A PROTEST against plans to build 2,800 new Redditch homes on greenbelt land by the village of Bentley has won the backing of Culture Secretary Sajid Javid.
A packed meeting at Bentley village hall heard Mr Javid, who is standing for re-election as MP for Bromsgrove, pledge to write to the planning inspector in a bid to have the plans overturned.
“If re-elected I will not only be writing to the planning inspector but before that I will meet with all the relevant bodies to make sure that my constituents’ concerns are heard loud and clear.” said Mr Javid.
Bentley is geographically close to Redditch but sits in Bromsgrove District. Neighbouring councils have a ‘duty to co-operate’ but Malcolm Glainger of Bentley Area Action Group told the meeting that didn’t mean they had to agree.
“One thing that gives me some discomfort is when Redditch says to Bromsgrove ‘will you take 2,800 houses’ and Bromsgrove says yes – that’s not so much a case of co-operation but one of capitulation.”
Key questions surround the suitability of the site and the sustainability of the development given the lack of infrastructure, as well as the fact that the land is in the greenbelt.
“When it comes to the greenbelt we are very clear – and that is that the greenbelt should not be built on unless in exceptional circumstances.” said Mr Javid.
“The question is, is Redditch’s demand exceptional? I do not have the answer to that; I do not think it is but Redditch planning officers do and it remains to be seen if the planning inspector agrees.”
Pushed by Dave Rose of Webheath Action Group – which is fighting its own battle against unwelcome development – who said that Karen Lumley, as MP for Redditch, had written to the planning inspector raising objections to the proposals Mr Javid added: “I can take this issue up nationally and also work with you here both at parish and district council level.
“I can sit down with all the information we have and write to the planning inspector and clearly, as well as sustainability, there are plenty of other questions to be asked about this.”
Redditch Borough Council is required to find room for 6,400 new homes by 2030. It estimates that 3,000 of these can be found within the borough and had asked Bromsgrove under duty to co-operate to help site the remaining 3,400.
Of these, some could be built in Webheath behind Crumpfields Lane with the remaining 2,800 going on land between the A448 Bromsgrove Highway and Foxlydiate Lane butting up to Bentley.
The planning inspector is due to consider the plans in June.