Petitions calling to stop development on Coventry’s former green belt and review the Local Plan have been submitted to the city council.
Almost 7,000 people have signed petitions on the issue.
The Local Plan controversially removed chunks of land from the green belt in 2017 to build new homes – including 3,100 in Keresley and 3,495 at Eastern Green – but campaigners say population figures it is based on are ‘flawed’.
Opposition leader Cllr Gary Ridley, who presented two petitions to full council on Tuesday, September 8, said: “We need a Local Plan for local people not a developer’s charter. Once the green belt is gone, it is gone forever.
“We should be developing brownfield sites before anything else. My fear is developer’s will flock to the green belt as it is cheaper and more marketable than brownfield.
“We have had concerns as the population numbers do not stack up especially now with Covid, it is incredibly difficult to predict if we are going to have that increase and number of students and if the jobs will be there.”
Coventry council believes it must accommodate 42,400 homes by 2031 based on Office of National Statistics (ONS) figures predicting a 31 per cent rise in population numbers, although critics argue it doesn’t take into account departing students.
The ONS has said the Local Plan is based on 2014 population projections which is the “most appropriate approach”.
Around 2,000 people have signed a petition by Cllr Ridley and West Midlands Mayor Andy Street calling for a Local Plan review.
Around 4,800 have signed a further petition from campaigner Merle Gering, which is backed by groups including the Allesley Green Residents’ Association who fear the impact of thousands of new planned homes at Eastern Green.
Steven Cox, from the group, said: “Clearly the strength of feeling is running extremely high in protest against the developments and calls for the council to urgently review the Local Plan are loud and clear.
“Residents all have their personal grounds for objection but there are two which feature the most, namely traffic impact on existing roads and the flawed Coventry population growth figures.
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“Residents strongly contend that the Meriden Gap should be protected and restored to green belt status with new development focused on brownfield land where there is adequate capacity to match demand for new housing and located in areas of the city where it is importantly required.”
The Local Plan is set for a planned review in March 2021 but campaigners – including Labour’s own party members in Earlsdon – have called for immediate action.
Leader Cllr George Duggins has previously said on the issue: “If there are issues that come around the numbers we need to look at that. I do not believe we will and I still believe we are short of homes.”
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