Almost all those who attend our group meetings (usually held at Bromsgrove) represent Parish Councils within the district.
We would welcome more members coming to our meetings. I find the burden of looking after planning issues in two districts to be a significant one and would welcome assistance, for example in monitoring what planning applications are made, and drawing the significant ones to my attention, so that I can concentrate effort on them. At present, this and other voluntary activities are taking more of my time than I wish, so that I may need to draw back from some of them. This will again give me time for my historical research and writing, which is my work, but has had to take a backseat of late.
We have had several large planning applications within the district, some of which are still pending; others have been refused or withdrawn. Some have been for affordable housing in villages, which we do not oppose where a need can be shown. but the social landlords have sometimes relied on misleading data from the Housing List. ln the absence of Local Need, we see no grounds for building.
In summer 2011, an appeal relating to a Green Belt site at Wythall was dismissed, which means that the Green Belt remains sacrosanct for the moment, but the shortage of housing land in the district means that a Green Belt review is inevitable within a few years. In the meantime, what were designated as Areas of Development Restraint are getting planning consent. So far this has applied to sites at Wythall, Alvechurch, Catshill, and land east of the railway near Aston Fields.
The next major event will be the publication of the Final Draft Core Strategy, which is currently expected to be published in October with a six-week consultation period. I expect to submit many comments and objections to this on behalf of CPRE.
We have provided funding to one parish council (with the support to two others) to undertake research into housing needs in the district.
Dr Peter King