Defending the green belt: Joy as Solihull planners stand firm - The Solihull Observer

Defending the green belt: Joy as Solihull planners stand firm

Solihull Editorial 28th May, 2021   0

“THE thin end of the wedge is getting thicker and our concerns are that in allowing this incursion it will not be the end.”

Parish Councillor Richard Cobb could have been speaking for everyone in Solihull when he addressed borough planners last week, minutes before they threw out plans to construct 385 parking spaces – 291 of them on the green belt – opposite Blackfirs Lane in Marston Green.

Mark McFadden, speaking for the applicant, Jaguar Land Rover supplier IAC, had earlier told the planning committee the parking was needed to manage IAC’s shift system, that the expansion would support 1,140 full time jobs and that refusal could redirect IAC’s growth away from Solihull.

But Coun Cobb said the plans, which were earmarked for refusal by council officers, were completely out of step with the times.

“Increasing the parking provision appears to be a backward step in terms of alternative modes of usage and sustainability,” he said.

His words were endorsed by local borough councillor Alison Rolf, portfolio holder for stronger and safer communities, who pointed out there was plenty of parking at the nearby Birmingham Business Park and that IAC should be encouraging its staff to use greener modes of transport.

Noting the units opposite Blackfirs Lane had only been built in 2016 and the Green belt opposite had been declared ‘sacrosanct’, she said: “IAC took over the units in 2019 knowing the size and space inside and out.

“They now claim they need extra parking.”

She reminded the committee that incursions into the green belt could only be made ‘under very special circumstances’ and, branding the application as ‘unacceptable’ said these had not been met.

Borough councillors agreed and threw the plans out.

The news was met with delight by local residents, who had organised a petition more than 1,000 strong against the proposals.

One, Pat Preece said: “It’s unbelievable, we’re just so relieved.

“That green belt has meant so much, particularly in these awful times, a place to walk and explore, and for children too and dog walkers.

“It’s something special.”

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