A SOLIHULL village will be ‘turned into a town’ under the borough’s new local plan.
Balsall Common is likely to accommodate more than 2,000 new homes and a high proportion of Solihull’s social housing need – some 40 per cent – despite having only a tiny need itself.
This could lead to people being relocated to the village far from their place of employment, friends and family, says Andrew Burrow, chair of Balsall Common Parish Council and member of Berkswell Parish Council.
“Balsall Common is the most car dependent area in Solihull – that’s from the borough council’s own study – and its not well served by public transport, so you will be creating lots of traffic,” he said.
“There is a huge need for social housing in the borough, but of the people here, only half a per cent need social housing, so you will be taking people from other areas and offering them homes miles away.
“It seems crazy.”
Also under threat is the Green Belt and Solihull’s very own motto – ‘Urbs in Rure’ – the town in the country.
The plan, which is designed to show housing provision up to 2036, will require some 574 hectares of land (1,400 acres) to be taken out of the Green Belt.
Some of that land – 140 hectares – would be be taken out of the Green Belt anyway for the the HS2 Interchange and associated parking.
However Coun Burrows says with the bulk of the development for Balsall Common taking place on the east side, and Coventry building on its west side at Burton Green, the Meriden Gap separating the two was under threat.
“They will be building at what is the narrowest point of the Meriden Gap and Coventry is building the other way,” said Coun Burrow.
“You’d have thought will all the disruption of HS2 taking place they might have left us alone.
“For me the destruction of the Green Belt at its narrowest stretch when it is already under pressure is a price simply not worth paying.
“We won’t be a village anymore, we will be a town.
“My personal priority and I know my colleagues feel the same, is that if this goes through then I will work my socks off to make sure Balsall Common remains a good place to live for both the old established community and the new residents.”
On the issue of social housing in Balsall Common, a Council spokesperson said: “Housing needs cannot always be met where they arise, so use has to be made of the development opportunities that become available.
“This means that any development may need to provide affordable homes for needs arising in another part of the borough.”
The plan went before the Cabinet at Solihull Borough Council last night, Thursday, October 1.