On behalf of the Rowney Green Association (RGA), a subcommittee was appointed to consider the Bromsgrove District Plan review update. The whole document has been read and debated but focus has naturally been on land parcel SE5, which includes Rowney Green village.
Overall the RGA supports the update but believes that land parcel SE5 should be Strong with regard to Green Belt purpose 3.
The RGA recognise the need for additional housing arising both within the District and as ‘overspill’ from the West Midlands conurbation. We are happy with the high-level approach to distribution of development i.e. focussing expansion on Bromsgrove and the six larger settlements with suitable enhancements to existing transport corridors/transport links. We also recognise that land will need to be released from the Green Belt to accommodate this development, and that a proportion will be required on smaller sites.
Part one of the Green Belt assessment has been carried out objectively. Specifically, for land parcel SE5 however, we have two observations.
For purpose 2 (To prevent neighbouring towns from merging), please note that the physical distance between Birmingham and Redditch looking across land parcels NE1, SE5 and SE8 is perhaps the narrowest across all of the Green Belt around Birmingham. We understand why a rating of ‘Moderate’ has been given but development in this middle land parcel would leave very little space between these two major built up areas.
For purpose 3 (To assist in safeguarding the countryside from encroachment) we believe the rating should be ‘Strong’. Our objective evidence to support this view is set out below.
Most of the parcel SE 5 is part of the parish of Alvechurch. The Alvechurch Neighbourhood Plan has been ‘made’ recently and is now part of the statutory development plan for the neighbourhood area. It has developed policies to maintain the openness of the Green Belt from uncontrolled or poorly placed development.
In SE 5 there are constraints to do with local wildlife and heritage sites, and important parish assets. See pages 2, 12 – 14 of 118, Topic 2 (Heritage Design and Natural Environment, HDNE 4, HDNE6) and the Evidence Base of the Neighbourhood Plan.
Worcestershire County Council, supported by English Heritage/Historic England, has produced the document “Alvechurch Historic Environment Action Plan – Rowney Green, Bordesley and Alvechurch Park. (ALV_A3) as part of a pilot study. Link is given in Alvechurch Neighbourhood Plan on page 22 of 118. https://public.worcestershire.gov.uk/sites/archaeology/Reports/SWR22703.pdf
As well as ancient woodland and ancient wood pasture, and together with the river Arrow and its tributaries, providing long wildlife corridors, there are areas of wet and dry acid grassland, supporting species rare in Worcestershire. The white-clawed crayfish is a globally threatened species living in Local Wildlife Site Dagnell Brook. Headwaters of the brook arise from Local Wildlife Site Rowney Green, the habitat being wet and dry acid grassland. (Ref.Worcestershire Biodiversity Action Plan. www.worcestershire.gov.uk/info/20252/environment_policy/1155/biodiversity_action_plan
The landscape and history of Rowney Green is described at www.rowneygreen.org with a link to a 16 mile cycle tour of the area. SE 5 is a rural area but it is also intensely used by the wider community for informal recreation, using the lanes and the network of historic paths which are well- maintained by volunteers and supported by the county council. Residential accommodation for groups of thirty-six people is provided by the Methodist Church at Peck Wood Centre (with nine hectares of mainly ancient woodland) for youth groups from the city and elsewhere to enjoy rural holidays. www.peckwood.org .