inspectorate).

“Arrangements are currently being made for the representations to be reviewed before a decision is made to submit the plan.”

It has previously  been suggested that there would be no significant changes to the document at this stage – with alterations expected to be limited to minor tweaks to wording or the correction of errors.

This apparently shuts the door on any significant shift in the numbers allocated for each site or for areas to be taken off the table altogether.

The single biggest concession during the five-year process was the decision to drop plans to build a major housing scheme on land to the south of Shirley’s Woodlands estate, announced in early 2019.

In a major u-turn it was later confirmed the area  – recently christened Hope Coppice – would in fact be planted with hundreds of trees and intended as a memorial to families affected by Covid-19.

NOTES TO EDITORS:

Full document available at https://tinyurl.com/476ksbww

Breakdown of comments by site:

Barratts Farm, Balsall Common – 46 objections, four in support

Frog Lane, Balsall Common – 18 objections, none in support

Pheasant Oak Farm, Balsall Common – 15 objections, none in support

Trevallion Stud, Balsall Common – 22 objections, none in support

Lavender Hall Farm, Balsall Common – 10 objections, none in support

Windmill Lane, Balsall Common – 202 objections, one in support

West of Dickens Heaths – 148 objections, six in support

South of Dog Kennel Lane – 97 objections, four in support

Whitlocks End Lane – 42 objections, two in support

Meriden Road, Hampton-in-Arden – Nine objection, one in support

Oak Farm, Catherine de Barnes – 11 objections, one in support

School Road, Hockley Heath –  18 objections, four in support

Hampton Road, Knowle – 36 objections, four in support

Arden triangle, Knowle – 54 objections, 43 in support

West of Meriden – Six objections, two in support

North Solihull (inc Kingshurst Parade) – Four objections, none in support

East of Solihull – 41 objections, 29 in support

Moat Lane depot – 10 objections, 1 in support

Words: David Irwin, Local Democracy Reporter


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