Land commission backs 'strategic review' of West Midlands green belt

There should be a 'strategic review' of the West Midlands green belt to avoid the 'piecemeal and unsustainable' loss of such land, a report by special commission has recommended.

West Midlands: commission report recommends green belt review
West Midlands: commission report recommends green belt review

The West Midlands Land Commission was established by the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) last year to examine issues affecting land supply in the region.

The body has now issued its final report which warns that housing targets in the WMCA’s Strategic Economic Plan (SEP) "are stretching and will not be met on current trends".

"The West Midlands needs urgently to increase its capacity to bring forward sites for housing development and employment. In relation to housing, there would need to be a 60 per cent increase on the current annual level of completions to meet anticipated population growth with a large increase in employment land also needed", the report says.

The document makes a raft of recommendations, including a call for a "strategic review" of the green belt in the WMCA area.

The report says that the commission "believes that even an effective, well-funded remediation programme is unlikely to provide a sufficient supply of developable land to meet the WMCA’s Strategic Economic Plan (SEP) ambitions and targets on its own, and therefore a mixed strategy will need to be adopted".

It says that the review "should pick up from and, where appropriate, supersede the reviews which a number of local authorities have under-way, where the commission shares the view of a number of respondents that individual local reviews risk a piecemeal and unsustainable ‘chipping away’ of the green belt".

The report also recommends the development of "non-statutory spatial framework" for the West Midlands.

It says that this needs to be "supported by processes, including further and more detailed analysis of the needs of business and on the needs of the housing market" and should be "supported with resources to underpin its delivery with a strong bias to collective action".

The commission also recommends the designation of a "prioritised list of action zones where significant employment and housing space can be accommodated, underpinned by a delivery plan and a financial plan for each such zone".

The document also underlines the need for "further ambitious steps aimed at transforming brownfield land" with a "radically expanded programme of regeneration and remediation of brownfield sites is needed across the West Midlands, engaging both local and national organisations".

West Midlands Land Commission: Final Report to the West Midlands Combined Authority Board can be read here. 

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