SOLIHULL: Battle against threat to countryside
Campaigners in Solihull are fighting back against plans to “dump a load of concrete” on local countryside and pave the way for a 1,800-home settlement.
At the weekend those who have vowed to resist proposals for a major new “garden village”, near Earlswood Station, set up a warchest to fund a planning expert to argue their case.
The Tidbury Green Development and Flooding Action Fund is already almost two thirds of the way towards their £1,500 target.
Their intervention comes after more than 1,000 objectors have signed a petition against the sprawling scheme, christened Fulford Green, which had first come to light last month.
Summix, the London-based housebuilder behind the concept, argues the location could be an ideal place to create a modern, green community.
Announcing the effort, Cllr Mark Reohorn, from Tidbury Green Parish Council, had suggested that the proposals posed a threat to what remains of “our green and pleasant land.”
“Summix is proposing to dump a load of concrete and turn it into an eco-friendly village with 1,800 houses – which we do not need.
“Because we have satisfied – or Solihull have satisfied – the housing demand in the Local Plan with these two wonderful developments in Tidbury Green anyway.
“But of course this is cheap agricultural land and they make more margin than if they were developing brownfield sites.”
He said it was down to the local community to mobilise and “call out” the attempt to lay claim to the fields.
The group’s crowdfunding page spells out fears about overdevelopment causing diferent villages to effectively merge together and the danger that drainage issues in the area could be made worse.
“The impact of the build period alone could be severe: How will the small lanes cope with all the Heavy Goods Vehicles and machinery required for construction?”
The Change.org petition, launched by Cllr Ken Hawkins, a Blythe ward councillor, had also railed against the recently announced proposals.
Kim Peckover, among the signatories, said: “As a resident within this community, I am devastated at the loss of green areas that provide clean air and natural habitats.
“Having moved here several years ago for the semi rural aspects, I now feel my choices and our hard work to provide the home we worked hard to get is being taken from us.”
While fellow supporter Linda Carroll said that the landscape needed to be retained “for future generations to enjoy.”
“Just look at the state of the planet and with the current climate changes, we need to stop building on our green belt. We need trees and plants and not more houses.
“If you do need further housing, look at rejuvenating derelict sites.”
Speaking recently to the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS), Cllr Hawkins said there had been no formal consultation and made the point that this site didn’t feature in the council’s Draft Local Plan – a blueprint for the next 15 years of house-building.
This part of the borough has already been earmarked for a number of new estates in the local authority’s official document.
Should another development, on the scale of nearby Dickens Heath, be thrown into the mix then it would stoke further controversy.
“It’s just not acceptable,” said Cllr Hawkins, of the Summix proposal.
“In my personal view the developers are playing a long game and they are looking to promote this for five or 10 years’ time.
“But there’s a lot of people who see [the plan] and think it’s going to happen.”
It’s understood that the property firm will be making the case for the scheme when the public inquiry into the Draft Local Plan starts towards the end of the month.
A Summix spokesman recently said the area offered the potential to “create an exemplary and sustainable new development” but indicated that its ambitions were at a preliminary stage.
“Over the coming months Summix will be developing its vision for Fulford Green.
“The site does not benefit from any planning status and there are no plans to submit a formal planning application at this very early stage.”
The first of the public hearings to consider the Draft Local Plan is due to take place at the Civic Suite, in Solihull town centre, on Monday, September 26.
The Change.org petition is available at – https://tinyurl.com/6szcc92e
Words: David Irwin, Local Democracy Reporter
Watch the channel on TV