20th Oct, 2020

Local Plan for homes on Green Belt gets nod but will 'set Coventry in concrete'

Les Reid 14th Mar, 2017 Updated: 14th Mar, 2017

COVENTRY’S Local Plan to build 25,000 homes including on large swathes of green belt has been backed by Labour councillors today.

The Labour majority voted down Conservative opposition amendments, with Tory councillor Gary Ridley warning the city would be “set in concrete”.

But Labour councillors including former council leader John Mutton, now cabinet member for finance, hit back.

He accused the Tories of hypocrisy, saying the city’s Conservatives had similar plans for the green belt and housing targets when in power at the Council House before 2010.

Tory councillors say those numbers were forced on them by Gordon Brown’s former Labour government until the coalition scrapped the former region-wide plans, called Regional Spatial Strategies.

The Labour council in 2010 under Coun Mutton had pledged to voters it would not build on any green belt or green fields, and had in 2012 proposed just 12,000 new homes.

But the government appointed a planning inspector who ordered Coventry City Council to work more closely with neighbouring authorities to take on more of the region’s housing demand.

Public opposition has been particularly vocal against plans for 8,000 homes in the green belt at various locations, especially at Keresley and Eastern Green.

The plans will no undergo a final consultation period until next month.

The Local Plan allocates land for development for housing, employment and other uses up until 2031.

The Tory opposition has called it a ‘developers’ charter’, and urged brownfield to be used first, pending a review of forecasts for immigration into Coventry and Warwickshire and the sub-region’s population growth, especially given the UK is leaving the European Union.

A government inspector this month made only minor alterations to Coventry’s Local Plan.

The Tories in government had pledged under a so-called ‘localism’ agenda to allow councils to make their own decisions where possible, although there has been a degree of government intervention.

More than 2,000 homes have been allocated for Windmill Village Hotel’s golf course and nearby land around the A45.

Tories say the plans threaten the ‘Meriden Gap’ and could be the start of bringing Coventry and Birmingham closer together.

Other housing sites are at Bablake, Foleshill, Holbrooks, Longford and Tile Hill.

Labour councillors including Kevin Maton have long claimed only 10 per cent of the city’s Greenbelt could be used, as they plan for population growth taking the city to more than 400,000 inhabitants.

But major job creation schemes which were to create more than 30,000 jobs – to support housing development – have experienced major setbacks.

They include the Friargate business development around Coventry station and former plans for a manufacturing and warehouse park around Coventry Airport. Jaguar Land Rover now has plans for expansion and manufacturing.

Coventry and Warwickshire councils have had to find space for 88,000 homes and some of green belt land just across the border has been earmarked by other councils.

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