BUILDING more homes in the borough must not come at the expense of its green and pleasant character, Solihull’s MP said this week.
Lib Dem Lorely Burt admitted that there was a difficult “balancing act” in providing enough new homes without damaging the suburbs that made Solihull such a desirable place to live.
“There is no getting around the fact that new homes need to be built,” she said. “But some of the applications I have fought in the past would have crammed homes in and really harmed the atmosphere of the areas concerned.
“What we don’t want to do is damage one of the reasons so many people want to come and live in Solihull.”
Few developments have been as contentious as “garden grabbing” schemes and few places saw such a rush of these applications as Solihull. Some of the most high-profile schemes sought permission to build almost 100 homes to the rear of existing properties.
The Government had pledged to put a stop to the practice in 2010, although a steady stream of applications continue to be received by Solihull Council.
One such battle was due to come to a head this week, with residents desperately trying to prevent a detached home being built amid traditional bungalows in the Hillfield area.
Over three years since the coalition government took power, the Solihull News asked Mrs Burt whether ministers had done enough to deter developers from attempting to build on back gardens.
“Well what we did do was ensure that gardens were no longer classed as brownfield sites as they had been under Labour,” she said. “That was very important in trying to stop garden grabbing.
“There are of course existing planning laws which councils can turn to as well.”