Fears sparked over green belt land in Burntwood
Green belt campaigners claim council chiefs will be “unable” to resist developers from using countryside.
Farmers fields, off Coulter Lane, Nether Lane, Rugeley Road and Church Lane, in Burntwood, will be taken out of the green belt – and put into the “safeguarded” land category – under Lichfield District Council’s draft proposals.
Safeguarded land means the area is protected but could be used in future, unlike green belt which is fully protected.
The Burntwood Action Group (BAG) say this would pave the move for developers to come in and build homes, with a total of 400 needed across the town as per the plans.
But chiefs at Lichfield District Council have hit back, saying the land – if the draft proposals went ahead – would not be open for development, with any planning application refused.
The protection would only change if Burntwood Town Council wished to see it developed, or a future review of the plan could not identify anywhere else for housing – then the land would be considered.
David Rathband, a member of (BAG), said: “We’ve been told once this land is taken out of the green belt it becomes vulnerable.
“We’re pleased the councillors came and stood up, in front of us, and said what they said, but we don’t believe they will be able to resist the national developers once it’s removed from the green belt.
“The people of Burntwood are clearly unhappy and they’ve demonstrated that they are upset.
“It’s not only the people who attend it’s people who visit our Facebook site – it’s growing exponentially.
“The action and the reaction alone tells you the people of Burntwood would be very unhappy with the council should this land be taken from the green belt.”
A meeting was held at St Matthew’s Sports and Social Club in the town, with representatives from the district council, Burntwood Town Council, BAG and residents turning out for it.
Campaigners say Burntwood is already “too big” for its current infrastructure already, with the loss of the land “destroying” the rural setting of the town.
A total of 58 ‘representations’ have been received relating to the piece of land in Burntwood, the council has said.
The proposals can be viewed at www.lichfielddc.gov.uk/localplan2040
People can have their say by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by writing to Spatial Policy and Delivery, District Council House, Frog Lane, Lichfield, WS13 6YZ.
'No plans afoot for green belt'
Lichfield District Council’s deputy leader has ruled out development on land off Coulter Lane, despite plans to take it out of the green belt.
The land, which campaigners fear will be used for housing, will be instead classified as “safeguarded” land.
Councillor Iain Eadie, cabinet member for investment, economic growth and tourism, said: “I would like make it clear that we are not proposing any development take place on the land at Coulter Lane and we would not grant planning permission for any development there.
“While our preferred options document does identify land at Coulter Lane in Burntwood as one of three areas that we believe should be areas of safeguarded land, myself and the leader of council stressed that this land will not be released for development unless or until a future review of the local plan identifies it is as needed for development, or where a neighbourhood plan proposes it for development.
“We understand the strength of feeling from residents and their wish to see brownfield sites used for housing development rather than any green belt land.
The public meeting did show differing attitudes among residents with some wishing to see the likes of the blue hoarding site come forward for housing, rather than any town centre use, whereas others did want to see the objective of growing the town centre maintained.
“Burntwood Action Group gave a presentation highlighting a number of parcels of land around Burntwood and why they felt they were at risk of development. Except for the land at Coulter Lane all the other sites are and remain green belt.
“In terms of the land at Coulter Lane, we need to make sure our local plan remains sound after this review and that is why we believe we need to treat it as safeguarded land.
“I would once again like to reassure everyone that we are not proposing that any development take place on the land at Coulter Lane.”