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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Plans to build 460,000 homes on land released from the green belt will not help young families get on to the property ladder, say campaigners.

The Campaign to Protect Rural England said 78% of planned developments on greenfield sites do not fall under the government’s “affordable” definition.

Its director said people are “being sold a lie” and will “go on struggling to afford a place to live”.

CPRE argues that more brownfield sites should be used instead – claiming they could accommodate more than one million homes in England.

New analysis by the CPRE claimed that 72% of homes built on sites within the green belt last year could not be classed as “affordable” under the government’s own definition.

They now warn this will rise by 6% this year as the government ups the number of homes it is building.

The group also claimed 7,600 affordable homes needed to be built in the countryside annually – but its figures showed only 990 were built last year.

The CPRE’s director of campaigns and policy, Tom Fyans, said: “We are being sold a lie by many developers.

“As they sell off and gobble up the green belt to build low density, unaffordable housing, young families go on struggling to afford a place to live.”

Mr Fyans said the affordable housing crisis must be addressed “with increasing urgency”, but that building on greenfield sites does not provide the solution, instead “entrenching the issue.”

He added: “The government is failing in its commitment to protect the green belt – it is being eroded at an alarming rate.

“But it is essential, if the green belt is to fulfil its main purposes and provide 30 million of us with access to the benefits of the countryside, that the redevelopment of brownfield land is prioritised, and green belt protection strengthened.”

At Burntwood Action Group we support the comments as quoted above. We believe every effort should be made to identify and re purpose brownfield sites and that our Green Belt areas should not be further eroded by indiscriminate, unplanned building by developers who will not help to deliver what our area really needs.

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Community Infrastructure Levy

When land owners and developers build properties in England & Wales they can be liable to pay a levy, which can then be used by local authorities to help deliver infrastructure improvements to support the development of the area.

Improvements could include improving parks, schools and leisure facilities for example.

Lichfield District Council have announced that they have a £300,000 pot of money to spend and they are inviting applications for projects that would benefit the area.

We know that circa £67,000 of this pot of money came from the housing development at Milestone Way in Burntwood so it is essential that projects in Burntwood benefit from at least this amount of investment – if not more.

Burntwood Action Group will be putting forward suggestions to Burntwood Town Council & Lichfield District Council and we would also welcome any ideas you may have as to how this money should be invested to benefit our area.

We all want a Better Burntwood so please let us know what you think we need to do – and we will take it from there!

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We understand that on July the 18th Staffordshire County Council’s Cabinet will discuss proposals to transfer the former Greenwood House retirement home, which is on Lichfield Road in Burntwood for use by the Darwin Practice as a doctors surgery.

The facility would also feature a pharmacy.

Cllr Alan White Deputy Leader and Cabinet member for health, care and wellbeing is quoted as saying:
“This proposal, utilising a previously dormant plot of land to provide additional capacity for the local GP practice, means people in Burntwood can look forward to a new, state-of-the-art accessible practice that meets the needs of local people,”

If the proposals are approved, the site would still require planning approval and funding being put in place, but the council says it anticipates the land being leased for 60 years.

Cllr Mark Deaville, Cabinet member for commercial, said: “We always want to make the best use of any land or buildings we have and this is a great example of working with partners to make the best use of a redundant site for the benefit of the local community.”

Whilst on the face of it this may appear to be good news we believe that Cllr White was on the record in 2015 saying that this transfer was imminent.

We can only hope that this time the Staffs County Council Cabinet vote positively and expedite this transfer urgently as this site has been redundant since August 2006, which isn’t actually ‘a great example of working with partners to make the best use of a redundant site for the local community’ as Cllr Mark Deaville is quoted as saying it is.

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Condescending Developers

Followers of our web site will know that the Local Neighbourhood Plan for Burntwood was recently submitted by Burntwood Town Council.

Once submitted objections and responses to the Plan are received from interested parties – including developers – and these responses are reviewed and commented on by BTC.

Over the next few days we will publish relevant excerpts from 4 developers who have responded to the Plan in regard to Green Belt areas surrounding Burntwood.

BTC has responded to these developers explaining that there is no requirement for a Neighbourhood Plan to allocate land for residential development and that this is a matter for the Lichfield District Council Local plan – translated this means that Burntwood Green Belt will be under serious threat once again from residential builders.

In the first of these excerpts below you will see how condescending developers can be – the statement that regenerating and developing the Town Centre will not ensure continued vitality is plainly ridiculous – they want to build yet more houses to ‘create footfall’ to the Town Centre. But we know that our schools are already full, it’s a 3 week wait for a Doctors appointment, the Police Station in Chasetown has closed, access to leisure areas are limited (or locked) and the whole area looks tired and worn out, including the roads, which if the developers get their way will have to carry significantly more traffic.

Please comment on these posts, forward them to anyone you think may be interested and get ready for a battle for our Green Belt and a Better Burntwood.

Excerpt from comments on the Burntwood Neighbourhood Plan by Savills:

‘We consider that regenerating and developing within the town centre alone will not ensure the continued vitality of Burntwood town centre. It is apparent that the current local community is not enough to sustain the existing town centre and therefore more residents are required to ensure its success. Therefore, we propose that further residential development should be encouraged within the Neighbourhood Plan in order to expand the local community and seek to increase the footfall of visitors to the town to use the existing and proposed shops and services being sought.
Unlike greenfield sites, in most cases brownfield sites (particularly those which have been used for employment uses) have significant build costs related to demolition and ground conditions works which usually means that their viability can be affected meaning potentially reduced Section 106 contributions towards obligations such as affordable housing or community facilities. Due to viability reasons, we consider that the limited brownfield sites currently proposed for residential development within Burntwood will not provide the investment alone which will be required to rejuvenate the town centre nor will their scale mean that they will generate to scale of residents required to sustain any new retail, leisure or food and drink uses which may be developed’

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