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Birmingham’s controversial development plan given green light

Birmingham’s controversial plan to build thousands of homes on green belt land to address the city’s housing crisis has been given the go-ahead by central government.

Housing minister Gavin Barwell has agreed to allow the Birmingham Development Plan (BDP), which will aim to construct 51,000 homes – 6,000 of them by removing the designation on green belt land in Sutton Coldfield.

The land will now be used to create what will be known as the Langley Sustainable Urban Extension (SUE), which will contain a major industrial estate.

Agreeing that the scale of Birmingham’s unmet housing demands were “exceptional and possibly unique”, Barwell lifted a holding direction which had previously blocked the plan’s development.

Cllr John Clancy, leader of Birmingham City Council, said: “This is excellent news because it means we can now get on with the vital task of building homes and delivering the jobs that our fast-growing population so desperately needs.

“This is an ambitious plan for growth which will deliver 51,100 new homes and significant new employment opportunities.”

The city council defended the decision, saying that they had carefully considered every potential brownfield site through their Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment.

It is estimated that Birmingham will need up to 89,000 new homes by 2031 in order to meet its housing needs.

The authorisation of the plan did not go unnoticed by the communities secretary Sajid Javid, who praised the decision at the annual lunch held by the National House-Building Council (NHBC).

“Where local councils come forward with sensible, robust local plans – and are willing to take the tough decisions – I will back them all the way,” he said.

Waheed Nazir, strategic director of economy at the council, added: “Removing the holding direction is an important decision both for the city and the wider UK in terms of our ability to deliver housing growth.

“We therefore welcome the secretary of state’s endorsement of the plan and recognition [that] we have taken a robust approach that is consistent with national policy.”

However, the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) expressed its displeasure with the decision, saying that central government should have intervened earlier to stop the green belt land being lost.

“This was really too late in the day for government to change the decision,” said Paul Miner, CPRE’s planning campaign manager.

“We believe that priority should be given to the huge untapped potential for brownfield regeneration, both within Birmingham itself and in the wider West Midlands conurbation.”

(Image: c. Cristian Bortes)

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