Campaigners claim developers are circling Lichfield’s greenbelt land

The site of aproposed housing developmentin Streethay

The site of a proposed housing development in Streethay

Campaigners have claimed that the approval for Lichfield District Council’s Local Development Plan will spark a rush from developers eager to get their hands on the city’s greenbelt land.

The claim comes from David Woods, the chairman of Lichfield District Residents Alliance.

Mr Woods believes that developers are already putting in the groundwork ahead of the report being approved. He explained:

“Developers outline plans for major development on greenbelt land in the South Lichfield are already in circulation and they are conducting traffic surveys in the area. This gives people the impression that they are confident that the Council will press on regardless of the outcome of the public consultation.

“Judging by recent activity it looks as though developers will rush to build on greenfield and greenbelt land as soon as the District Council’s Local Development Plan is approved.”

The Alliance is opposed to the proposed scale of development in Lichfield District as they believe it is based on externally imposed targets and not on an investigation of real needs.

Campaigners have criticised plans for new housing development across Lichfield district, including Burntwood and Streethay.

Mr Woods added:

“Planners have concentrated on finding land to meet the Regional Assembly imposed target of 8,000 new houses in the period 2006-2026 when they should have been looking at the real housing needs and the land capacity to meet them. We maintain that this is much lower than the imposed target and should be accommodated without the need to build on greenfield or greenbelt land.

‘The Regional Spatial Strategy is seriously flawed since it should have directed more of the housing development to the major urban centres where there is a vast amount of derelict and brownfield land that needs redevelopment.’ says David. ‘Unfortunately, we were not aware that it was subject to examination by a government appointed Inspector and couldn’t make our views known in time.’

Lichfield District Council is due to publish its Core Strategy and Local Development Framework for consultation later this year following which it will be examined by a government appointed Inspector before approval is given.

But Mr Woods admitted that the Alliance campaigners were ready to battle the plans every step of the way. He said:

“We believe that the District Council’s proposals will be unsound and are preparing evidence to this effect for submission during the consultation period. This evidence will be forwarded to the Inspector for consideration.”

Lichfield District Council responded to the Alliance’s stance by admitting that they would continue to fight over-development, but admitted that  much of the decision-making was out of their hands.

Councillor David Smith

Councillor David Smith

Council Leader David Smith explained:

“As  councillors we are as passionate about protecting the district from unnecessary development as anyone else. Most people don’t realise it, but local councils, like Lichfield District Council, are not in direct control of the numbers of houses that will be built in the district over the coming years. These are set by Government through the Regional Spatial Strategy, which states all local development frameworks must conform to its principles, policies and proposals.

“That said, we haven’t just sat back and accepted the numbers we were initially told we  needed to accommodate. In 2007 it was suggested that as many as 16,000 new homes could be needed up to 2026, so we lobbied hard and, as a result, the numbers were cut by 50 per cent to 8,000. This is a reduction when compared to the level of house building we’ve seen over the last ten years. As a council we will continue to lobby for sustainable housing levels on behalf of the district and fight against any increases in houses numbers.

“We will also do what we can to make sure that any new homes are built in the best possible locations, which we will achieve through our new local development framework, and with the help of local people who have commented as part of our ‘I Love Lichfield District’ consultation.

“I would urge anyone who feels passionately about the housing levels set for the district to find out more about the Regional Spatial Strategy, and take part in any future consultations. More details can be found at www.gos.gov.uk/gowm.”

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Founder of LichfieldLive and editor of the site.

5 Comments

  1. Unconcerned Citizen

    5th October, 2009 at 10:59 am

    For a change i am suprised to find i agree with Cuncillor ‘Bob the Builder’ Smith.
    Taking part in consultations and indeed other political process where we have an input is something i think the public fail to do enough of.

    World populations are expected to grow for the next 100 years until we reach a supply and demand problem with food so unfortunatly developing green belt land will be a necessary evil at some point.
    More efforts should be made to make use of empty dwellings to reduce uneccessary development where possible.

    Building Houses on previously used industrial sites is not a smart move.
    The birth defects in Corby linked to contaminated land is a good enough reason.
    There is little point in building houses on industrial sites only to build industrial sites on greenbelt at a later date.

    Mr Woods Alliance needs to accept that the Regional Assembly are aware of the housing shortage and in actuality we do have a lot of unused land in this area.
    Homezones 4 year waiting list is testament to the housing shortage we have.

    Nobody wants to see all our green spaces developed but shelter is pretty high upon most peoples list of priorities.

