Meeting with councillors

We are pleased to report that we had a constructive meeting yesterday with County Councillor’s Sue Woodward & Helen Fisher. We discussed protection of the Green Belt around Burntwood, development ideas for Sankey’s Corner, easy access to Chasewater, responsibility for parks, opening of the railway line between Brownhills and Lichfield as a walkway/cycleway and health care provision.

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We are pleased to confirm that there is now an opportunity for everyone to see the new Local Plan for Lichfield District, which will be used to shape how Lichfield & Burntwood will be developed up until 2036.
Plans are available in reception at LDC offices in Frog Lane and the Friary Centre in Lichfield and also at Burntwood Leisure Centre and Burntwood Library. Or you can go online to read the plan and give your views if you go to:
MOST IMPORTANTLY for Burntwood residents & businesses we all have the opportunity to meet the planners at a drop in session at Burntwood Library on Saturday the 9th of February between 10am – 2pm.
Please take this opportunity to meet the decision makers, see the concepts and ensure that Lichfield District Council understand how interested and concerned the people of Burntwood are regarding the development of their district.

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Further to our Facebook post earlier this week (9th of January) regarding modifications to the Lichfield District Council Local Plan Allocations document – which is in relation to housing and employment – we can now further update you on the guidance given by Mr Mike Fox the independent inspector following his review in September last year:
Lichfield District Council have been advised to:
Account for local housing needs AND that of the Greater Birmingham & Black Country Housing Market Area – including the unmet needs of Tamworth & Birmingham.
Conduct a comprehensive Green Belt review to consider whether further Green Belt release is needed to accommodate new development in the District
Conduct a comprehensive view of employment land requirements in the district.
There are significant reasons for concern for the residents of Burntwood regarding these proposed modifications.
Firstly, the need to consider helping to meet the housing needs of authorities in Greater Birmingham & the Black Country Housing Market Area is based on a Duty to Co-operate policy which all neighbouring councils must consider should a nearby council claim that they have insufficient capacity to accommodate their own shortfalls.
In summary this means that LDC will probably have to increase the number of new homes than they were originally planning for the District.
Secondly a comprehensive Green Belt review in effect means ‘look at which Green Belt can be released to accommodate new build homes’.
This is extremely concerning as Burntwood Action Group are now aware that developers have been in discussion with LDC regarding Green Belt land at Bleak House Farm – land near Kingsdown Road, Duke Road & Ironstone Road in Burntwood. We are currently seeking clarification as to the extent of those discussions and we will keep you updated.

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Help For The High Street

Please see below an excerpt from a recent BBC report on the regeneration of the High Street.
‘Britain has twice as many shops as it needs, according to the author of a report looking at how to revive the nation’s High Streets.
Retailer Sir John Timpson said local councils must be given more money to turn town centres into communities and meeting places.
Sir John told the BBC revival should be a “bottom up” job, with councils taking the lead.
“People should be allowed to get on and do it themselves,” he said.
Sir John, a member of the founding-family of shoe repair and key-cutting business Timpson, said each town centre needed to establish a task force to address issues such as planning. He said “planning must be made simpler and quicker”.’
The report wants the £675m already announced in the Budget for High Street improvements to be spent at the local level to improve public spaces and transport links.
Sir John told BBC Breakfast that reviving High Streets and town centres was not just about shopping. “It’s about communities and creating a hub for entertainment, medical facilities, housing. We probably have about twice as many shops as we need. But we are short of housing”.’
Burntwood Action Group believe that Sankeys Corner falls exactly into the category described above and have already set out such a scheme in their vision for a better Burntwood, which both BTC and LDC are well aware of.
We have further urged BTC to investigate this funding initiative and to make an application for funds at the earliest opportunity.
We will continue to press both local councils to ensure that this opportunity is pursued with vigour.

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Developers and landowners beware…

Please see below an interesting article recently reported in the national press…

‘LANDOWNERS could be stripped of large portions of their profits from selling sites, under proposals expected to be unveiled in the Budget.

