23rd Sep, 2018

Council presses ahead with affordable homes plans despite residents' opposition

Felix Nobes 13th Sep, 2018 Updated: 13th Sep, 2018

SOLIHULL council is pressing ahead with plans to build new ‘affordable’ houses in the north of the borough – despite some 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.

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

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

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

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

A campaign has been launched to prevent its loss, calling for other areas of the borough to be used for essential house building.

Leader of the council, Bob Sleigh, condemned the campaign at a cabinet meeting last Thursday (September 6).

He said people cannot have it both ways when it comes to building houses and preserving green space.

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 – both for social rent.

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

Cabinet agreed in principle to a borrowing package of £6.2million – and a deadline to apply for funding has been extended.

It is understood that if more funding is granted another 41 houses could be built.

Some of these extra houses could be built on two garage sites in the south of the borough and one in the north.

Smith’s Wood Green councillor Mark Wilson said: “Smith’s Wood is a densely populated area.

“There are 56 people per hectare in Smith’s Wood but the Solihull average is 11, with some rural areas in the south down to 4.

“Solihull council is building the right kind of housing in the wrong areas.

“School place provision is very much stretched in the north; traffic pollution emissions will be increased, road infrastructure will struggle with more cars, public transport is largely patchy and much loved and valuable green space lost.

“As a result, the residents across the ward are angry about more building on the few spaces left.”

The council’s intention to ‘dispose of these areas of public open space land’ was discussed in July and public consultation will be considered before any decision.

The funds, once allocated, could be delivered through the North Solihull Partnership and WM Housing Group – an ‘affordable’ housing provider.

Coun Sleigh said: “We are trying to provide homes for people in the borough – many at great need – in places they want to live.

“But it is extremely frustrating to find ourselves faced with campaigns from people objecting to us trying to find land to build houses on and then criticising us in turn for not being able to provide social housing.

“Some parties in this authority want it both ways – and quite frankly, you can’t do that.

“There is a shortfall of homes for social rent in this borough and we do need to make that short fall up.

“And this goes some way to doing that.”

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