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New Forest of Arden housing plan sparks a barrage of complaints

Solihull Council's planning committee recently gave outline planning permission for developer Catesby Estates Ltd to build 110 homes on land near Kenilworth Road.

Councillor Jim Ryan
Councillor Jim Ryan

Residents fear the whole of Balsall Common’s green belt could be wiped out after a new housing development was earmarked for land on the Forest of Arden.

Solihull Council’s planning committee recently gave outline planning permission for developer Catesby Estates Ltd to build 110 homes on land near Kenilworth Road.

But members of campaign group BARRAGE (Balsall Against Rural Ruin and Green Belt Erosion) fear the move could set a precedent for further development on the protected land, which is home to wildlife, including near-extinct species.

“This area is a landmark in Solihull,” Wendy Wilson, a member of BARRAGE, said.

“There is Berkswell Windmill and ancient Forest of Arden. The meadows are part of the green belt and the decision flies in the face of national planning guidelines and statute.”

The site is allocated for development in the Solihull Local Plan, which sets out the future areas for housing and business development.

But campaigners say there are other sites identified in the document, which would be more suitable for the development.

Concerns have also been raised over the increase in traffic caused by the amount of new homes and pressures on nearby facilities.

“Kenilworth Road is a very busy road as it is,” Wendy added.

“This will be made worse by the amount of people trying to access Balsall Common Primary School. The school is very highly regarded and is going to be one of the main attractions to the new homes.

“Local residents have spoken out but they feel ignored.

“We fear this will set a precedent for future development and soon the whole of Balsall Common’s green belt will be wiped out.”

Councillor Jim Ryan (Con, Bickenhill), one of the members who approved the plans, said it is difficult for the council to object to plans that have been agreed as part of the local plan.

“The plans have already been agreed in principal and while I always have great sympathy and understanding for residents, it would be very difficult to argue with something that has been set down by the planning inspector,” he said.

“Once the plans have been agreed in principal, the issue of green belt does not come into it.

“Our job is to ensure the conditions and circumstances of the plans are adhered to.

“We would have to have very substantial grounds to object to the application. The applicant could then go back to the inspector and the council could then incur considerable costs.”

 

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