An official review commissioned by Philip Hammond, the Chancellor, is understood to endorse controversial calls for the state to “capture” more of the increase in value of sites when they are granted planning permission.

Sir Oliver Letwin, the former minister carrying out the review, is expected to say that councils should be able to seize greater amounts of landowners’ profits to fund the construction of local infrastructure.

“He has alighted on the fact that landowners are making more money than they should,” said a source familiar with Sir Oliver’s work.

Downing Street and the Treasury are now in discussions over how radical an approach to adopt.

Sir Oliver’s report could go as far as recommending compulsory purchase at prices that exclude the “uplift” in value from planning permission. But some fear this would be toxic among traditional Conservative supporters.

Mr Hammond is planning to set out Sir Oliver’s proposals in the Budget on October 29, although he is likely to fall short of formally adopting any ideas until they are further scrutinised.

Sir Oliver’s report comes amid growing calls from MPs, charities and think-tanks for the state to claw back more of the increase in value that landowners gain from planning permission.

Developers claim it would be a “wholesale erosion of private property rights” and insist that existing mechanisms already allow councils to extract money for local infrastructure.’

Burntwood Action Group would hope that if this report passes in to full scale legislation our local councils would fully utilise the additional funds to radically improve the infrastructure in the Burntwood area.

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Special General Meeting Tuesday 16th October 8:00 p.m. at St Matthews Social Club, WS7 9EP

Burntwood Action Group are holding a special general meeting in order to discuss and agree on an update to our previously agreed constitution.
The purpose of this update is to document and agree that BAG will be taking on a wider role to try to push forward the changes which are needed to make Burntwood a more attractive and sustainable place to live and work. We believe that our locally elected representatives need the help of a non-party political organisation such as ours to formulate and drive forward such changes.

If you are interested in attending this meeting please just turn up at St Matthews Social Club and join our meeting.

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Having previously attended and observed the majority of the government inspectors examinations of LDC development plans over the past 7 working days, Burntwood Action Group & Hammerwich Action Group formally took our appointed places yesterday to answer any questions in regard to the documentary evidence we have previously submitted to the inspector.
A summary of our evidence would show that we accept the fact that Burntwood has to accommodate additional housing in the in future, however it is our contention that previously identified brownfield sites should be fully developed before any Green Belt is released.
During the session devoted to development plans specifically for Burntwood we were able to draw the inspector’s attention to the number of ‘windfall’ houses that have been built in our area since the inception of the Local Plan Strategy. These ‘windfall’ houses (houses typically built in back gardens) amount to 219 dwellings, which is 30% above the number of new houses which are allocated to be built in Burntwood during the plan period. We are hopeful that these unplanned additional houses will help to persuade the inspector that our Green Belt can be preserved, at least in the near to medium term.
The inspector also noted the opposition in Burntwood to further building on Green Belt and was very well aware of the 4500 letters of objection that Burntwood & Hammerwich Action Groups had previously submitted to Lichfield District Council.
The inspector will now visit the areas in Burntwood that are proposed to be built on and will also take time to visit our Green Belt areas too. Once the examination process is complete the inspector will review all of the submissions, from LDC, developers, land owners and of course Burntwood Action Group & Hammerwich Action Group and will then provide his conclusion probably in the New Year.

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New Health Centre Proposal

The site of the former Greenwood House Nursing Home in Burntwood is being proposed as the new base for the Darwin Medical Practice, which is currently based in Hudson Drive.

This purpose built facility would include 13 consulting rooms, five treatment rooms and a health education space. There is also an adjoining pharmacy planned.

A public exhibition, which will be on display between 4pm and 7pm on the 18th of September at Burntwood Memorial Institute on Rugeley Road will give everyone the opportunity to see and comment on the plans and design prior to an application for planning approval being submitted.
Outline details will be also available at from September 18 for anyone who is unable to attend.

