New figures show growth rate lowest for 10 years
Article by Ruth Longoni
There is widespread opposition to building thousands of new houses on green belt land around Coventry including from the Earlsdon Ward of the Labour Party which overwhelmingly passed a resolution on 22nd January calling on Coventry Council to review its plan to allow building 25,000 new homes, 17,000 on brownfield sites but the rest on green belt land around the city including at Keresley and Eastern Green.
There are also green belt sites at Kings Hill Lane and Stoneleigh Road being built on by Warwickshire District Council and green belt land between Coventry and Kenilworth is being built on.
Climate change and the declared climate emergency, the decline in wildlife and the poor air quality in the city make a review urgent. The council say there is a built-in review next March but meanwhile permissions to developers are being given out.
We should value our green spaces and build more appropriate homes using brownfield sites first.
Plans for housing should avoid increasing urban sprawl, creating unnecessary journeys and traffic congestion with its concomitant threat to air quality and health. At least 20% should be social housing to meet the demands of those most in need.
Currently our housing contributes a massive 14% of the UK’s greenhouse emissions. Houses should be built to zero emission standards so as not to create more problems for the future and the need for retrofitting in a few years’ time.
Coventry along with other authorities put in place a local plan to try to keep some control over speculative building. However, the figures for Coventry’s projected growth rate of 30% compared with 14% in surrounding towns and cities have been contested by many people and there is widespread scepticism over their validity. There should be built in flexibility to reduce numbers if necessary, in line with demand.
Further information has recently come to light about the figures for Coventry’s growth rate.
Andy Street, the West Midlands Mayor has received figures from the Office for National statistics confirming the annual growth rate for Coventry has slowed to 1.3% the lowest for a decade.
On Tuesday 8th September, Cllr. Gary Ridley presented 2 petitions to the council calling for a review of the plans, 2000 signed one supported by Andy Street and Cllr. Ridley and 4,500 another fronted by green belt campaigned Merle Gering. There was no discussion of the petitions at the council meeting, the chair referred them to the ‘appropriate committee.’ So far, I have not been able to ascertain if that is the leader of the Council, cabinet or the cabinet member for housing and communities.
Given the strength of feeling and the need to stop damaging nature that report after report shows is urgent, it is not unreasonable to think that there should be a response from the Council and a long overdue meeting with concerned people and campaigners set up. Their voices should be listened to and the plan should be modified in the light of the recent figures.
As Gary Ridley pointed out in the Telegraph of 7th September, Coventry currently builds around 1,000 – 2,000 homes each year and developers will flock to green field sites. No one is denying that people need homes, but brown field sites should be used first. The plan for the next ten years is for 42,000 homes.
What will be left then of green fields around Coventry?