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Affordable housing plans for green space in Smith's Wood deferred amid opposition

Felix Nobes 16th Oct, 2018 Updated: 17th Oct, 2018

‘AFFORDABLE’ housing plans for two areas of Smith’s Wood green space have been deferred amid opposition from residents.

Three areas of green space have been earmarked for a £6.2million scheme to build 60 social houses, which could rise to over 100.

Two of the three green spaces allocated for development are in Smith’s Wood ward.

The council had previously hailed the bid as a step towards reducing the borough’s ‘affordable’ housing shortfall.

But the decision was deferred in a Solihull council cabinet meeting last week, dividing the chamber.

Green Party councillors say, while they support social housing in principle, Smith’s Wood residents are upset at the loss of vital green space.

Shirley councillor Tim Hodgson, addressing the meeting, said: “Now that the sites in North Solihull have been deferred (excellent decision), can I ask that you take another look at garage sites in the south of the borough so that you avoid building on these green spaces?

“There are no doubt other viable brownfield sites you could develop in the south elsewhere.

“We are hugely keen to build more social and affordable housing across the borough, but as councillor Burn rightly echoed from government, we need the right houses in the right places.”

Smith’s Wood is the borough’s poorest and most densely populated area and there is already a shortage of green community space, Green councillors say.

Councillors at the cabinet meeting called into question the effectiveness of the consultation exercise carried out before the plans went to cabinet last month.

Green leader James Burn said the process had not been taken seriously and much of the opposition from residents had been ignored.

There were over 100 objections expressed from residents, he says.

Solihull is one of 75 local authorities outside London which is eligible to apply for more money to spend on housing projects.

The council is set to approach Homes England for additional funds.

Plans for Anglesey Avenue, Smith’s Wood, include 17 houses and plans for Auckland Drive, Smith’s Wood, comprise 36 apartments.

Another seven bungalows could be built on Faulkner Road in Lyndon.

Coun Alison Rolf, cabinet member for stronger communities and partnerships, said: “We do need to be seen as open and transparent, otherwise we will get complaints for residents. Perhaps rightly so in some cases.

But I did go to look at these sites last year and I did indicate that they were suitable for building on, on the basis that we are desperately short of housing. We do need green space but we also need housing.”

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