Despite Sir Keir’s bold talk of “backing the builders, not the blockers“, it turns out his own MPs’ NIMBY instincts are often too powerful to resist once a single brick threatens to enter their patch. Take Labour Whip Taiwo Owatemi just today, for example. This morning she released this statement upon the shocking news that 345 homes are set to be built in her constituency:
“Losing any part of Coundon Wedge is unacceptable and flies in the face of what those of us who live in the neighbourhood want and need. This green space is more than a blank on the map of Coventry for developers to fill in at will: Coundon Wedge is a vital green lung for the health and well-being of thousands of Coventry residents who need to be heard…”
Here are a few pictures of that “vital green lung”…
There are currently around 13,000 Coventry households on a waiting list for a home. God forbid a few sheep have to be relocated.
A Tory source tells Guido:
“Will Keir Starmer sack Taiwo Owatemi for being a blocker not a builder? Or is he too weak to stand up to his own front bench team? You can’t trust a word Labour say on housing.”
Owatemi even laments how the government “will force Coventry to build 35% more homes than necessary simply to meet arbitrary targets”. How’s that for “backing the builders”…
Read Owatemi’s full (long) statement below:
“Coundon Wedge serves a vital role in our community and I support all those who’ve objected to this development in Brown’s Lane. Losing any part of Coundon Wedge is unacceptable and flies in the face of what those of us who live in the neighbourhood want and need. This green space is more than a blank on the map of Coventry for developers to fill in at will: Coundon Wedge is a vital green lung for the health and well-being of thousands of Coventry residents who need to be heard.
The protection promised to Coundon Wedge needs to be reasserted by Coventry City Council, with clear red lines drawn on the map to ensure that no further encroachment is possible. Even if the Council’s powers do not allow it to automatically block unpopular developments by private companies, keeping public land in public hands is one way in which the growth of new building can be controlled and the needs of residents put first.
Planning and the expansion of housing in Coventry is one of the main issues I speak to constituents about on a daily basis. With the City Council’s Local Plan coming up for review, it’s more important than ever to ensure that our voices are heard. This document will govern how Coventry is developed until the end of the decade and it has to reflect the real needs of Coventry’s residents and businesses.
This is why I’ve been hosting meetings this month to allow people to submit their own responses to the Local Plan’s review. Ahead of the end of the consultation period on 29th September, I’ve been working with community groups such as the Coventry Society, Keresley Parish Council and Allesley and Coundon Wedge Society to help as many residents as possible contribute to the review process. I encourage everyone who hasn’t done so already to get involved before the consultation closes today.
In Westminster as well as in Coventry, I’ve made sure to speak up at every opportunity about the need to change our planning laws. From Prime Minister’s Questions to hosting Parliamentary debates on the subject, since being first elected in 2019 I’ve done my utmost to keep this issue at the forefront of the agenda in Westminster. More and more people are now waking up to the fact that our planning system isn’t fit for purpose, with the wrong homes being built in the wrong places for prices too many families could never afford.
Above all, I’ve highlighted how Coventry has been singled out for poor treatment by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, whose inflated housing targets have long overstated the number of new homes our city needs. After having met with ministers to explain how the ONS’s projections were clearly overestimating population expansion in Coventry, I’m glad that the Census confirmed the lower rate of growth that had been so evident on the ground for so many years. I hope that the Government will now allow these more accurate figures to be fed into future planning decisions for our city.
However, much more must be done to create a planning system that’s fit for this century as opposed to the last. With central government sticking to its policy of the “uplift” – which will force Coventry to build 35% more homes than necessary simply to meet arbitrary targets imposed by Westminster – this is not an issue that is likely to go away any time soon. From protecting cherished green spaces such as Coundon Wedge in our own backyard to campaigning for change in Parliament, planning law will remain one of my priorities as I represent our part of Coventry.”