A councillor says the strength of feeling among local residents on plans for new housing in Mile Oak and Fazeley are being ignored.
Cllr James Parton-Hughes had previously claimed Lichfield District Council was “defecating on Tamworth’s doorstep” by proposing to build 800 homes in the area.
He spoke up again about the proposals, which have been included in a draft Local Plan document outlining how more than 9,700 homes will need to be built in Lichfield and Burntwood over the next 20 years.
The Conservative representative for Fazeley ward told an overview and scrutiny committee meeting earlier this week that the local authority was failing to hear the concerns of those living in the area.
“We know there have been hundreds of objections on the Mile Oak site from residents, as well as opposition from Fazeley Town Council and Tamworth Borough Council, but it’s been completely ignored.
“There was a petition with over 1,000 signatures that should have triggered a debate at cabinet but this was dismissed due to the flaws in the process.
“Why did the council bother consulting if it was going to take no notice whatsoever of the feedback from people who live in Mile Oak, Bonehill and Fazeley?”Cllr James Parton-Hughes, Lichfield District Council
Cllr Iain Eadie, cabinet member responsible for the Local Plan, said the local authority had sought to balance the strength of feeling with the broader issue of housing demand and local infrastructure.
“It would be wrong to say the council hasn’t tried to take due account of residents’ views, because I am fully aware of the strength of feeling.
“But we do need to balance against that the fact that in certain areas if we do not look for development then infrastructure that smaller settlements – such as your ward – are unlikely ever to come forward.
“Therefore on certain occasions you have to balance how you would get the things people expect to see delivered against the wish for many not to see development in their area.
“I appreciate the point that residents obviously have expressed feelings that in an ideal world some may not wish to see development in that area.”Cllr Iain Eadie, Lichfield District Council
Cllr Parton-Hughes said the objection was not necessarily to building new homes on the whole, rather the scale of the proposed development.
“I’m not a NIMBY and we are not against development – it’s the number and amount of green belt land that will be replaced with houses.
“It’s 130 acres of countryside.
“The Conservative manifesto of 2019 said a Conservative Government would protect the green belt and continue to pursue a brownfield first strategy.
“It feels as though the cabinet or officers may be guilty of choosing the first areas of land that seem right rather than taking an holistic approach.”Cllr James Parton-Hughes, Lichfield District Council
“Trying to strike a balance”
Cllr Eadie said the council needed to consider how to meet the needs of housing across the entire district
“It’s not that we as an authority are saying that we will build on green belt land when there is other alternative sites.
“The vast majority of the south of the district is in the green belt.
“In terms of allocating strategic sites, 3,300 are going in in north east Lichfield as well as 500 going in at Fradley.
“It’s trying to strike a balance of how do we account for those who live in the southern half and will be looking for housing there as well?”Cllr Iain Eadie, Lichfield District Council
Cllr Parton-Hughes insisted it was not too late for Lichfield District Council’s cabinet to change its mind on the current proposals.
Cllr Eadie said a so-called “buffer zone” of potential housing provision could see some developments scaled back.
“What officers would be keen to suggest is that in terms of when we might like to see that Fazeley site coming forward, it would be at the back end of the plan.
“That’s not to say we would propose to remove it from the plan, but the pressure to see it come forward as a development site would be lowered if more of our buffer areas have come forward and met our housing needs.”Cllr Iain Eadie, Lichfield District Council