7th Dec, 2016

MP calls on Labour council colleagues to 'think again' over King's Hill Greenbelt sale

Les Reid 21st Mar, 2016 Updated: 28th Oct, 2016

COVENTRY Labour MP Jim Cunningham has called on party colleagues running Coventry council to ‘think again’ about selling Greenbelt land for a 4,000-home development.

It follows a challenge from Tory councillor Allan Andrews to the Coventry South MP to “put his money where his mouth is” and fight a Coventry council sale of green land at King’s Hill to help Warwick District Council’s housing targets.

As we reported two weeks ago, Coun Andrews pointed to potential contradictions in Mr Cunningham’s opposition to the development.

But Mr Cunningham hit back in a Parliamentary debate he secured on the subject last week.

He insisted his call for Coventry City Council not to sell the land – just over the border from the Finham, Cheylsemore and Styvechale areas of Coventry he represents – was nothing new.

But he said Coventry council only owns 15 per cent of the proposed development site, so it could go ahead anyway even if Coventry council refused to sell.

That was why he was emphasising that Warwick District Council should refuse planning consent for the entire scheme, the Mr Cunningham added.

He was speaking in the debate at Westminster Hall while the council’s Tory opposition motion called a debate about King’s Hill at the Council House on the same day.

Mr Cunningham told fellow MPs: “The Conservative opposition put that motion down and what they are effectively saying is that King’s Hill should not be sold until the proper infrastructure is put in place. Many people will interpret that differently, although it is not for me to interpret what the Conservative motion means.

“… Over the years, Coventry City Council has come to know my views about King’s Hill. Only recently, I had some correspondence with the council about its plans for the area.

“My view is that the council should think again about selling the land to Warwick District Council. Essentially, that is where I differ from what the Conservative motion in the council seems to be suggesting.

“King’s Hill needs to remain free from development. These sentiments are not just my own; they have been echoed by local residents and by anybody who takes an interest in the history and environment of Coventry.

“I am disappointed that these plans have been allowed to progress.

“… The decision to sell the land is ultimately the responsibility of the council, and I have already urged it to reconsider its decision and not sell that land.

“I will not hide my preference that the land should not be used for development, especially when the council tax from it will be sent to Warwickshire and while it is green-belt land.

He said King’s Hill “helps to define the city boundaries of Coventry” and is “a welcome patch of countryside”.

He added infrastructure and services nearby in Coventry could become “further overstretched” to the detriment of city council taxpayers, adding brownfield sites offered a better alternative.