17th Sep, 2019

Shirley residents protest against the loss of greenbelt land

Felix Nobes 24th Jan, 2018 Updated: 24th Jan, 2018

AN EXPANDING Shirley-based community group reunited to protest against the possible loss of greenbelt land and raise money for dementia services.

The South Solihull Community Group organised a second charity walk around the land which is covered in the draft Local Plan as ‘Allocation 13’.

More than 60 residents braved the ice and snow on Sunday (January 21) to rival the 100 that turned out on the campaign’s first protest walk last month.

They raised a further £60 for the Alzheimer’s Society to add to the £300 they accumulated on their last outing.

Solihull council has received over 1000 signatures already asking for the whole of site 13 to be taken out of the Local Plan, a blueprint for development over the next two decades.

Representatives say there are over 300 signatures to be added to the petition and the numbers are still growing.

The group wants to emphasise the importance of the land to the local community, to dog walkers and people who walk, run or cycle on the green space.

The plans, if given the council go-head, include a potential 600 homes on a stretch from Miller & Carter steakhouse on Tanworth Lane, almost all the way to Bills Lane.

The group says that, should the land be lost forever to the planned building, the residents of South Shirley will have no open space other than the popular Shirley Park which has already been reduced for the Parkgate development.

Sylvia Gardiner of South Solihull Community Group said: “The green belt offers a wonderful location for residents to meet and enjoy the open air.

“Many friendships have been forged while walking this beautiful natural green belt.

“The activity encouraged by using this open space provides a healthier lifestyle for many of the local residents, something our medical professionals and government are trying to encourage.

“We believe Birmingham city has more park land and open spaces than any other city in Europe.

“This has been largely thanks to forward thinking benefactors and companies, such as Cadbury, who fully realised their workforce needed open space for healthy and happy minds.

“We understand the need for housing just as Cadbury did for their workers, and accept people never want it in their backyard.

“We in South Shirley hope that Solihull council considers the need for open space and a more equal balance between these needs and demands for further housing.

“If this land is used there will be no back yard providing recreational space for the residents.”

The draft Local Plan for development over the next two decades is partly a response to a local and national shortage of housing, although campaigners against building on the Greenbelt advocate a brownfield first policy.

A council spokesperson said last month: “The responses to the draft Local Plan consultation recently undertaken will help shape the next version of the plan which is expected to be published in summer/autumn 2018.

“Consultation responses made at that stage will be considered through an independent examination before the plan is adopted.”

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