Predictably, there are now around 300 sites, mostly in our Green Belt, jostling for the jackpot: an “APPROVED” stamp on an application to turn the fields they outline into yet another housing estate.
This is, of course, just a wishlist of would-be developers – but it has got us surrounded. Lickey End would merge into Catshill and Marlbrook to the north and west, while to the south of Lickey End, every piece of green land is shaded in all the way down the east side of the A38, washing over Bromsgrove golf course until it meets The Oakalls.
On the east side of the district, Alvechurch and Barnt Green would be joined at the shoulder and hip as houses flowed south and east towards the M42. Alvechurch village would more than double in size, filling all of the fields enclosed by the motorway and the Alvechurch Bypass, south down to Lye Meadow and then right across the southern edge of the village up to the railway station.
Redditch would continue its march north as the houses already going up at Brockhill and Weights Lane would continue right up to Cobb’s Barn roundabout, within sight of Alvechurch village.
Even more worrying is the prospect of Birmingham striding over its border, down the hill of Cofton Common and over the fields of Groveley Farm to the northern shore of Upper Bittell itself.
Anyone struggling to picture this should look at the green hills behind the reservoir in this photograph. Marauding cormorants would be the least of our worries if Birmingham came into view.
Equally so, if the fields from the bottom of Fiery Hill Road, opposite the Barnt Green Inn and all the way up to Cofton Church Lane, and beyond up to the reservoir in “old” Cofton fell to the bulldozer.
And there are more sites we could worry about on the list released by Bromsgrove District Council, such as the large field to the east of Twatling Road, running down to Pinfield Wood in the Lickey Hills.
But the one sight that is not evident after Bromsgrove’s “Call for Sites” is an outline of a large settlement, in a vague inverted “Y” shape, with room for 10-15,000 homes somewhere along the rail links between Alvechurch, Barnt Green and Blackwell.
Does this mean the planner’s pipe dream, the threat of “Barntchurch”, has receded for now? We always felt it was being used as a battering ram to soften us up so we would meekly accept what they really had in store for us.
And no matter how many times we are told that “no conclusions should be drawn at this stage”, we can’t help concluding that we are about to be over-run by greed.