Category Archives: Updates

Save the Green Belt!

Save our Meriden Gap

The beautiful Warwickshire countryside, all around Coventry, is in grave danger of being covered over with thousands of houses – at Kings Hill, Eastern Green, Keresley, Allesley, Cromwell Lane, Westwood Heath, and more. Our green lungs and farmland are at risk. During the 2016 Local Plan process Coventry Council took this land out of Green Belt, and allocated it for housing, on the basis of population figures now being questioned by the Office of Statistics Regulation. We are monitoring the OSR very closely and will use the reports to influence future housing policy.

Our first legal battle has commenced in the Planning Court 15 July.

URGENT FUNDING NEEDED TO SUPPORT THE CASE

The Crowdfunding Page
https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/save-our-green-belt-coventry/

In June Coventry granted planning consent for mixed use housing at Eastern Green and urgent action is now needed to fund legal proceedings to halt development from proceeding. The claim was brought by The Campaign to Protect Rural England Warwickshire.

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More precious green land and biodiversity lost for ever

This article was written by Ann Wilson, Objector on behalf of Coventry Tree Wardens.

Having sacrificed the beautiful Windmill golf course to housing at their last meeting, the Planning Committee has now given over the last bit of important open green space on London Road to developers.

On 2 September they completely ignored the pleas of 3 local councillors and 6 residents, including local tree wardens, who were desperate to retain this land as public open space for the health and well-being of local people as well as all the wildlife that lives there. Trees, hedges, shrubbery and a wildflower meadow, all of which take up water, absorb pollution, store carbon and help prevent climate change will now be lost, including a woodland planted by the Council.

The biodiversity on this site is irreplaceable.

Many issues in the officers reports were questioned. All the objectors stated that the housing numbers exceeded those in the Local Plan, but were told they were not maximum figures. Air quality and biodiversity questions remained unanswered and flooding also was of little concern, even thought the proposed building is on a flood plain. Extra traffic, it was said, would not affect one of the worst congested roundabouts in Coventry.

So, the Council will make a bit of money destroying this beautiful land, but at what cost to the health of local people and the health of our planet?

And to quote one of the other objectors, “They seem to be in complete denial of climate change.”

Tamworth Road/Fivefield Road

A reminder that residents have received notification from Bellway Homes representatives Marrons Planning telling them they propose to apply to Coventry City Council later this year for full planning approval for 550 houses in Tamworth Road/Fivefield Road.

They are asking for comments on their proposals via the website www.landatkeresley.co.uk or by e-mailing keresley@marrons-planning.co.uk before the closing date of 23rd August.

Please lodge your comments before then, some points to consider:

  • Traffic assessments were undertaken in 2016 prior to Amazon/Lyons Park opening in late 2018. The traffic assessments only take into account 1250 dwellings of the 3200 planned for Keresley. They do not include 3200 dwellings planned for the neighbouring Eastern Green development either. The accident report states ‘No Major incidents’. In 2020 there were five major incidents on the Tamworth Road alone requiring the emergency services including two fatalities.
  • As yet no school provider is approved for the Free school. No plans are approved or submitted for the building of this school either. It is of paramount importance that residents have a school provided and this should be in place prior to occupation (which commences with the Wimpey development).
  • Final route and plans for the Link Road have yet to be completed. There is also no indication this link road is as yet fully funded and no start date or completion date planned. Similarly with the proposed junction in Sandpits Lane.
  • Guidelines state that bus stops should be located within 400m of a dwelling. There are no plans for a bus route into the Fivefield Road development and no assurances of proposed implementation of a bus service for Tamworth Road (currently 3 buses per day and no Sunday service). Distances to local amenities, G.P. service, school and shops are not within walking distance.
  • Public Footpaths were proposed to be re-routed. Footpath M315 cuts through the intended Link Road. To ensure safety of cyclists and pedestrians there should be a bridge constructed.
  • Ancient Woods are a fragile area that will not survive heavy disturbance. The Warwickshire Biodiversity Team assessment states ‘Large scale housing in the area would be detrimental to the site. This remains one of the most biodiverse and attractive pockets of land within Coventry, with the woodland habitat among the best in Warwickshire.’ The developers have proposed a 15m buffer to the woods, CCC have suggested a further 10m with planting. The Warwickshire Wildlife recommends 50m and the Woodland Trust a minimum of 50m and preferably 100m.
  • Both the developers experts, Sylvan and White Peak, have expressed concerns over the change in water flow to the woods which they say could have a detrimental effect. The Warwickshire Diversity Team have also expressed concerns over drainage which could seriously damage the health of the woods. Developers are planning a balance pool between the woods which could further restrict the water flow.

