Lichfield councillors defend proposals to build thousands of new homes

Senior Lichfield councillors have defended proposals to build thousands of new homes in the district in the coming years.

Lichfield District Council House
Lichfield District Council House

Lichfield District Council is set to submit its latest Local Plan to the Planning Inspectorate, along with comments made during a consultation that took place last year.

The document provides a blueprint for future development of the district in the years leading up to 2040. But there have been several objections to the plans from residents concerned about the proposed locations of some developments and impact on infrastructure such as roads.

The authority is aiming for 9,727 new homes in the district over a 22-year period between 2018 and 2040.

Speaking at a cabinet meeting on Tuesday, the council’s deputy leader Iain Eadie said: “People always ask why we are looking at what we’re looking at, why are we allowing the development that we are and why are these areas being looked at? Many people ask the question why do you allow so much housing to come into our district?

“As a council there is a mandatory requirement upon us to allow housing to come forward. That comes down to us from Government.

“We are also required to meet our duty to co-operate with our neighbours where they cannot meet their own housing needs but our own evidence bases identifies that we can assist them because we have the space to do so and it is sustainable for us to do so. We have recognised that in the Local Plan by making provision to say that 2,663 houses could come forward in this plan period to 2040.

“We also know that a great deal of planning permissions are granted but they do not come forward. For that reason we have allowed a buffer to ensure that Lichfield District Council does not end up in a situation whereby it has not allowed for the housing the Government requires us to make provision for to take place, therefore we end up losing control of our planning decisions because of a failure in supply.

“We do not let developers get away with building anything without consequences. We ensure we seek Section 106 contributions – now Community Infrastructure Levy – which effectively for developers is tax on development. We use this money to deliver infrastructure.”

Councillor Angela Lax said: “Accusations have been unfairly made in the press and online that we’re putting plans together to build loads of houses just to get our hands on money for other things. That is not the case.

“We’re very conscious of our responsibilities, but we’re faced with a requirement to set out numbers of houses and the duty to co-operate, which is a legal requirement. If we don’t proceed with it, things will become far more worse for us.”

Councillor Richard Cox said: “I share concerns but we are having to build more houses. There is a national shortage of housing so we are having to play our part as much as any other district.

“I think nobody wants the Green Belt to be used but it may be something we do have to look at if we are to meet the target set by the Government. I acknowledge those consultation responses that are clearly objecting to the plan and I am partly sympathetic towards what they are saying.

“However if we don’t have a plan we are open to applications on whatever land we have got, whether it be brownfield, greenfield or Green Belt. We need policy to ensure we as a district are in control.”

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