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Green Belt bites back


The battle to stop a Birmingham land-grab across our borders into the Green Belt could be boosted by the initiative of the district councillor for Barnt Green and Hopwood.

Coun Charlie Hotham, whose ward would be in the firing line of new homes spilling out of the city, is urging the leadership at Bromsgrove to turn the tables on Birmingham.

Under current “duty to co-operate” rules, it is feared Birmingham will be able to ask Bromsgrove to take 2,000 of its new homes target.

These would inevitably be on Green Belt land because the district says it is going to have to allow homes on virgin land just to meet its own target.

Coun Hotham has tabled a question to Bromsgrove’s full council pointing out that Birmingham has a reported 5,000 empty homes and is refusing to contemplate 1,000 new homes on the redundant North Worcestershire Golf Club site at Longbridge.

He adds: “Bromsgrove District Council has a housing shortfall that could be met by a judicious use of these wasted housing assets, without using Green Belt land.

“When will the leader be asking Birmingham City Council to fulfil its obligation in its duty to co-operate and find space for our overspill housing?”

The Bromsgrove meeting was taking place as The Village went to press.

The district council is currently blocking plans for 335 new homes and a village hall on the former MG Rover site at Cofton Hackett amid fears that it could entail further homes being built on Bromsgrove Green Belt.

The Longbridge Area Action Plan (LAAP) says 700 homes should be built on the former East Works site – in Bromsgrove, but counting towards Birmingham’s homes target.

The latest application for 335 would mean only 605 homes will be built there.

Coun Hotham told The Village: “That means they are 95 homes short. Birmingham will invoke the duty to co-operate, so the 95 will land on the Bromsgrove Green Belt.”

There is also a dispute over the developer’s financial contribution for the latest applications, with all £395,000 going to the Lickey Hills, owned and operated by Birmingham City Council.

Coun Hotham said: “The LAAP says money should be available to improve the A441 in Hopwood, where a zebra crossing is desperately needed.”

* Coun Hotham is standing as an independent candidate for the Alve-church Division of Worcestershire County Council in the local elections on May 4.

He is up against the sitting Tory councillor June Griffiths, Green candidate Peter Harvey, Sandra Docker for the Lib Dems and James Goad for UKIP.

Other Village area divisions up for election on May 4 include Beacon, covering Lickey, Barnt Green and Cofton Hackett, where the sitting councillor is Labour’s Peter McDonald.

Hoping to unseat him are Jill Harvey for the Greens, Conservative Richard Deeming, and Diana Ball for the Lib Dems.

The other division in our area is Bromsgrove East, covering Blackwell, The Oakalls and Parklands, Finstall, Tutnall and Aston Fields, where Kit Taylor, for the Tories, is up against Janet King for the Lib Dems, Rory Shannon for Labour, and Stan Baker for the Greens.