Prescott will rule on Peddimore

Campaigners fighting to protect the Sutton Coldfield green belt have been dealt a fresh blow by confirmation that John Prescott will have the final say on industrial development land at Peddimore.

The Deputy Prime Minister has, since 1997, twice overruled planning inspectors by insisting that Birmingham City Council must retain the 140-acre site as a Major Investment Site for a single large employer.

basingstoke land

The council's Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition wants to return Peddimore to the green belt by changing the Unitary Development Plan. Such a move is likely to meet resistance from the West Midlands Regional Assembly.

A council scrutiny committee heard yesterday from Trudi Elliott, chief executive of the assembly, that the deletion of Peddimore as an MIS would be contrary to planning guidance issued by the Government.

"This would clearly weaken the implementation policy and the overall economic component of the spatial strategy," Ms Elliott warned.

An eight-year tussle over Peddi-more began in 1996 when the land was promoted by the then Labour-controlled city council as one of three West Midlands Major Investment Sites, with the expectation that an electronics company would create hundreds of jobs. The deal fell through and the council failed to attract an alternative employer.

David Carter, acting head of strategy and information, told the scrutiny committee that the Sutton Coldfield community wanted Peddimore to be restored to the green belt.

He warned that an attempt to remove Peddimore as an MIS would risk intervention from Mr Prescott since to do so would be contrary to Government planning guidance. There was no way of knowing, though, whether the Deputy Prime Minister would overrule the council.

Sutton Coldfield councillor David Roy (Con Sutton Vesey) told the committee that Peddimore was unsuitable for industrial development because it was a long way from Birmingham's unemployment hotspots and had no public transport links.

Coun Ken Hardeman (Con Brand-wood), said: "On two occasions inspectors have listened to local people and recommended that Peddimore be deleted.

"If we are about consultation then surely we have to take into account the views of the community as supported by the inspectors."

ic Birmingham, 6th October, 2004

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