29th Jun, 2022

Green belt campaigners battling to stop 2,400 homes plan in Eastern Green appeal to Secretary of State

COUNTRYSIDE campaigners have written to the Secretary of State asking him to use his powers to direct planners not to grant permission for up to 2,400 homes on former green belt land in Eastern Green.

The joint appeal was made by Andy Street, Mayor of West Midlands, Merle Gering, Chair of Keep Our Green Belt Green in Coventry and Warwickshire, Sir Andrew Watson, the chair of countryside charity CPRE Warwickshire, and Coun Gary Ridley, who represents Coventry’s Woodlands Ward.

They are urging the Secretary of State to intervene as the OSR (Office for Statistics Regulation) is currently reviewing the statistics for Coventry on which the Local Plan was based, after it emerged that other parts of the UK, including Birmingham, had concerns population figures were deliberately over-estimated to justify house building on the green belt.

The Eastern Green site was removed from the green belt under the Local Plan in 2016. The letter to Robert Jenrick, the Secretary of State, says: “This area of countryside forms part of the strategically vital ‘Meriden Gap’ between Coventry and Birmingham and has been protected from development by strong planning policy for 70 years.”

As part of this wider development Coventry’s planning committee has been recommended to approve 115 houses on land at Pickford Green Lane, close to Allesley Green. It includes 86 private and 29 affordable homes on a 4.54-hectare site – a mix of two, three and four bedroom properties, bungalows and maisonettes.

A decision was due to be taken tomorrow (Thursday January 28), but this application has now been deferred until February 11.

Retired NHS manager Peter Maddock, who lives close by to the proposed development site, said: “As a resident of Allesley Green I fully support the letter requesting the Secretary of State to call in the Eastern Hallam application.

“The fact that the UKSA (UK Statistics Authority) is to review the ONS population projections for Coventry is a clear indicator that there is a problem with the population numbers in the Local Plan, which are the rationale for the removal of the green belt. I feel the City should wait for the UKSA review before any irreversible decisions are made.

“The Hallam application for 2400 homes had very poorly argued plans for transport, stating that a 19% shift away from the car will be achieved (modal shift) This has not been achieved anywhere in the UK, and if it does not work, our already poor air quality will get much worse in the Local area

“There has been no really sound planning for how the City would ensure that its Health services could cope with major population changes, some parts of the NHS have not even been consulted (Mental Health services, and Ambulance services).

“So, I am really worried for our wonderful but totally overstretched Health services. PFI Hospitals are really difficult to flex, and staff resources are scarce.”

Many members of Allesley Green Residents’ Association have fiercely opposed the plans and campaigned against the decision to remove the Eastern Green site from the green belt since 2016.

Further objections have been received from Allesley Parish Council, expressing concern that local roads cannot cope with extra traffic and that the density is too high, 24 local residents and three local councillors. Coventry City Council Archaeology and Conservation departments also raised objections over ‘low level harm’ to two undesignated heritage sites, Pickford House and Blythe House. There were 42 letters of support for the proposal.

Coun Ridley said: “Once the greenbelt is gone it’s gone forever. This development will have a devastating impact on the local environment, and it will undoubtedly contribute to climate change.

“Green belt land is only supposed to be developed in exceptional circumstances and bearing in mind the city can deliver nearly 20,000 dwellings off the green belt I do not believe that test has been met. We need a brownfield approach in Coventry enshrined in a local plan for local people and not this developer’s charter.”

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