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SoS questioned over Birmingham plan decision

Published: Thursday, 1st December 2016

Javid defends decision to withdraw the holding direction on the Birmingham Development Plan that is proposing to build 51,000 homes in the city, including in some green belt locations…

This week in the Commons Communities Secretary Sajid Javid was forced to defend his decision last week to lift the holding direction which had halted progress on the Birmingham Development Plan because of green belt concerns.

The Secretary of State was put on the spot on Monday afternoon during oral questions to Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) ministers. He was confronted by Conservative backbencher Andrew Mitchell, the MP for Sutton Coldfield.

Mitchell had spearheaded the call for intervention by the DCLG because the plan proposed the release of green belt land in his constituency.

Mitchell told Javid that his constituents were “angry and disappointed” over the DCLG move and warned of legal action.

The former government chief whip also accused the Communities Secretary of reneging on Party policy.

“Does he realise that this is a breach of the Conservative party’s election manifesto and his own words from just a few weeks ago?” said Mitchell.

Javid replied “The government placed a hold on the Birmingham local plan precisely because they value the green belt: it is very, very special.

“However, when a local community has come forward with a robust plan, has looked at all the alternatives, has considered its housing needs and has prioritised brownfield sites, and when the independent planning inspectorate has said that the plan conforms to all the rules and regulations, the government have no valid reason to stand in the way.”

Removal of the Direction means the 15-year strategy to deliver thousands of new homes and jobs can be formally adopted and approved by Birmingham City Council.

The BDP sets out proposals to address the city’s housing crisis by building 51,000 homes in Birmingham, including at Langley in Sutton Coldfield at a green belt location. The BDP is expected to be formally adopted by Birmingham City Council early next year.

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Roger Milne