SOLIHULL could be facing a twin attack following moves that put business in the driving seat when it comes to planning.
The first is the new localism bill which political commentator Simon Jenkins described as ‘a developers ramp’ which breaches ‘the core principle of planning that the long-term use of land should take precendence over an owner’s right to profit.’
In a nutshell the bill says that planning ‘must not act as an impediment to growth’.
Then we have the consecration of the new Enterprise Zone, a regeneration plan put forward by the Birmingham and Solihull Enterprise Partnership (see page 38) which will release some £700 million to boost business development in the region.
Now, the vast majority of that money will be spent in Birmingham, but Solihull, at the heart of the region’s transport network, will be a beneficiary too.
The big fear is that business will see greenfield sites as ripe for development rather than the more costlier to clear brownfield sites which Birmingham in particular has plenty of.
The Coalition Government has said it is giving local authorities greater control over planning matters. Let us hope that, should the localism bill become law, Solihull borough council doesn’t find its hands tied behind its back when it comes to saving our dwindling open spaces.