Political repercussions for landmark Birmingham appeal

It’s hotting up in Birmingham, with the summer’s weather only partly to blame. A two-year planning battle to award an 80-acre plot in south Birmingham between FPCR Environment and Design (on behalf of Bloor Homes) and Birmingham City Council has been finally settled with the Government upholding Bloor’s appeal to build 800 homes on the site of the former North Worcestershire Golf Club.

James Brokenshire, the outgoing Secretary of State for MHCLG, backed the recommendation of the planning inspector to allow the appeal following a public inquiry late last year. Brokenshire’s letter on 24th July would have been one of his last planning decisions before Robert Jenrick took up the mantel in Boris Johnson’s new government on the same day. The win is a significant one as Birmingham City Council had been able to demonstrate a five year land supply. Additionally, the site was not allocated in its current Development Plan.

The Government’s decision on this appeal will likely have long-term repercussions for sites across Birmingham and beyond, whether allocated in their respective development plans or not. Councils will be worried that other instances of windfall sites will occur in cases where development plans are likely to fail in meeting the latest housing requirements. With a five-year supply it is clear that there is no guarantee in preventing new permissions on greenfield sites. Politically speaking, this means parties from across the spectrum are likely to re-double their efforts in blocking paths to much-needed development, particularity given the state of political flux we find ourselves in at the moment.

Nevertheless, senior members may lack the appetite and resources required to face-down numerous cases at appeal. As a result, opportunities may arise where early political engagement, allowing developers to demonstrate the benefits of their offering over other competing sites in the authority, could result in more first-time consents, rather than be subjected to a lengthy appeal process. Watch this space…

George Beard - Associate Director