A meeting of Council Leaders from across the Greater Birmingham and Black Country area on Tuesday 20th February 2018 has agreed to the publication of an important technical study into where housing growth in and around the conurbation might be accommodated in the future.
“Councillor Phil Bateman asked “if the study had come to any conclusions about Wednesfield or the Green Belt surrounding Essington. The information I received was that The Study does not propose any strategic growth locations which affect the Wednesfield or Essington areas.”
The commissioning of the study – by consultants GL Hearn and Wood- was agreed in December 2016. This followed early work that sought to respond to the shortfall in land to accommodate Birmingham’s housing growth as well as emerging evidence on the likely scale of housing growth for the Black Country. The study reflects Government policy that authorities should cooperate in planning positively to seek to meet needs across their Housing Market Area (HMA, the area within which households are likely to move). The study has covered 14 authorities across Birmingham, the Black Country and surrounding areas. It came to the conclusion that thre should be about 250,000homes by 2036. There is however a short fall of land available that would equate to about 60,000 homes.
The study has taken the following steps.
It has considered the extent to which increases in densities on existing and emerging sites might increase the capacity for new homes and help to reduce the shortfall. Then the study has considered the capacity for major new developments firstly beyond and then within the West Midlands Green Belt. This produced a list of 24 broad locations for potential development, with 11 of these identified for priority analysis. As a strategic piece of work, the study focuses on major developments. It is important to recognise that such developments (and the locations for them) might not meet all of the area’s needs. All authorities will have consider how their housing needs might best be accommodated.
Whilst the study raises important challenges, it is a study and does not make policies.
That will be for the Councils through their Local Plans. The mechanism for the Black Country is the Review of the Black Country Core Strategy. That has been through its first round of consultation and officers are presently considering the representations received. The next stage will be for the authorities to compile their own up-to-date evidence and this will be brought together with the HMA study to help determine next steps. The process will proceed in stages with Cabinet decisions at each stage, and with other wider Member involvement and public consultation.
The full study will be published on the Black Country Core Strategy dedicated website; found here http://blackcountrycorestrategy.dudley.gov.uk/