Almost 300 people linked hands to form a ‘human chain’ last weekend in protest over houses planned to be built in and around Burton Green on green belt land.
Groups of protestors from Burton Green and Coventry all got together in Green Lane, Finham, on Sunday July 16 to oppose Warwick District Council and Coventry City Council’s Local Plans, which they believe are based on false statistics.
Tractors drove up and down the road to symbolise the rural nature of the fields planned to be developed, and the protestors formed a makeshift ‘barrier’ next to the fields to symbolise the resistance to the plans.
If adopted, Warwick district’s plan will see 1,800 homes built at King’s Hill, 425 at Westwood Heath, and 90 in Burton Green itself. And 240 houses will be built west of Cromwell Lane as part of Coventry’s Local Plan.
Leader of Burton Green Parish Council Archie Taylor said: “It was a superb day. People of all ages were there.
“It was an expression of solidarity and many there enjoyed just being with like-minded people. It was important to them that the green belt is considered as something important and not to be discarded, especially for false statistics.
“I think people came away from the day feeling happy and please that they had gone there to be together in opposition to population statistics which are wrong.”
The revised version of Warwick District’s Local Plan has allocated more housing in the district, especially the north, to meet Coventry’s apparent unmet need for housing.
Both Warwick District Council and Coventry City Council hired consultants GL Hearn to produce a model which estimates the housing need for both areas. The consultants used data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
But the very high population growth predicted by the ONS for Coventry from 2011 to 2031, 32 per cent, seemed strangely high. It was almost double the growth of the next highest area in the Midlands, Sandwell, at 17 per cent.
Research from Keresley resident Merle Gering, seen by the KWN and endorsed by Prof David Coleman, a professor of demography at Oxford University, casts doubt on reasons for the apparent population boom, such as high employment growth, commuters living there, and miscounting the student population.
Cllr Paul Davies, the leader of Finham Parish Council, said: “We don’t believe the figures, and the councils have no answer to what Merle has come up with.
“This is green belt land, which is the only barrier between us and Kenilworth.
“It was created to prevent urban sprawl - and these developments are a prime example of urban sprawl.”
In response, leader of Warwick District Council Cllr Andrew Mobbs said: “Warwick District Council fully appreciates and sympathises with the concerns of residents regarding the development of new homes in our district.
“We would, however, like to highlight that the Local Plan is not purely about housing development, but also providing employment land for job growth, supporting and protecting our town centres, historic environment, improvements to infrastructure including new schools, green spaces, and highway improvements.
“It is vital to our district that the Local Plan is adopted as soon as possible, as it will allow the council to put a clear policy framework in place to ensure the much needed housing development in our district is of high quality and we can protect our environment and our green belt, which will still cover almost 80 per cent of the district.
“Without a Local Plan our position in preventing unwanted development would be extremely weak.”
Coventry City Council and Jeremy Wright MP have all been approached for comment.