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FINER DETAIL: Business park scheme approved

FINER DETAIL: Business park scheme approved

Image: LDRS

Fears clearing trees could leave bats homeless almost put the brakes on the latest phase of a major housing scheme in Solihull.

Council planners were this week asked to consider the finer detail of another 137 homes at The Green business park site, off Stratford Road.

The sprawling campus is sub-divided into different parcels of land, each in line for a new-build development.

These have been outlined in separate reports submitted over the past few years.

While the overall scheme has outline approval, these individual applications allow councillors to sign-off the look, layout and other more specific issues.

Although the latest proposals for Phases F and G of the project, which include the removal of trees, caused some concern at Wednesday night’s meeting.

Specifically several committee members were not convinced enough had been done to safeguard any local bat population; the night-flying mammals are protected by law and are said to live in surrounding vegetation.

Cllr Steve Caudwell (Green, Castle Bromwich) said: “I do not have the information in front of me this evening to be able to say with any certainty that there are not bats in those trees.

“We cannot go cutting down trees that have got bats in and then say ‘oh it will be all right because we’ll round it up at the end of the development’.

“So until I’m clear that there are no bats in those trees I’m not supporting this application. Simple as that.”

Cllr James Butler (Con, Blythe) also said the issue put “a slight spanner in the works” because there didn’t seem to be up-to-date surveys available.

While council officials argued many large trees were being retained, the proposals had nonetheless caused anxiety among some residents, with Solihull MP Julian Knight also flagging concerns.

Earlier in the evening local man Neill Jongman had asked the council to defer its decision, arguing the scheme needed to be considered as a whole rather than in smaller chunks.

“It seems like a century since plans were first put forward to build on what we know as The Green, a name that will be somewhat unfitting if Bellway’s plans go forward.”

Planning officers said papers did touch upon wildlife habitats and these documents had been considered by the council’s full-time ecologists.

Although the committee was apparently unpersuaded and an initial vote saw the plans refused by five votes to four.

But it was agreed a second vote should be held since the option of approval subject to a bat survey being carried out prior to any work starting had not been put to members.

Once this proviso was agreed all nine councillors agreed to give the proposal their backing.


Words: David Irwin, Local Democracy Reporter

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