SOLIHULL’S motto may be urbs in rure but the emphasis was very definitely on the rure when the Green Party launched their national mannifesto for the local elections in the borough.
At the event, officials wasted little time in branding changes to planning laws - giving greater weight in favour of applications - as little more than a “developer’s charter”.
Speaking at Solihull’s Ramada Hotel on Monday, Councillor Andy Cooper, chairman of the Association of Green Councillors, said there were fears the new legislation would lead to a free-for-all.
“The Government doesn’t see the function of planning as protecting the environment,” he said. “It’s a policy that looks at economic growth to the exclusion of all else.
“The Tories are also running a con by claiming that local people will get their say and can draw up their own development plans. But the only actual choice is how much they want on top of what councils have already pledged to build.”
Although the party acknowledged there was a desperate need to provide more affordable homes, it argued that developers were taking the easy option by building on greenfield sites.
The Greens said that a failure by councils to identify more brownfield sites was also making things easier for developments.
They highlighted the case of a tract of ancient farmland in Elmdon Road, Marston Green - which a Government Inspector recently agreed should be released for new housing.
Coun Howard Allen (Green, Shirley West) said: “Now the same thing is happening at Aqueduct Road, Shirley, when there’s a brownfield site [Powergen] a mile away.”
Mr Cooper, who sits on Kirklees Council, said that the Greens had chosen Solihull to launch their nationwide manifesto as there was a “trail-blazing” local party.
“I think what has been achieved here is an example of what we can do.”