Can you believe the cheek of Birmingham? Our big city neighbour wants to use our green fields for housing, while keeping its open spaces free for the good of its citizens.
Local authorities currently have a duty to co-operate across borders where one of them cannot provide sufficient building land to meet its new homes allocation, set by central Government.
With the country stumbling further into a housing crisis, this is not a bad thing; we need to find ways to get more homes built.
But the intention was not to allow a large urban authority to cling on to its green spaces, while invoking the duty to co-operate to enable it to spill over its border into our Green Belt, itself designed to prevent such a thing happening.
So Birmingham is taking the mickey when it chooses not to include a site with room for 1,000 homes in its Development Plan, which details its proposals for housing in the city up to 2031.
A developer has drawn up advanced plans for the site, the former North Worcestershire Golf Club, at Longbridge, and the club has closed down, in anticipation of the homes being built.
Yet the head of Birmingham planning has said of the site: “Development on open space is contrary to national and local planning policies and this is not a site being promoted as necessary to meet our housing need.”
At the same time, it is believed Birmingham would like to see up to 2,000 homes built on the Green Belt of Bromsgrove – inevitably close to the border and near our villages – to help it towards its housing target.
If this is allowed to happen it will not be long before our villages will coalesce into Birmingham, as did those villages of North Field, Kings Norton, West Heath and Long Bridge before them.
We applaud the ingenuity of Charlie Hotham, district councillor for Barnt Green and Hopwood – and candidate for the Alvechurch seat on Worcestershire County Council on May 4 – in proposing an initiative to the full Bromsgrove District Council meeting that turns the tables on Birmingham.
He suggests that as Birmingham is reported to have 5,000 empty homes, as well as room for 1,000 more on the redundant golf course, Bromsgrove’s leadership should exercise the duty to co-operate and ask Birmingham to accommodate the extra homes Bromsgrove needs to meet its target on the city’s spare land so that it doesn’t have to build on the Green Belt.
It makes perfect sense to us.