If you think Brexit is a never-ending nightmare, then a foray into town planning might just tip you over the edge. By the time a local plan is adopted, it is already out of date and, in any case, they’ve been working on the next one for the past two years or more anyway.
You may, then, be relieved that the public aren’t often asked to get involved – even though the decisions that are made now on your behalf will affect you, your children and your children’s children for many years to come.
There has been a mood swing over the past decade at the planning authority that covers the whole of the Village area. The ruling councillors and the officers at Bromsgrove, once staunch defenders of the Green Belt, now seem to have bought into the idea that it needs to be built upon and they are looking at places where they can allow this to happen.
We don’t know who is leading whom at the council on this; we are told it is what central Government is demanding, yet the Government repeatedly says the Green Belt is sacrosanct and that so-called “brownfield land” in urban areas should be built on first.
We believe the housebuilding industry is behind the move to build on “easy” and very profitable sites in the Green Belt rather than difficult and not-so profitable sites in urban areas – and that too little is being done to push back against their very powerful lobbying.
When the so-called “Barntchurch” report came out earlier this year, officers told us it was just a “desktop” study, yet they had to consider it as a “thorough evidence base”. To us it looked like a softening-up exercise in the race to bulldoze the Green Belt so housebuilders can rake in vast profits.
This may leave you unmoved; perhaps you want to see 15,000 homes or more built on the fields between Alvechurch and Barnt Green, as well as across other swathes of the Green Belt around our area.
But if it leaves you feeling just a little bit cross, there is a chance, of sorts, to have your say over the next couple of weeks. The obliquely named “Issues and Options” public consultation on the Bromsgrove development plan wants to hear from you.
While it may seem to some to be a “box-ticking” exercise by Bromsgrove, you can at least register your views of how you (yes, you, not the housebuilders) would like the area to look in the future.
As our Editor discovered (see page 16 for her guide) it requires some persistence – and it could be argued that a large number of people without the computer skills or equipment have been denied the chance to have their say – but for those of you who can, don’t miss this chance to stamp your foot and be heard.