I wish to update residents as to where we are with the review of the boroughs Local Development Plan (LDP). For those new to the area, the LDP is a required document which identifies the number of housing and location required for our own needs but also must take into account the needs of neighbouring authorities within a Housing Management Area (HMA). The 2013 plan identified the need for 11,000 new homes within the lifetime of the plan.
The 2013 LDP is still in place but even though the plan was agreed by the Planning Inspectorate (after an inquiry in public), developers objected to two sites being returned to the green belt (Lowbrook Farm and Tidbury Green Farm) and that the numbers of houses in the plan was insufficient. A subsequent judicial review at the High Court agreed with this view and so did the Court of Appeal when the council appealed to this judgement. The 2013 LDP can be read here: http://www.solihull.gov.uk/Portals/0/Planning/LDF/Local_Plan_Final.pdf
Solihull Council launched its review of the LDP in 2016 a further 6,150 houses were identified as being required and a consultation document on the identified sites was published: http://www.solihull.gov.uk/Portals/0/Planning/LPR/Draft_Local_Plan_05.12.16.pdf
However, progress on the plan stalled because of government green and white papers on housing, further investigation into housing numbers ( especially within the HMA) and submissions from neighbouring authorities that we have not allocated enough houses to address the need to cooperate with their requirements. Some neighbouring authorities are now having their local plans examined and the issue of numbers of identified housing needs may become clearer. This is vital because if the council does not have a plan that is accepted by the Planning Inspectorate it will fail.
At a recent Cabinet decision session the timetable for the plan was updated and a supplementary consultation will take place in December, with the final draft ready for submission in summer 2019. It is possible some sites in the original consultation will be removed and others inserted, with more sites being allocated. I will know once the plan is published.
What it means for Blythe Ward:
Allocation 12 relates to Land ‘South of Dog Kennel Lane’ Shirley and is to be tied in with Allocation 11 (relatively known as the TRW site).
Allocation 4 relates to land ‘West of Dickens Heath’, currently mainly sports fields. See pages 146/7 and 162 in document linked below. See pages 153 and 170 in below document.
Allocation 13 has part of the land within the Blythe ward boundary but is essentially within Shirley South ward. See pages 154 and 171 in below document.
These sites; maps and more details can be found within the 2016 LDP Review consultation – link here: Draft_Local_Plan_05.12.16
I have serious reservations about Allocation 4 because of the impact it will have on Dickens Heath, roads leading to Shirley (via Tanworth Lane and Haslucks Green Road especially). It is very obvious that new residents will drive through Dickens Heath to access routes into and through Solihull and Shirley. Dickens Heath can not cope with additional traffic, certainly from some 800 to 1,000 new properties. The junctions at Tanworth Lane/Blackford Road and Dog Kennel Lane can not cope with this additional traffic and with vehicle already ‘backing up’ along Dickens Heath Road near to Tanworth Lane at peak periods I can also envisage traffic being stationary within the Village itself, where most houses are only a few feet from the highway. The impact on air quality will be serious.
There can be plans for the replacement of sports fields, even creating a better environment – this needs the full ‘buy-in’ from the existing sports clubs. However, the issue that worries me most is the traffic impact and the threat towards impacting on air quality within the village.
I will not support this application as it stands and can not see any infrastructure that can reduce the severe traffic congestion impact that will occur in Dickens Heath Village and roads leading to Shirley.
Allocation 13 is mainly within neighbouring Shirley South ward and their ward councillors have raised objections to this site. It does not seem to identify any specific or direct links into Dickens Heath but I would expect a road link towards Tanworth Lane, and as I have mentioned above, this can only have a negative impact on existing and further traffic congestion and lead towards harming air quality.
Allocation 12 (and through connectivity Allocation 11 which is within Shirley South ward) has the potential to be delivered but…
The issue of coalescence (merging of communities) is an issue and the green space between Shirley and Cheswick Green will be eroded. Any development must be a ribbon type, leaving a substantial amount of green space between the development site and Cheswick Green. There must be no highway access to and from Cheswick Green Village from the new development and the green space between the development and the village must become ‘public realm’ – creating a country park effect the whole length of Dog Kennel Lane with the only access being via existing public footpaths. I will certainly look for this area to be set aside as a green space under the control of the parish council.
It is also essential that flood attenuation measures should ensure an extremely high degree of ‘betterment’ to capture ground level water runoff and create substantial balancing ponds to capture any flood water from the Shirley area and thus reduce any impact on Cheswick Green further along the brooks serving the River Blythe. It is also essential traffic movements from this site are ‘motivated’ towards the A34 Stratford Road, away from the heavily used Tanworth Lane and Blackford Road.
Because of its proximity to the main A34 Stratford Road, thus motorway links, I feel this site will remain in the plan and will be difficult to oppose. This does not mean it is a ‘given’ and my red lines are as set out about.
How to engage:
Once the new consultation document is published (it will be in a similar format as the previous ones) I will be in touch and post in on my website and local Facebook forums. There will be the opportunity for comment.
The timetable shows the examination of the draft LDP is expected from next Autumn to Winter. Here the planning inspector will hold his/her examination in a public inquiry type format (usually at the council house) for several weeks. This will be an opportunity for interested parties to make both written and verbal presentations.
Please feel free to ask any questions or seek clarification as to what I have posted. I have tried to be succinct but also address the issue in a least complex way as possible. A lot of information can be gleaned from the 2013 and 2016 documents.