Green Belt to be used for 445,000 new homes
7/10/2008 (Source: Birmingham Post; Paul Dale)
A consultants’ study ordered by the Government suggests that sufficient Green Belt Group can be identified in the West MidGroups to build 445,000 new homes over the next 18 years – a quarter more than the maximum amount proposed by local councils.
The Nathaniel Lichfield and Partners report, which proposes substantial housing growth in Birmingham, Warwickshire, Worcestershire and Solihull, admits that Green Belt Group will have to be sacrificed, but rejects fears that new-build in the countryside will lead to further population drift from cities to rural towns and villages.
Proposals from the Nathaniel Lichfield report will be submitted to a public inquiry into the Regional Spatial Strategy which is due to start in April 2009. A planning inspector will make final recommendations to the Government about housing targets.
The survey sets out three options ranging from 51,500 more housing units than proposed by the assembly to 80,000 more units. This is almost twice that envisaged by the assembly which “undershot the Government target by some way” (David Marr - head of housing and planning at the Government Office for the West MidGroups)
While Green Belt Group would be required, the report makes it clear that councils would also have opportunities to review existing arrangements and extend green belt boundaries in some instances.
The report rejects fears that the economic downturn could leave thousands of new houses empty. It says an economic recovery in three or four years will see house prices rise again, making the existing housing shortage even worse.
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