nick_mathiasonIn his monograph on housing issues, business correspondent Nick Mathiason* records that – in England alone – there are 1.4 million households on council waiting lists – a 34% rise since 1997.

Almost 85,000 children are living in temporary accommodation. Few local social housing units are being built – with honourable exceptions in a few local areas, including social housing in Chelmsley Wood being built by the North Solihull Partnership and affordable homes by Bournville Village Trust in Shenley Green.

In Solihull Council’s 2012 site assessment, Lowbrook Farm and Tidbury Green Farm land was excluded from the green belt to meet the long term needs of developers for aspirational housing – not for the needs of those on the housing register. Other sites – some flood-prone – were scheduled for release in a few years’ time. A year later, possibly due to the strong local opposition, the Council’s Local Plan, which was approved by the Government’s Planning Inspector and formally adopted by Solihull Council in early December 2013, included the return of Lowbrook Farm and Tidbury Green Farm land to green belt status.

During early January 2014 a legal challenge, submitted to the High Court, by Gallagher Estates (Lowbrook Farm) and LionCourt Homes (Tidbury Green), succeeded in overturning the Council’s Local Plan.

In May 2014 the High Court found the local plan was flawed and ordered the two large sites in Tidbury Green to be removed from Green Belt. The Council challenged the decision and on 17th December the Court of Appeal dismissed the Council’s case.

greenfield site 4

The greenfield flood-prone site above, has already been covered with ugly, expensive housing described as ‘poky’ by a viewer.

Continued: 2. What hope is there for Birmingham’s Development Plan?


*Nick Mathiason, who frequently writes articles exposing links between the governing hierarchy and wealthy donors, is business correspondent at the Bureau of Investigative Journalism and also works with the Task Force on Financial Integrity and Economic Development. He was previously Business Correspondent at the Guardian and Observer newspapers for 10 years.