|Press Release - Decision is Sad News for the City|
The Government's Inspector has supported the Council and agreed to Green Belt land around the City being released for building. The Civic Society agrees that new housing land has to be found, but has long campaigned against wholesale development in the Green Belt, suggesting that the solution lies in the careful expansion of sites north east of the City. The Council's policy has been to concentrate Green Belt release around the City instead of a more balanced and considered approach of sites beyond the Green Belt.
The current plan allocates a minimum of 3,912 houses to the City which is 38% of the District's total. Of these at least 1,650 houses in the City will be on sites lost from the Green Belt. These are in addition to the development on Darwin Park Green Belt allocation in the preceding plan for only 650 houses but approved for 1,200 homes. Continuing loss of Green Belt on such a massive scale is putting an obvious strain on the City's infrastructure which most significantly is failing to keep pace with developments.
When the Council asked for views on its Local Plan proposals, the majority of residents were strongly opposed to release of the Green Belt. These concerns were rejected by the Council, arguing that it was less sustainable to develop on non-Green Belt sites and chose to continue to concentrate the erosion of the Green Belt around the City by the construction of no fewer than three sites, each with at least 450 houses, over the next fourteen years. Despite the Council's contrary view, these schemes will undoubtedly affect the setting and character of the City. The Inspector's approval of the Local Plan will trigger the next phase of allocations of additional sites that are required to meet the short fall in the total to be built up to 2029. This may lead to yet further Green Belt loss in the City because the Local Plan policy provides for the majority of development to be channelled towards the City and Burntwood notwithstanding the massive contribution that has already been made there. In addition some allocations on Green Belt in the villages are envisaged in the Plan.
John Thompson, Chairman of the Society said "This is a disappointing outcome for Lichfield. The Council has chosen not to listen to the views of action groups, the Lichfield Alliance, the Civic Society and a majority of its electorate and instead grafted yet more housing estates onto the edge of the urban area. This is an election year. It remains to be seen what residents feel about their councillors' decision to undermine the Green Belt setting of the City and, by creating such a serious precedent, lay it open to further erosion in the immediate future. This is the inheritance they pass on to the next generation."
Lichfield Civic Society