Wyre Forest can meet its housing need without using green belt
CPRE is challenging the claim that Wyre Forest District Council must use precious green belt to meet its genuine housing need.
As part of its twenty-year plan the council is claiming it needs 6000 new homes a year. But when CPRE commissioned analysis of information provided for the council’s Preferred Option Consultation they found it could be much less.
On the basis of the council’s own analysis CPRE concluded that only 4122 homes are needed, based on the most recent migration and demographic figures for the district. They also say that the council’s own economic analysis suggests this would be sufficient to provide enough economically active people to support the local economy.
The council has already identified 3640 homes on designated sites, but the evidence suggests a further 500 could come forwards on sites the council does not yet know about (technically called windfall sites) and 598 homes may have been missed because of an over-estimation of the vacancy rate.
This would suggest 4738 homes will come forward anyway, a 15% margin above what is needed. This includes developing on the core part of the Lea Castle Hospital site which is in the green belt but elsewhere there would be no need for large scale green belt allocations.
CPRE say it is essential the council reconsiders its position if it is to protect the countryside and avoid urban sprawl. They warn that an oversupply of housing would simply increase the number of people who move out of the conurbation to towns like Kidderminster and commute back in adding to congestion on the roads.
Instead they say the council should concentrate on building the right kind of housing to meet the needs of local people, including specialist housing for the disabled and the growing number of older people likely in the district. At the same time CPRE says they should commit to improving land in enhance the amenity and environment of the green belt to so it can be enjoyed by all.