Do we need all these extra houses – NO

Do we need housing on the perimeter of a city which will necessitate car usage – NO

Do we need expensive executive housing in lieu of housing for young families – NO

Do we consider the designs for the houses on the proposed Bellway development in keeping with the Arden landscape design criteria –NO

Are we prepared to stand for the disrespect the developers have shown to the importance of the ancient woods and trees they are prepared to sacrifice – NO

Windmill Green Planning Application

An application for up to 566 dwellings to be built on Windmill Green in Eastern Green will go before the planning committee next week. We would strongly advise residents to lodge objections to this, many of the issues raised with the applications covering the Keresley SUE are similar with the Eastern Green SUE. Please send your objections to planning@coventry.gov.uk and Owain Williams Owain.Williams@coventry.gov.uk quoting OUT/2020/2009 (Windmill Green) on or before Monday 02/08.

Please see below a list of suggested topics you can cover/include:

1) It is premature to make a decision until the outcome of the current legal challenge which would reverse the permission for Hallam because this site relies entirely on access and all other amenities enabled by the Hallam development scheme.

2) The Local Plan allocation for 2,250 dwellings in the Eastern Green SUE has already been substantially exceeded with recent consents for 2,579 (+14%). The proposed dwellings of this Application are not required to meet projected population growth.

3) The UKSA and current ONS Review is stated to “support the appropriate use of the existing data” and thereby does have an immediate implication for the Local Plan housing figures which is in direct contrast to the Council’s mis-interpretation.

4) Existing brownfield sites are capable of matching the present entire housing growth of Coventry for at least the next 5 years and this been disregarded by the Council in their calculations.

5) Crucially, completion of the Strategic Housing Needs Assessment recently commissioned is needed before any further large developments such as this site are approved.

6) All traffic modelling fails to take account of other major developments both in and around the Coventry area, for instance the HS2 Interchange and additional congestion on the A45 and other major routes through Coventry is inevitable.

7) The development proposal fails to reflect climate change and the new regularity for flooding affecting the numerous watercourses both on site and upstream/downstream.

8) There is immense support across Coventry for the retention of the golf course as supported by Sport England but their formal Objection has been simply dismissed. This sports facility is extremely popular and increasingly busy and at the Local Plan Examination a report instigated by the land owner that it is “surplus to requirements” was aimed entirely at the prospect of future development.

9) The adverse impact of losing an important and strategically located sports amenity demonstrably outweighs the benefit of granting consent for unnecessary dwellings. “Demonstrable harm” is a valid reason for refusal according to paragraph 11d of the NPPF.

Thompsons Road/Bennetts Road Planning Committee

Please object to 500 homes off Thompsons Road, Keresley OUT/2019/0484

Deadline Wed 12 noon 26th May (the planning committee will decide on Thursday 27 May)

Send your comments to

planning@coventry.gov.uk

dean.leadon@coventry.gov.uk

Give this reference: 500 homes off of Thompsons Road Keresley OUT/2019/0484

Points you may wish to include:

