Councillor quits charity in row over green belt land.
Byline: Neil Elkes Political Correspondent firstname.lastname@example.org
A SUTTON Coldfield councillor has resigned from the board of a leading charity in a row over green belt development.
Coun Rob Pocock stepped down this week after it emerged that the Sutton Coldfield Charitable Trust, or SCCT, is arguing for green belt land near Four Oaks to be released for development. The details emerged during a public inquiry into Birmingham's draft Development Plan which started earlier this week.
Most controversial proposal in the plan is to build 6,000 homes and a large factory on green belt land east of Walmley - at a site called the Langley Sustainable Urban Extension. Developers and land owners, including the SCCT, argue even more green belt land needs to be built on to meet Birmingham's huge demand for housing.
Coun Pocock (Lab, Sutton Vesey), who has been a member of the Trust board since last year, said he could not could not continue given its stance.
He said: "Ever since the city council put a cap on the Sutton green belt development limiting growth to 5,000 houses by 2031, it has been bombarded by a blitz of objections from predatory land speculators who want the total jacked back up to 12,000 or more.
"It is a shame that the Sutton Coldfield Charitable Trust has got itself tangled up in this game, because it helps a lot of good causes in our area."
The Trust would not comment on the issue, but via its agent RPS in a submission to the inquiry, it has argued that the further parcels of green belt land should be released for development ahead of the Langley SUE site.
RPS, which is also acting on behalf of Bishop Vesey Grammar School, says that a site jointly owned by the two organisations at Withy Hill Farm is suitable and deliverable. It states: "The land at Withy Hill Farm is therefore considered highly sustainable, consistent with the strategy of the plan, without significant land or ownership constraint and available." The public inquiry continues at Aston University. The Sutton Coldfield green belt development will be discussed in detail on Tuesday and Wednesday, October 28 and 29.