  2. Alice

    8th October, 2009 at 2:31 pm

    Unconcerned Citizen probably lives in a comfortable world of his/her own. David Smith has at last seen the dangers in the development path he and his adventurous lackeys have followed. The mixture of unconcern, indifference and complacency, mixed with political grandiosement is a recipe for failure and disaster.

    Will Lichfield at long last get what it pays for now the alarm bells have been heard?
    Many groups and individuals have been prophesying that this would happen.
    The latest report from the Regional Assembly has proposed a massive amount of housing. We have Councillors on the Regional Assembly who apparently had no idea of what the recent report was to suggest. Mandarins, not holders of public office, are leading us down this road.

    There are none so deaf as those who, for whatever reason, do not wish to hear.

  3. Unconcerned Citizen

    8th October, 2009 at 9:08 pm

    Where are you from Alice? . . . . Wonderland?
    I live in Lichfield where there is a 4 year waiting list at homezone and the average house costs #205,637. (UK house prices: Apr-Jun 2009 according to the Land Registry of England and Wales).
    Having to Rent my house and supplying somebody else with a free pension – when i can’t afford my own (pension or house) is the Un-Comfortable world i live in.
    High costs of housing/accomadation reduces dispolsable income and adds towards the recession we are in.

    Im the Uncomfortable Unconcerned Citizen.

    Face Facts – there is a housing shortage, house prices are inflated due to the shortage, it is stiffling the economy and so a lot of new houses are going to be built – thus creating lots of jobs, cash etc etc.Theres a gap in the market and its going to be filled.
    Mr Wood and his friends properties will probably go down in value due to the supply/demand problem being corrected.
    They don’t seem to have genuine environmental concerns do they? i suspect its all about the money and perhaps losing a nice view.

    Of course some may have genuine concerns about green belt land but im sorry to say that we need roofs over our heads. Where do you suggest building these houses that lichfilelds young adults need? The lake district or scottich highlands?

    I’m all for common sense planning but im not going to defend local housing market protectionism.

    Mr Woods seems to think that housing needs are much lower than the imposed targets.
    Perhaps he could expand upon why he thinks the ‘real housing needs’ are much lower than the imposed targets?
    These figures are the entire basis of his argument – so how does he arrive at his estimates and what are they?

    Greatly inflated housing prices says it all – Mr Woods is living in a Dream world.

  4. Alice

    11th October, 2009 at 6:25 pm

    Wonderland – yes, that’s where I am and very fortunate so to be. Having struggled as one of 4 children back in the 30s and 40s, with a father crippled from the First World War, without to-day’s benefit system, a home at all at times was difficult. So I readily resist patronisation because I actually know the system from the inside as well, if not better, than you.

    All 4 children did reasonably well and purchased their own homes. Do I feel bad about that? NO.
    Do I feel bad about protecting the environment and our heritage: NO.
    Do I want proper and reasonable housing for all, whether they are able, poor or disadvantaged? YES
    Do I feel that it is possible to achieve this without penalising others and destroying our natural environment? YES.
    Do we all have a responsibility to strike the right balance, rather than posture our impecuniosity as a reason for destroying our heritage? YES
    Am I willing to continue to financially support others who are less fortunate in these difficult times? YES, so long as we strike the right balance.

    Contrary to what you say, we are not in a dream world, it just appears that you have a biased and prejudiced view of the realities. Do I feel sorry for that? NO, we have all had our opportunities.

  5. Unconcerned Citizen

    11th October, 2009 at 9:30 pm

    Well i think we agree that the developments should be at the right levels.

    Interestingly – only on thursday, a family member of one of the alliance members conversed with me regarding this topic.
    I proffered that we need to build ‘some houses’ -after all, the shortage is undisputable.
    However – i was then put right in my place – after all, a lowly oik like me wouldn’t understand what its like if you bought a house with a view of a field – which this development is threatening.

    Is the heritage you are concerned with being our shortage of houses that we should pass on to our children? (i dont really expect an answer to that – and a mere mention of the cathedral will make me respect your authority)

    I have to point out that there are good reasons why our cities expand around its edges (such as in the fields at the edge of street hay or burntwood – just like when the Nimbys houses were built – why stop now? )
    We expand our sewerage, electrical, water and road systems using less labour and materials – of course there are many other reasons just as sensible.

    Funny you talk about ‘opportunities’ – this planning issue is one of them – cheaper housing for me – or a retained high price for the Nimbys.
    We’ve all got an adgenda – we may as well be honest about it. I think more houses will improve my (and others) quality of life greatly.

    But ok – lets get down to brass tacks – exactly what are the Alliances ‘correct figures’ for development and how did they calculate them?