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Barwell lifts direction on Birmingham development plan

Words: Huw Morris

The government has lifted its holding direction on Birmingham City Council’s Development Plan, allowing the authority to deliver thousands of homes and jobs.

Planning and housing minister Gavin Barwell lifted the direction, the first to be made under section 145(5) of the Housing and Planning Act 2016, which prevented the plan from progressing pending further investigation into proposals to earmark land in the Sutton Coldfield green belt for housing and jobs.

It was initially approved in April 2016.

The Planner reported in May that a holding notice had been issued on Birmingham’s development plan following a complaint by local MP Andrew Mitchell.

Barwell said the scale of unmet housing demand in Birmingham was “exceptional and possibly unique”, and saw no reason to disagree with a planning inspector’s view that the plan was consistent with national planning policy.

The plan aims to build 51,000 homes, including up to 6,000 at Langley in Sutton Coldfield. The council had promised the new homes will be supported by exemplar infrastructure and facilities plus the “highest standards of design and sustainability” as well as being integrated with the existing community. The plan is expected to be formally adopted early next year.

Birmingham had concluded that 89,000 homes are needed in the next 15 years to tackled the city’s acute housing shortage and growing population. All brownfield land in Birmingham with potential for housing development had been considered under the council’s strategic housing land availability assessment.

Birmingham’s strategic director of economy, Waheed Nazir, welcomed the government’s move.

“Removing the holding direction is an important decision both for the city and the wider UK in terms of our ability to deliver housing growth,” he added.

In October, the government issued a similar direction against Bradford Metropolitan District Council on the adoption of its core strategy amid concerns from Shipley MP Philip Davies over the proposed release of green belt in the Wharfedale area.

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