DOZENS of concerned campaigners demonstrated outside the Council House yesterday morning – campaigning against proposals to build homes on up to ten per cent of Coventry’s Green Belt.
Supported by Conservative opposition councillors, the campaigners are calling on an independent planning inspector to throw out ruling Labour councillors’ draft Local Plan for development for the next 15 years.
The plan identifies various Green Belt sites around the city, including plans to construct 5,000 new houses in Keresley, 2,000 houses in Eastern Green as well as warehousing and a retail centre the size of Cannon Park at Eastern Green.
Though Labour claims the growth will be led by new jobs and economic growth, the opposing Tories say brownfield sites should be used first.
Other affected green sites would be at Coundon Wedge, Cromwell Lane, and King’s Health near Finham and Broad Lane as housing overspill just outside the city border.
Some residents groups and Conservative councillors from Woodlands, Westwood and Bablake wards, Peter Male, Gary Ridley and Julia Lepoidevin, will call on the planning inspector to reject the council’s proposals.
Leader of Coventry Conservatives, Coun John Blundell, said: “This local plan is a developers charter – it treats freshly released greenbelt Land and brownfield sites in the same way.
“It means the first day this plan is implemented we could see bulldozers on the greenbelt while brownfield sites are still available.
“Brownfield sites should be prioritised for development and we need a plan which reflects this.
“The plan should strike a balance between development and greenbelt conservation.”
Speaking to The Observer on Wednesday morning, Keresley Parish Councillor Dorothy Hall said the situation is not about having housing, but instead having appropriate housing in the right place.
She added: “I don’t understand why they’re taking greenbelt land when they could consider other areas more appropriate for construction.”
Campaigner Neil Rippington, who is based on Cromwell Lane – an area which will be affected by construction should plans go ahead – said the infrastructure in Tile Hill cannot cope with another 2,000 homes in Eastern Green.
He added: “The infrastructure isn’t there to take any more people, it would be irresponsible if this was built.
“In terms of services, schools and shops the area wouldn’t be able to cope.
“Not only would the infrastructure suffer but Coventry would lose one of its assets in terms of beautiful greenbelt land.
“There’s also concerns about road safety, crossing Cromwell Lane in the morning is becoming more dangerous and more traffic would add to this problem.”
Woodlands Ward Councillor, Coun Julia Lepoidevin also voiced her concern about the impact more houses could have on local infrastructure and services.
She said: “I’m deeply concerned about the impact this could have on local infrastructure and services.
“We’ve already seen problems with the A45/ Broad Lane roundabout – imagine it with an extra 2,000 houses nearby.”
Also supporting the campaign, Coun Jaswant Birdi, whose Bablake ward takes in Keresley, said: “We know new houses need to be built in Coventry.
“However, the construction of warehousing and a new retail centre on the greenbelt won’t address housing need.
“We’d urge the planning inspector to listen to the people, reject this document and ask the Council to think again.”