RESIDENTS of Hampton-in-Arden concerned about the prospect of over 100 more homes being built in the village have been urged by their MP to seize a new opportunity to make their feelings known.
Cabinet minister Caroline Spelman said that by creating a Neighbourhood Plan under the recently introduced Localism Act, small communities could have a much greater influence on local development than previously.
“The idea is instead of planning being top down from Whitehall it should be bottom up from the community,” she said, admitting that people were fed up of being ridden roughshod over by officialdom.
Mrs Spelman, Environment Secretary and MP for Meriden, was speaking at a public meeting in Hampton on planning reform.
It followed Solihull Council’s announcement that thousands of new homes are planned for the borough over the next 15 years.
Under the council’s Local Plan, 110 homes will be built on about six acres of land between a former wartime ammunition dump on the outskirts of the village and an upmarket 1990s estate known as Hampton Gate.
The site is close to the River Blythe and the projected route of the HS2 rail line.
Mrs Spelman told her audience of local residents and borough and parish councillors that nothing was “set in stone” yet, and through a Neighbourhood Plan, locals could have an input on the number of homes to be built, the location and the type of dwellings.
She said there was a pressing need for affordable homes in villages like Hampton, Knowle and Dorridge, where because of high prices, young first-time buyers could not get a foot on the property ladder.
Mrs Spelman added: “There are 13,500 people on the waiting list for social housing in the borough of Solihull and it’s a rising figure.”