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SOLIHULL: Hearings for 15,000 home blueprint

SOLIHULL: Hearings for 15,000 home blueprint

Images from Solihull\'s Draft Local Plan

Controversial plans for 15,000 homes in Solihull will be discussed by big-name developers and community champions next week – but Covid fears mean attendance will be restricted.

Planning inspectors are to begin their in-depth interrogation of the council’s key blueprint for future development over the next 15 years.

As we revealed over the summer, the Draft Local Plan will be subject to some six weeks of scrutiny – spread between now and December – before the officials make the case for any changes.

Their recommendations will help finalise the bundle of papers which have been taking shape for over five years.

Now more detailed timetables, revealing who is set to speak during the first of a series of heated exchanges, have been published.

A “who’s who” of major developers will be arguing their case for certain sites and strategies, with St Modwen, Redrow and Barratt David Wilson among those sending representatives in just the first few days.

Also expect interventions from Summix, the London property firm which recently announced it would be making a pitch to build a 1,800-home “garden village” near Earlswood Station.

Community groups including Knowle, Dorridge and Bentley Heath Neighbourhood Forum and Berkswell Parish Council will also take their chance to outline community concerns.

While the CPRE Warwickshire – among the most vociferous critics of the impact on green belt land – and Green Party housing spokesman Max McLoughlin are also listed for the opening day on Monday (September 27).

As authors of the plan, Solihull Council is set to speak at each and every session and will be seeking to justify its decisions and policies.

In addition a number of other councils, including Birmingham, Sandwell and South Staffordshire, are down to have their say in hearings early next month.

They are likely to offer their take on whether they think Solihull’s proposals go far enough in helping meet the wider housing shortage across the whole West Midlands region.

Detailed schedules have yet to be published for those sessions which will be looking at individual housing sites in more detail.

These discussions are expected to begin in earnest at the November 8 hearing, starting with a focus on the  Balsall Common area.

When the public inquiry dates were first announced over the summer, it was confirmed that sessions would alternate between those taking place “in-person” at Solihull Civic Suite and online-only hearings.

Although the council has confirmed that no members-of-the-public will be able to sit in the chamber just to “observe”, amid concerns about high turn-out in an area still clocking 100s of Covid cases a week.

A spokeswoman confirmed that the face-to-face sessions were instead due to be streamed via Solihull Council’s YouTube channel – to allow residents to watch remotely.

The full timetable for the first set of hearings is now available to view online, with further updates  on future sessions expected closer to the start dates.

Words: David Irwin, Local Democracy Reporter


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