The Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government has today said he will allow developers to build up to 800 homes on a former Northfield golf course, after proposals were turned down by Birmingham City Council.
The announcement means that Bloor Homes can build their propose development of 800 homes, a primary school and a multi-use community hub on the site of the former North Worcestershire Golf Club in Hanging Lane.
Following years of speculation, rumours, consultations, withdrawn proposals and petitions, BCC’s planning committee decided to turn down Bloor Homes’ controversial plans to build 950 homes on the land belonging to the former North Worcestershire Golf Club (NWGC) on Hanging Lane in August 2017.
The main reasons cited for refusal were:
- The site was ruled out for housing development in January 2017 when the government’s chief planning officer accepted the Birmingham Development Plan.
- Concerns remain about ecology & landscaping.
Appeal and amendments
In February this year, Bloor appealed to the government’s Planning Inspectorate to overturn the council’s decision.
This summer, Bloor amended their plans to reduce the number of houses to 800, reducing the developed area and density, improving wildlife corridors and setting frontage back from Frankley Beeches Road.
Birmingham City Council accepted theses amendments on principle. However, city planners expressed that the application would still be refused on the grounds that the development of the golf course land was ruled out by a government inspector when approving the Birmingham Development Plan.
A public inquiry was held in October 2018 to allow a government planning inspector to gather views before a decision on the appeal could be made by the minister for Housing, Communities and Local Government James Brokenshire MP.
Following the inquiry, Planning Inspector Paul Singleton recommended to the Secretary of State that, based on the revisions to the plans, the permission be granted.
Today, Wednesday 24th July, the Planning Inspectorate announced that the proposal to build 800 homes on the site has been approved by the Secretary of State.
There are a number of conditions in place, including conditions to protect the habitat and wildlife it supports. Download the full Appeal Decision (pdf)
Northfield’s MP Richard Burden (Labour) has expressed concerns regarding the proposals since Bloor Homes began consultation into ideas for redevelopment of the site back in 2014.
Mr Burden said: “This is a very disappointing decision in the light of the very real concerns that exist about the environmental sustainability of a development like this, and about the impact on traffic congestion in the area.
“The first thing Birmingham City Council should now do is to assess whether there are grounds to challenge the decision of the Secretary of State in court.
“Even if they believe that grounds do not exist to challenge the decision as a whole, there are an array of conditions that have to be satisfied before the development can go ahead covering issues ranging from conservation and flood defences to school and community centre provision.
“This story has a long way yet to run.”
Concerned at communications developers were continuing to make with the government since the Inquiry, Cllr Olly Armstrong (Lab, Northfield) had recently written a letter re-emphasising his opposition to the proposed development. Read letter in full below.
Reacting to the decision to approve the development, Cllr Armstrong said: “Disappointed and appalled that on the day a new Prime Minister moves into number 10, a housing plan that no one wants, that isn’t eco-friendly or responsive to our climate emergency, and rips up vast swathes of needed trees, greenery and animal habitation is signed off by the government.
“We will continue to fight this on behalf of the residents and the planet.”
Conservative Parliamentary candidate for Northfield is Gary Sambrook, currently serving as councillor for Kingstanding ward.
Mr Sambrook said: “The decision to approve this plan is very disappointing and flies in the face of local residents who have worked so hard to campaign against the over development of the golf course.
“While many people accepted that some development was necessary, 800 homes is far too many and will place a significant burden on local infrastructure such as roads, schools, and the NHS.
“The City Council need to be doing all they can to support local residents to challenge this decision and ensure local residents are listened to.”
Frankley Great Park Councillor Simon Morrall also expressed disappointment in the decision.
He said: “I think this is a bad decision! The application has been rejected cross party by Conservative Councillors and the previous Conservative MP Roger King, who has been one of the most prominent campaigners against this because his house actually backs onto the development.
“So for a Labour Councillor to play party politics with this is extremely disappointing, especially when the Labour City Council were none-existent in opposing the Crematorium at the back of Frankley, which today has been put onto the market for “potential housing”.
“Considering the Labour City Council refused to challenge that, I won’t be holding out for any action here. Meanwhile, Northfield Conservatives will continue to stand up for the residents we serve all year round.”
There will be two public emergency meetings with Richard Burden MP and Cllr Olly Armstrong for residents:
Letter from Cllr Armstrong
Dear Ms Nowak,
I write in reply to the recent letters you received from Steve Roberts, regional managing director of Bloor Homes, and John Bloor, of Bloor Homes, in regards to the site of the former North Worcestershire Golf Club in Northfield Birmingham, of which I was emailed a scanned copy.
I would like to add another perspective to this conversation for your consideration.
My city, like an increasing number of of UK and international cities, has this month declared a climate emergency. We face unprecedented climate breakdown.
Now is the only time we have to act. We must respond well, and with intelligence, in all the things we have any power over, to protect our planet’s, our children’s, our own future.
One of the key ways we can respond, and must, if we have any hope of a human future on this planet, is through how we use, nurture, protect and build upon land.
We must of course build homes. We have a housing crisis. But the current plan for this green space is not what is needed. It does nothing to respond to climate breakdown, it cares little for seeking to reach carbon zero as a site, nor does it offer anything but tokenism in light of what so many other large builds are doing across Europe to respond to climate breakdown.
We can do better, our land can be used better, housing planners can do better, for us, for our cities, and for our children’s futures.
Any genuine emergency must shift the way in which we think and act. I hope the climate emergency and the current governments intent to reach carbon net zero by 2050(as well as the increasingly loud call for this target to need to be hit by 2030 or even 2025) shifts our thinking and we see there are far better ways to approach this and other pieces of beautiful green land, with both the needs of the local community and the need to smartly respond to climate breakdown, intertwined in its core.
Ideas such as:
*Re-wilding the land. Creating city or community owned forests, maintained by and for all. *Carbon Zero, low density, eco housing; low impact builds that are green in reality
*Urban green space intervention, as outlined in the WHO report on climate.
Let’s please begin to do something brave and beautiful with our land, planning and homes, lets try and actually save the planet, and rescue humanity and nature alongside it.