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 very poor air quality in the city make a review urgent.
We should value our green spaces and build more appropriate homes, including high rise which can be made suitable for families and consider additional use of brownfield land. Land banking and bringing back empty buildings for housing should also be investigated.
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.
It is to be hoped the Council will take this historic opportunity to think again and put in place a plan that takes account of the climate emergency and the demands of local people.