NEW houses will be built on green belt land in Coventry after the council relaxed its own planning rules.
Leaders at the Labour-run council put the change of policy down to rising housing demands and the need to keep brownfield sites free for businesses.
Applications to build in the countryside will still go through a committee and a consultation is planned later in the year but it opens the door for controversial developments across the city.
One angry parish councillor in Keresley – where 800 homes are planned in the green belt – branded the council unfit for purpose and said locals will continue to fight all new developments.
But deputy leader Coun Phil Townshend said a flexible approach is needed in its bid to double the number of houses built each year.
He claimed interest was being renewed in brownfield sites – such as Browns Lane – and the council needed to look at green belt land to meet demand and provide jobs.
“It had been anticipated there would be a residential and industrial development at Browns Lane but we lost that in the recession,” he said.
“There’s now renewed interest in that site which will provide jobs but it means we need to build the houses elsewhere.”
He added: “Does anybody really believe we’ve got enough housing and that the stock we do have is good enough?
“We’re building around 1,000 houses per year if we’re lucky, so we need to double that over the next ten years.
“We’ve gone from being the 12th largest city in the UK to the 13th and we’ve got to do this if we want to stop that slide.
“Will it be popular? No, but there’s a case to be made to the people of Coventry and the positives outweigh the negatives.”
But Sandra Camwell – a Keresley parish councillor for more than 30 years – slammed the council and said it was simply after more council tax, something Coun Townshend claimed was ‘not the full story’.
She added housing demands had risen because of the number of houses in multiple occupation (HiMO).
“If there were fewer HiMOs then there would be less demand for houses in Keresley.
“As soon as houses are up for sale at a reasonable price then landlords buy them, throw some paint at them and get five students in.
“The council wants to take the green belt out of Coventry but has built a green area right outside Council House. Well I’m not taking my deckchair down to the front of the Council House anytime soon.”