SOLIHULL MP Lorely Burt spoke passionately about defending the green belt at a packed public meeting last Thursday evening over controversial plans by a charity to build a £20 million hospice on land in Marsh Lane, Solihull.
Marie Curie Cancer Care is hoping to relocate from its current premises in Warwick Road to a new six acre site offering state of the art facilities to terminally ill people.
However the proposals have met fierce opposition from residents in Marsh Lane and roads nearby.
An estimated 90 people attended the meeting for a question and answer session with Mrs Burt and Silhill Ward councillors Sheila Pittaway and Leela Widger along with members of the newly formed MLARG (Marsh Lane Residents Action Group) and their retained planning consultant David Scott.
Mrs Burt told the audience that building on green belt land should always be seen as a last resort and stressed all the political parties in Solihull had united to defend the green belt against Government suggestions that 20,000 new homes be built in the borough.
Her comments came after Mr Scott had emphasised that any planning permission on green belt land in Solihull could undermine the council’s attempts to defend other green belt areas in the borough.
Residents also fear increased traffic along Marsh Lane and road safety issues.
Speaking yesterday, Mrs Burt said: “We know Marie Curie needs to improve on existing hospice facilities but the only problem is the proposed site is on green belt land.”
Annette Whibley, of MLARG, said residents were vowing to fight on against the plans.
“The mood amongst most residents is one of determination in opposition to the scheme,” she said.
“They are puzzled why Marie Curie seem so keen to go ahead with it when there is such strong feeling.”
Liz Cottier, hospice manager for Marie Curie at the Warwick Road site, said the charity was still planning to push ahead with its plans to build in Marsh Lane with a planning application expected to go before Solihull Council in June but was hoping to set up a series of consultative workshops with residents over the next few weeks.