A campaign group in Burntwood has raised concerns over an ecological report which they claim could force new housing in the area to be build on green-belt land.
The Burntwood Action Group (BAG) aired their concerns at a recent meeting of Burntwood Town Council.
Following discussions with Lichfield District Council about the new housing plan for the area as part of the draft Core Strategy, land opposite the Morrison’s supermarket had been earmarked as a potential site to accomodate around 700 new homes.
But the group now says an ecological survey commissioned as part of the Local Development Framework has suggested the site may contain a species of “biological interest” – a fact which could mean the land cannot be used for housing.
And a BAG spokesman suggested that the report could lead to agricultural land being used for the new housing required to meet national targets – even though the owners of the original site have offered to relocate any species which are residing on the land.
Michael Bate told the meeting:
“In the last few weeks, we have learned that a draft ecological survey, which is a desktop document, prepared as part of Lichfield District Council’s Local Development Framework suggests that the brownfield site may now be unsuitable for new constructions as it may be a place of scientific interest. We are aware the land has been allowed to deteriorate in recent times and it is possible that certain spores and minor wildlife may have migrated from Chasewater across the Ring Road to the site and taken root.
“If these suggestions of site unsuitability are accepted this could mean that any interest in the land for the building of new homes on this brownfield site could be discontinued. These suggestions are of some disappointment to all concerned, not least to both Lichfield District Council and the owners LCP particularly as the site could account for over a third of the new homes planned for Burntwood and Hammerwich in the near future.
“Should the proposals for the LCP site now founder, Lichfield District Council may have little option but to return to their original proposals in their Core Strategy and revert to plans to build on green belt land adjacent to Highfield Road, Hospital Road and Norton Lane which would be a tragedy.
“LCP have even offered to re-locate any migrated flora and fauna back to Chasewater without harm at their own expense. Both LCP and Lichfield DC are commissioning their own physical eco-surveys the results of which are critical to our campaigns. One hopes the reports will available in time.”
The campaigners also called on local councillors to back their battle to protect green-belt land as the region looks for solutions to the demands for new housing in the area.
Mr Bate continued:
“As the current proposals for Burntwood and Hammerwich only require, on existing estimates, the construction of 38 new homes per year until 2026 we would urge Burntwood Town Council members to join with us and lend your support to ensure that such are built on brownfield sites only and that they resist any future proposals for any large housing developments proposed as alternatives for our area.
“Once we build on green belt land it can never be recovered and our boundaries, identities and individualities which set Burntwood and Hammerwich apart from its larger neighbours will be irretrievable. We owe it to future generations that our green belt land should not be sacrificed on any speculative whims formed by mere automatic responses unless and until there is specific evidence which requires a further reasonable basis for consideration and we look to Burntwood Council and its members to ensure this does not take place.”