A CITY councillor for housing recommends he, local MPs and political leaders meet with housing secretary Robert Jenrick to discuss the threat to green belt land in Coventry and Warwickshire.
Tomorrow (Tuesday December 1) the Council’s Cabinet will consider a report recommending the council should review its Local Plan, but only if the government can guarantee it will reduce the housing need below the levels in the current Local Plan.
Countryside campaigners have called for an immediate review of Coventry’s Local Plan expressing deep concern over a growing number of planning applications on former green belt land, including 24,000 houses in Eastern Green and Keresley. Two petitions with 7,000 signatures were submitted to the council last week.
Protestors have contested “hugely overstated” ONS population growth figures and joined forces with a cross-party of five MPs, including two Labour MPs for Coventry, Zarah Sultana and Taiwo Owatemi, and the West Midlands mayor calling for an independent inquiry, as reported in the Observer last week.
Coun David Welsh, cabinet member for housing and communities, is now recommending that he and local MPs, and other local political leaders should call for a meeting with the Secretary of State, Robert Jenrick to get a clearer understanding about national housing targets and how they may impact on Coventry’s Local Plan.
Coventry’s Local Plan is set to be reviewed in December 2022 when the most up-to-date census information is available, but at last Friday’s Cabinet meeting Coun Welsh indicated he may consider an earlier review if he had government reassurances.
He said: “As far as I can see the government want to build cheap and build fast and they are asking the city to build double the amount of houses that we have already set out in our Local Plan, putting green belt at risk.
“That’s why at my Cabinet Member meeting today I recommended that we should meet with the Secretary of State to clearly understand what his expectation is and make the case for Coventry.
“If the government can provide a guarantee that an early review of our Local Plan would reduce our housing numbers below the 1,230 requirement, it is something I would consider.
“I clearly stated that I am not prepared to review the Local Plan if – based on government methodology – our housing numbers go up.”
Last Thursday planning permission was granted for a controversial development of up to 2,400 houses including extra-care accommodation, two shopping centres, new road access from the A45 via Pickford Green Lane and a new primary school, on farmland previously designated as Green Belt land until 2016 under Coventry’s Local Plan.
A petition with 1,600 signatures was presented in opposition with further objections from West Midlands mayor Andy Street and three Woodlands ward councillors – Julia Lepoidevin, Peter Male and Gary Ridley.