It is anticipated that the new facility could be completed during 2020 (which will mean the Greenwood House facility will have lain idle for 12 years…)

This is a great opportunity for residents of Burntwood to ensure that the design of the new building is in keeping with the local area; so please go along and make your views known.

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Inspection of Lichfield District Council’s Local Plan Allocations Hearing Statement from Burntwood Action Group (BAG)

As you will know from our previous post Lichfield District Council’s plan for development in our area is due to be examined by a government appointed inspector starting on the 4th of September and lasting for 2 weeks. During this period the inspector will read submissions and hear from interested parties, including those developers who wish to continue building on the Green Belt around Burntwood.

Burntwood Action Group will be attending LDC’s council chambers during the examination period – we have requested the opportunity to speak – and we have provided a summary statement, which is also copied below for your information and comment:

BAG has 250 members and its 16 committee members represent most areas of Burntwood. By ‘liking’ our posts on facebook 388 people have shown their support for our statements regarding the protection of the Green Belt and our input to driving forward improvements to Burntwood’s infrastructure and amenities. BAG also represents the views, on Burntwood’s Green Belt, of 2500 residents of Burntwood who responded to the Consultation on the above document.
Our submission in objection to the original draft was in great detail and this brief note aims to clarify our position. We supported the Focused Changes to the Plan as it abandoned plans for housing development in the Green Belt.
In the late 1950s the land now referred to as Burntwood Town was chosen by Lichfield District Council to house “Birmingham overspill.” Infill between the villages of Chase Terrace, Chasetown, Boney Hay and Burntwood, coupled with outward sprawl has resulted in the, confusingly named, conurbation called Burntwood. To confuse matters further a town centre called Burntwood Town Centre was created at Sankey’s Corner in Chase Terrace, a mile from the shopping centre at Burntwood village.
That Town Centre has never provided the facilities required by this ever-expanding urban sprawl. Other than cheaper housing than Lichfield, the main attraction of Burntwood is its green surroundings. Burntwood has already been allowed to grow beyond the limit which can be supported by its infrastructure and the majority of its residents commute outwards for work, shopping, leisure activities and complex health needs.

The Inspector of the Local Plan Strategy recognised that: (para 236) “It is undoubtedly the case that there are a number of constraints at Burntwood – such as its limited range and level of services, the proximity of the Cannock Chase AONB, the possibility of coalescence with the West Midlands conurbation to the south and with villages such as Hammerwich to the south east – and these are not likely to change over time.”
Developers are now trying to justify their plans for housing development in Burntwood’s Green Belt with the argument that an increased population is required to make improvements of Burntwood Town Centre viable. BAG maintains that, in its current state, Burntwood is not sustainable as a freestanding settlement due to its large population and inadequate facilities and infrastructure. The Local Plan Strategy is wrong in identifying Burntwood as a most sustainable settlement and BAG will be pursuing that argument through the review of the Plan.

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Critical Period Approaching

The examination of the Lichfield District Local Plan Allocations will be held at the Lichfield Council Chamber, commencing Monday 4th September for 2 weeks until Friday 14th September. There are considerable implications for the future of Burntwood, in particular the impact of housing on many of our local “greenbelt sites” for those interested you can access the programme and the important matters relating to Burntwood via the following web site:…/lichfield-local-plan-allocations/
In particular we would draw your attention to the Examination News – Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment: Section B3 Burntwood pages 43 to 67 inclusive that relate to past, current housing sites, plus future housing sites currently put forward by land owners and developers for development over the next 10 years.

In summary this is a critical period for the Burntwood area – developers are again attempting to violate our surrounding Green Belt land and are ignoring the opportunities to re purpose brownfield sites. Burntwood Action Group will be representing Burntwood our supporters with written statements to the examiner and also during the relevant days at the examination.

We will keep everyone updated as the examination progresses but in the meantime if you have any questions please do not hesitate to ask.

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