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Further Building Plans for Dickens Heath Parish – Please Give Us Your Views

Update on Solihull MBC’s Final Draft Local Plan Proposals for Dickens Heath

The latest information on the Solihull Local Plan Review can be seen at https://www.solihull.gov.uk/lpr and we expect the Consultation will be open to early December 2020. The Parish Council would like to take residents’ views into account in their response. Please forward your comments to the Parish Council, preferably by October 31st 2020 and by Sunday November 8th 2020 at the very latest – either by email to dickensheathpc@hotmail.com or through the letterbox at the Library.

After five years in the making Solihull Council have finalised their Local Plan Proposals for a Final Public Consultation. This will be for a six week period starting shortly and expected to run into early December 2020. The proposed concept plans have been available on the SMBC website since 20th September and run to a huge bundle of pages which are summarised below as they impact on Dickens Heath.

· The consultation has been approved by Solihull Council and takes account of all representations previously submitted, which have resulted in a number of significant changes – reducing the housing numbers in the Dickens Heath Parish by 50% from 1300 homes to 650 homes on two designated sites.

· The Plan Period runs to 2036 and housing numbers are now fixed, including the additional homes Solihull must provide to meet the shortfall in the wider Housing Management Area (Birmingham)

· The consultation is restricted to more technical issues of the concept plan’s soundness or legality and will not reconsider objections previously submitted as they have already been reviewed – any minor or technical oversights arising from the consultation will be amended before the plans are submitted to the Secretary of State.

· Any proposed significant changes, such as the withdrawal of a Plan Site, the Council argue would result in a further redraft and new consultation process – causing delays that would put Solihull at risk of more onerous housing numbers and losing control of the planning process – as it would not have an approved local plan or the required five year supply of housing land that allows it to control planning applications.

· Solihull does not have brownfield sites to meet numbers required and has to release Green Belt which it has selected after identifying previously developed sites and lower grade less harmful land.

Local Changes made through the earlier consultation process:

· Land west of Dickens Heath Village – was site 4 now BL1, is the most contentious area covering the sports grounds off Tythe Barn Lane and land across to the canal, reduced from 700 to 350 homes.

· Edge of Parish – site 13 south of Shirley for 600 homes has been withdrawn and replaced by a proposed planted woodland public amenity area on three fields owned by SMBC. This is important as the proposed access was onto the B3102 junction at Millar & Carter’s traffic island. The lost housing has been replaced by new site 26 now BL2 for 300 homes at Whitlocks End Farm (Xmas Tree Farm) as part replacing site 13 with access now onto Bills Lane.

Previous Main Objections to 2019 Consultation included:

· Site 4 now BL1 – retention of existing woodlands and hedgerows and the permanent provision of replacement sports ground facilities within the site 4 area for Highgate United FC, Leafield FC and Old Yardlians Rugby Football Club.

· Site 26 now BL3 – no objections but recommended reduction from 300 homes to 250.

Other observations:

· Parking Improvements in Dickens Heath Village Centre – there is a reference to a provision of appropriate off-street parking to be considered in Dickens Heath which will be followed up in the response.

· This consultation relates to the selected housing site locations – further detailed information on the infrastructure provision including studies covering traffic etc. will be published shortly. Details on related aspects on school places have been addressed and the NHS provision for healthcare is still ongoing with the Birmingham & Solihull Clinical Commissioning Group.