Solihull Local Plan (Draft Submission) 2020
Ended on the 14th December 2020
The Settlement Now
- Meriden is located approximately 9km to the east of Solihull Town Centre and the wider parish forms the north-eastern corner of Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council, bordering Coventry to the east and North Warwickshire to the north. It lies in the rural 'gap' between the Coventry and Birmingham conurbations (known as the 'Meriden Gap').
- The main settlements within the Parish are Meriden Village itself (where approximately two thirds of the population of the Parish live), Millison's Wood (approximately 1.5km to the east of Meriden Village) and Eaves Green. The population of the parish at the last Census (2011) was around 2,800 with some 1220 households. This has increased by approximately 130 households with post 2011 developments (notably at land to the east of Maxstoke Lane and development at Ley Lane).
- The A45 (Birmingham to Coventry Road) crosses through the Parish just to the north of Meriden Village. It is located approximately 2.5km to the east of junction 6 of the M42 and the entrance to the National Exhibition Centre (NEC), Birmingham International Airport and Birmingham International Rail Station. There is a frequent bus service to Coventry and Birmingham which becomes less frequent in the evenings and an hourly daytime only service to Solihull.
- The settlement derives its special character from its rural setting and its historical roots. There are two conservation areas: Meriden Green Conservation Area (including the village green at the centre of the settlement and the 'old' village located on Meriden Hill with its cluster of listed buildings including the church of St Laurence.
- The area surrounding the village of Meriden is predominantly Green Belt. It is a mix of agricultural land and woodland (parts of the former Forest of Arden) with some large sand and gravel extraction quarries to the west.
- The village has a small local centre around the village green with a range of shops and services including a recently developed sports and play facility on the south west side of the Green and a the Meriden Practice GP surgery. The village also accommodates a primary school which accommodates approximately 220 pupils. The nearest secondary school is Heart of England Secondary School located in Balsall Common.
- The Meriden Neighbourhood Plan has recently been examined and is expected to proceed to referendum when covid-19 related restrictions preventing referendums are lifted.
The Settlement in the Future
- The moderate impact on the Green Belt to the west and the accessibility of the village indicate that this settlement is suitable for consideration for limited growth, which could be focussed in an area to the west close to services and public transport. However, the distinctive historic character of the settlement will need to be conserved and where possible enhanced, particularly the Meriden Green and Meriden Hill Conservation Areas.
- Meriden is generally accessible with sites being of medium to high accessibility in the Accessibility Mapping Study and also supports a range of facilities. Any additional facilities should be focused in the Village centre so as to be sustainable and cater for the needs of the population.
- The main constraints to development are the surrounding Green Belt, the Borough boundary (located immediately to the north of Meriden Village) and the mineral safeguarding area (sand and gravel) to the west. The Solihull Strategic Green Belt Assessment Report (July 2016) rates areas to the west of the settlement as the area performing most poorly, with land to the north and east performing moderately.
- Meriden Parish Council submitted the Meriden Parish Neighbourhood Development Plan Submission Draft to Solihull MBC in March 2020. Following consultation, an independent examination will take place later in 2020 and then a referendum before the Plan can be 'made'. It will then form part of the Development Plan for Solihull. The Neighbourhood Plan includes a Local Housing Needs Assessment which should inform any housing proposals for the settlement.
- The High Speed 2 (HS2) route will be approximately 3km to the west of Meriden leading into the new Interchange Station located adjacent to the NEC/Birmingham International Airport. The new Interchange station will be approximately 4km to the north west of Meriden. Enabling and construction works have now commenced ready for the line to open in 2029-33. During this period there may be an increase in construction traffic around the settlement and once operational, due to the close proximity of the new Interchange station, there may be extra demand on services and housing.
What is Required for the Settlement in the Future?
- Any development within the village is not only an opportunity for the settlement to play its part in accommodating the Borough and wider area needs but also to assist in supporting local area needs with regards to housing mix, any infrastructure requirements and local environmental improvements.
- Concept Master Plan – The concept masterplans that accompany this Plan include the 3ha site located to the west of Meriden at the junction of Maxstoke lane and Birmingham Road. The masterplan indicates the overall site could accommodate around 100 dwellings with an area of public open space provided around the existing pond in the centre of the site. The Masterplan sets out the opportunities for the site to create a gateway development into Meriden.
- Local Infrastructure Requirements – The settlement has a good provision of local services to meet local needs. However, any development would need to include assessment of this infrastructure. In particular of school capacity and local medical facilities.
- Pedestrian and Cycling Connectivity – Enhancements to encourage and promote walking and cycling in the settlement, particularly towards the local centres, schools and public transport will be required. Developments will be expected to ensure that walking and cycling connectivity is provided both within and beyond the site boundary, linking in with the existing and proposed cycle and walking networks identified in the Council's Cycling and Walking Strategy, as well as routes for recreation.
