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War of words over Solihull's new homes

A long-running row about where Solihull Council should build new homes was reignited this week

A long-running row about where Solihull Council should build new homes was reignited this week.

At Tuesday’s Full Council meeting, Labour claimed that it was unfair to try and fit some 800 new homes into an already “packed” north Solihull.

They accused the Tories of protecting villages from new developments, arguing that places like Knowle must take their share too.

Councillor Simon Slater (Lab, Shirley West) said: “We can’t afford to just look to build on the open spaces of existing urban areas. It’s time to grow up a bit and take the tough decision to build in rural areas and the green belt. It’s the only way we’ll solve the housing shortage.”

Solihull’s longest-serving councillor, Alf Hill, branded the Conservatives the “Meriden mafia”- afraid of allowing development in their heartlands.

And Nick Stephens, who also represents the ward, said: “The philosophy seems to be pack them in the north, space them out in the south.”

But the Conservatives hit back, claiming Labour were dragging up old divisions between the north and south of the borough.

Coun Ken Meeson, leader of Solihull Council, insisted that areas south of the A45 had not been given special treatment.

“I came here in the 1970s and since then we’ve seen development at Monkspath, Cheswick Green, Four Ashes, vast tracts of Knowle... The bulk of development in recent years has been in those areas, while actually the most need for affordable homes is in the north.”

His views were echoed by Coun Peter Hogarth (Con, Silhill), who cited intensive developments in the likes of Wharf Lane and Dickens Heath.

Lib Dem John Windmill (Olton) said: “I don’t see it as north vs south, or east vs west, this is a problem facing the whole borough.”

 

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