MERIDEN’S MP has rubbished claims that a “new city” will be built slap-bang in the middle of the Meriden Gap.
Residents were horrified by talk of 100,000 new homes being built on green belt land, which they claim would obliterate the countryside that currently separates Coventry and Birmingham.
Alarm bells started ringing following comments made by Andrew McNaughton, the chief engineer of High Speed 2. In a lecture he said a new station to be built near the NEC could expand into a huge new transport hub and commercial quarter.
But Meriden MP Caroline Spelman said this week: “Like anyone who lives in the Meriden Gap, I too was appalled by the suggestion that a new city would be created in this precious lung of green space.
“I have asked HS2 for an explanation and they have categorically confirmed that there is no intention to create a new city in the green belt between Birmingham and Coventry.”
Coun Jim Ryan (Con, Bickenhill) described the suggestion of a vast urban sprawl as “totally bogus”.
“The nutty professor should be placed in the stocks in Meriden so we can pelt some rotten cabbages at him. What this does do is focus our minds away from the real issue of the HS2.”
And fears about a development on this scale have been compounded by a shake-up of planning reforms - which critics say will make concreting countryside easier.
Villagers in the likes of Balsall Common, Hampton-in-Arden and Meriden itself, fear that their communities will be “utterly swamped”.
Graham Lock, who lives in Berkswell, said there were “real worries” about what a massive conurbation would mean for rural areas.
“To have that many new homes would put a massive strain on the road network and the infrastructure,” he said this week.
“Places like Balsall Common and Berkswell could end up totally surrounded, with all the open space being devoured.”
* Coun Ryan has also called for an “open and comprehensive” consultation on the environmental impact of high-speed rail.
“HS2 is going to have a profound impact on the natural areas of Solihull and it is important we are involved.”