- Local Aspirations – The emerging Meriden Neighbourhood Plan will set out the current aspirations of local people for the future of the settlement. Comments on the Draft Local plan highlight the Parish Council's desire to maintain Green Belt and rural communities, have improvements to public transport and infrastructure (particularly with the developments associated with the HS2 Interchange Station), reduce air pollution and increased provision of smaller homes for the elderly and affordable homes. Local aspirations can also be evidenced in the Meriden Parish Plan (2009), Meriden Parish Design Statement (2011), Meriden Parish Council's straw poll results to the Call for Sites, Meriden Neighbourhood Plan Survey 2016.
- Local Housing Need – Guidance is available in the emerging Meriden Neighbourhood Plan and Solihull Council is working with the Parish Council and the community to bring forward the Plan for adoption.
- Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) – Presently the parish council's will directly receive 15% of the levy collected in the area. This will increase to 25% once their Neighbourhood Plans are adopted. This will provide a significant source of funding that can be used to take forward appropriate projects the community identify as priorities.
- Green Belt Enhancements – The revised NPPF makes provision for environmental and/or access improvements to be undertaken to land that is to remain in the Green Belt to compensate for land that is taken up for development. This provides an opportunity for enhancements to existing or additional open space and other enhancements as needed.
- The settlement is suitable for consideration for limited growth. This reflects the sensitive environmental nature of the area, the character of the villages and the need to manage the capacity and viability of local infrastructure.
- Given that the opportunities to develop on previously developed land in Meriden are extremely limited, Green Belt release will be required and a redefined Green Belt boundary will need to be established. In accordance with national planning policy, such boundaries should be defined clearly, using physical features that are readily recognisable and likely to be permanent. Sites that are close to the existing settlement or are / can be well-served by public transport will be preferable, subject to their performance against the purposes of including land in Green Belt as supported in the Green Belt assessment and any other evidence base and constraints.
- A mix of market and affordable housing and specialist housing to meet the needs of older people should be provided in the settlement. There will need to be a careful balance struck between making the most efficient use of land and respecting the character of the local area
Policy ME1 - West of Meriden (Between Birmingham Road and Maxstoke Road)
- The site is allocated for around 100 dwellings.
- Development of this site should be consistent with the principles of the Concept Masterplan for this site, which include:
- Development to contribute to the creation of gateway into Meriden;
- Highest density of homes to be on the corner of Maxstoke Lane and Birmingham Road;
- Proposed layout to maximise natural surveillance and encourage active streets;
- No development within any area of higher flood risk zones;
- Provision of above ground SuDS features;
- 5% of open market dwellings to be provided in the form of Self and Custom Build Plots in accordance with Policy 4D
- Retention of trees and hedgerows across the site to ensure the mature character of the site is safeguarded;
- Provision of a minimum of 0.66 ha of Public Open Space to be provided around the pond and the group of significant trees within the centre of the site.
- Infrastructure requirements should include:
- Financial contribution to education provision as required by the Local Education Authority;
- A high quality, fully integrated SuDS scheme within the open space which can offer maximised multi-functional benefits;
- Highway improvements as required;
- Appropriate measures to promote and enhance sustainable modes of transport.
- Green Belt Compensation measures should include:
- Woodland planting
- On site green and blue infrastructure that is multifunctional and accessible
- Public open space
- Access improvements to the wider Green Belt beyond the site boundary
- Biodiversity enhancements
- The Concept Masterplan document should be read alongside this policy. Whilst the concept masterplans may be subject to change in light of further work that may need to be carried out at the planning application stage, any significant departure from the principles outlined for ME1 will need to be justified and demonstrate that the overall objectives for the site and its wider context are not compromised.
- The site is located to the west of the Maxstoke Lane development and would represent a continuation of development to Maxstoke Lane, as the north western boundary of the site;
- Whilst the site is currently within the Green Belt, it is considered to be 'lower performing' in the Solihull Strategic Green Belt Assessment Report (July 2016).
- The site is within easy walking distance of Meriden village centre and is well located, in accessibility terms, to public transport and other services.
- The Sustainability Appraisal offers mixed outcomes, with significant positive effects for access to services and transport links. Some minor negative effects are identifies such as distance to secondary school and landscape sensitivity and that mitigation will be necessary.
- The Level 2 Strategic Flood Risk Assessment includes this site. It does identify significant flood risk from fluvial and surface water sources on the northern boundary of the site. However, it recommends that all built development is situated outside of the flood risk areas and that the layout reflects the local topography and ensures extreme flood flow paths are not impeded. The quantum of open space available within the proposed allocation gives the opportunity for a high quality integrated SuDs scheme which can offer maximised multi-functional benefits.
- Compensatory improvements will be required for the loss of Green Belt as set out in the policy.