‘Human chain’ protest coming near Burton Green over ‘false’ Local Plan

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A ‘human chain’ will be formed with Burton Green residents and many others in protest over new housing from Warwick District’s Local Plan next weekend.

If adopted, the plan will see 1,800 homes built at King’s Hill, 425 at Westwood Heath, and 90 in Burton Green itself. Also, 240 houses will be built west of Cromwell Lane as part of Coventry’s Local Plan as well.

But Cllr Archie Taylor, the chairman of Burton Green Parish Council, and Burton Green resident Merle Gering, have claimed the figures used to estimate how many houses are needed are based on false statistics.

Cllr Taylor also felt once the houses are built, Burton Green could be incorporated into Coventry’s border after HS2 is completed, which he described as a ‘land grab’.

In protest, residents and campaigners will be forming a ‘human chain’ in Green Lane next to Finham Primary School on Sunday July 16 at 1pm. Anyone against the plans is invited to join in.

Cllr Taylor said: “It is important that communities support these events. The housing developments are an affront to social justice.

“Westwood Heath will have to endure a diminished landscape, 425 houses, even more congestion and perhaps a very light railway while Burton Green could well be taken over by Coventry as the boundary could extend to the HS2 line.”

The revised version of Warwick District’s Local Plan has allocated more housing in the district to meet Coventry’s unmet need for housing. This was based in part on projected population growth in the city.

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) to help 
produce it.

But the very high population growth predicted by the ONS for Coventry from 2011 to 2031, 32 per cent, seemed far too high for Cllr Taylor and Merle to accept. It was almost double the growth of the next highest area in the Midlands, Sandwell, at 17 per cent.

Merle said: “The ONS and GL Hearn have grossly overestimated the likely population growth in Coventry for the plan period.

“All of Coventry’s likely housing need can be accommodated within its own boundary.

“The problem for the council, and GL Hearn, is explaining why there will be a population explosion in Coventry.”

His research, seen by the KWN and endorsed by Prof David Coleman, a professor of demography at Oxford University, casts doubt on the possible reasons for the apparent population boom, such as high employment growth, commuters living there, and miscounting the student population.

He added: “I call on the Local Plan inspector to require a complete re-evaluation of the population growth models by an entirely independent party, such as the Royal Statistical Society, to consider all of the sources of evidence.”

A spokesman for Warwick District Council said: “The housing requirements arising from GL Hearn’s study have been subject to detailed scrutiny by independent government inspectors in both the Coventry and Warwick Local Plan Examinations.

“Whilst we don’t have the final reports from these examinations, there have not been any indications that the housing requirements to be significantly different from GL Hearn’s conclusions.”

Neither GL Hearn nor Coventry City Council have responded for comment.