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Plan for houses in rural area; DEVELOPMENT: Furious Tory chairman says idea beggars belief.

Byline: By Fiona Scott POLITICAL EDITOR

THE MERIDEN gap is in danger of becoming the home to a new settlement of 13,000 houses under the latest housing projections for the West Midlands.

Tory MP for Meriden Caroline Spelman and the Council for the Protection of Rural England are horrified at proposals announced yesterday.

The Government Office for the West Midlands is now to examine three proposals put forward for them by consultants Nathaniel Lichfield.

All involve building far more homes than previously envisaged by 2026 - between 51,500 to 80,000 above the 340,000 most recently proposed.

The proposals are not yet Government policy.

None of the extra homes are to go in Coventry, North Warwickshire or Nuneaton and Bedworth areas. But Rugby and Warwick could be affected.

Under the first scenario, growth would be concentrated in the prosperous south-east and rural west of the region, with 51,500 extra homes, of which 13,000 would be in Solihull Borough.

Maggie Throup, the Tory who will fight the Solihull seat at the next election, said the only place where these could be built would be the Green Belt - and that means the Meriden Gap.

Caroline Spelman, Tory party chairman and Meriden MP, said: "I have continually fought to protect the Meriden Gap that gives our area so much of its character and I am now not going to let it be ruined by ill-thought through Government plans. This is yet another example of public trust being undermined... this just beggars belief."

An extra 5,000 homes could be built in Rugby, 5,000 in Leamington and 4,500 in Stratford district.

Under the second scenario, 54,000 extra homes would be spread across the region, with 5,000 extra in Solihull, 3,000 in Rugby, 5,000 in Leamington and 4,500 in Stratford.

In the third scenario, 80,000 extra homes would be build - with 10,000 in Solihull, 5,000 in Rugby, 10,000 in Leamington and 4,500 in Stratford.

Gerald Kells, Regional Policy Officer for CPRE West Midlands, dismissed the proposals as being in "cloud cuckoo land".

The plans - and huge volumes of supporting documents - are now being pored over by officials and councillors across Coventry and Warwickshire.
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Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Oct 8, 2008
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