  1. The homes are not needed.
    1. There is enough brownfield left for 10 years at current rates of building. The council should now put on hold all planning decisions relating to former green belt land.
    2. The evidence for removing this land from green belt has collapsed. The Office of Statistics Regulation [OSR], on 10 May 2021, found that the population forecasts, were “inconsistent with local data and potentially too high”. In plain language, it means that there has been no sign of extra school admissions, additional A&E attendance, extra gas and electric usage, more pensions or voters, more births, more deaths, more waste in domestic bins, than there has been in the past, when growth was just average. The detail is well known to the council.
    3. In her report, Rebecca Phillips, the local plan inspector cited “significant growth” [para 106] as the “exceptional circumstance”, to justify removing land from green belt. Following the OSR report, there is no evidence of “significant growth” and no reason to remove the land from green belt.
    4. The correct course of action is return this land to green belt, as Leeds City Council is currently doing, at the direction of the High Court, in response to reduced 2016 population projections.
    5. The council should place all planning decisions on former green belt on hold, until ONS revises the population projections and estimates, as OSR have instructed ONS. ONS is required to present a plan of action by July 2021.
    6. In the alternative, the council should put all decisions about former green belt, on hold, until March 2022, when the census will give reliable figures for Coventry.
  2. Building homes on the outskirts of Coventry is unsustainable.
    1. Homes on the fringes have 2 to 4 times the carbon footprint of city centre dwellings. Building here, with its greater carbon footprint, , is contrary to the Council declaration of a climate emergency in 2020.
    2. The transport assessments are unsound. There is no evidence that 10% of the residents will switch to bikes, walking and buses. Council officers can cite only one case in England where a modal shift like this has occurred, at Northstowe in Cambridgeshire and that is not comparable to Keresley – it’s a new town, with dedicated cycleways, and a guided busway. No rapid transit is remotely possible on Bennetts Road or the Tamworth Road, and the area is far too hilly to expect commuters to cycle to work or schools.
    3. The standard used to assess the transport effects of development, the IEMA 1993 guidance, is invalid – it does not apply, in its own words, to matters of “highway capacity or operation.” It is far too lenient; effects less than 30% are not considered significant. Official transport guidance in Northern Ireland and Scotland considers even a 1% increase can be significant on busy roads.
    4. Much of the development will be more than 400 m from the nearest bus stop, contrary to the requirements of the local plan. Some homes will be 800 m from a bus stop.
    5. Coventry Council has obstructed residents obtaining relevant traffic modelling at Winding House Lane, Ricoh Arena, and J3 M6 – We are unable to effectively participate in assessing the traffic effects, contrary to the Aarhus Convention – currently the roads are already “severely” congested in the mornings, especially at J3 according to Highways England and a new traffic profile will potentially emerge across the NW quarter of the city once the Keresley Link is completed.
  3. These homes will wreak grievous harm onto the Ancient Arden landscape.
    1. Coventry Council pronounced, in their own 1995 landscape guidance, [This area is] “especially significant as it is now the only remaining relatively unspoilt area of ancient countryside remaining in Warwickshire”
    2. The development will ruin the view from the Ancient Monument – a Roman hill fort and stone age encampment – at the top of Corley Rocks. – see picture below.
  4. This development will damage the adjacent ancient woodlands, Bunson’s Wood.
    1. Woodland Trust guidance recommends a 50m buffer, and in the case of major developments, like this one, 100m. The Natural England standing guidance also recommends a broader buffer for larger developments. Their 15 m recommendation applies only to root protection and similarly requires greater protection for larger developments. Need for greater protection was not adequately considered. .
    2. Biodiversity will decline.
      • Prowling cats, and dogs will exterminate ground nesting birds. Pet excreta will over fertilise the soil, giving rise to nettles buttercups, docks and other coarse species, at the expense of fragile woodland flora – like wood anemones, wood sorrel, yellow archangel, opposite leaved saxifrage, dogs mercury, hemp agrimony etc.
      • Pets and the wind will bring seeds of coarse invasive species into the woods from gardens. (dock, mares tail, burdock, dandelion, buttercups, )
      • Badgers, a protected species, will leave the area, reducing significant biodiversity.
      • 13 Specialist farmland birds in the area, of particular interest to Natural England, have severely declined since 1970, and will lose habitat. Skylarks, lapwings, tree sparrows and yellow hammer will not live in a suburb.
      • Fly-tipping, and littering inevitably will increase, particularly in the ancient woodland.

A picture taken from the Corley Hill Fort, has clear visibility of the land behind Thompsons Road.