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Birmingham Green Belt at Risk in Flawed Consultation

4th December 2022

Green Belt in the West Midlands is at risk following a flawed consultation that should have offered the public genuine alternatives to the inflated Government figures that exaggerate the shortfall of housing in the city.

In its response to the Issues and Options consultation for the new Birmingham Plan, CPRE West Midlands says the public should have been given options for more realistic housing needs.

The Council claims it needs to build 7,136 homes every year for the next 20 years, based on the Government’s Standard Formula. However, that is 3 times the most up-to-date measure of genuine housing need (2,388 homes each year) and, even before the Plan begins, includes 29,646 households which simply do not exist, according to the recent 2021 Census.

This includes the Council inflating the numbers by 35% increase just to meet the Government’s political housing target, a bolt-on which other city councils, such as Bristol, are openly challenging. Even Birmingham’s own consultants have told them there is a case for lower numbers.

At the same time, CPRE say Birmingham has failed to adequately account for the number of new homes on brownfield sites.

Despite consistently building 1500 of these so called ‘windfall homes’ a year, they have only included 600 in their calculations, drastically underestimating the likely level of actual new housebuilding over the next 20 years.

CPRE’s own research suggests that the claim that Birmingham needs to fill a shortfall of 78,415 houses is deeply flawed and that the true shortfall could be much lower and may not actually exist at all.

And CPRE warns that the effect of these bloated housing figures would not be to deliver much needed affordable housing in the city, but instead could result in a boom in expensive car-dependent Green Belt housing on the edge of Birmingham, where it would be harder to reach hospitals, schools and shops, thus increasing both sprawl and carbon emissions.

Peter King, Vice-Chair of CPRE West Midlands, said: “We are deeply concerned that Birmingham Council has presented the Government’s housing targets as if they were on tablets of stone. They have asked people to consider options for housing in the city but effectively tied their hands behind their backs. It’s clear there are, and will be, many more brownfield sites that can meet genuine housing need in the city where it is needed.”

CPRE is now calling on the council to reconsult on whether a lower level of housing would be more sustainable and in line with up-to-date evidence, as well as giving people a genuine choice when responding to the consultation.

Find out more

You can find the letter to Birmingham City Council here, and the supporting detailed technical report commissioned from Gerald Kells here.

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