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RA Letter published in the Leamington Courier

The following letter from RA Chair Habib Kashi was published in the Leamington Courier on 11th May 2018:

Dear Sir I wonder if you are aware that as a consequence of Coventry’s inaccurate and inflated population growth figures (described as “stupid numbers” by its own cabinet member, Councillor Mutton), Warwickshire has agreed to build a significant number of houses on its green belt to accommodate Coventry’s supposed unmet housing needs. One area of proposed house building is on the green belt in Westwood Heath, where 425 homes are planned. This green belt supports probably the county’s only population of Hazel Dormice, which are under threat of extinction. In the words of the county’s own ecologist, “this population is of county and national importance”. The mitigation proposed by the builders for this is to place some tubes to accommodate the dormice and to undertake a post - development study to assess the impact on them although the ecologists considers that the process of building houses will very adversely affect them. The same area houses one of Warwickshire’s ancient medieval moats, which has just been scheduled by Historic England. On raising the issue with the developers, the response has been that as long as it is not “significantly damaged” it is acceptable to proceed with the development. Significant damage is to be defined by the developers! Finally, only 2 years ago, Coventry, Solihull and Warwickshire published a report on the green belt, in particular covering those areas that separate urban developments such as Coventry from Kenilworth and Solihull. The green belt in Westwood Heath was considered one of the best examples of what should be preserved and never built on. To emphasise this point, a photo of the area was used on the front cover of the joint document. Only a short time later, we find that dormice, a Scheduled Ancient Monument, as well as other threatened protected species (skylarks, buzzards etc ) and our green belt itself can be sacrificed at the altar of the developer’s greed. It is essential that we, the local people make our elected councillors aware that we care for our environment and heritage and value these above profit. There is still time to comment on this application; if you share these concerns, I implore you to do so. The planning application number is W/17/2357, accessed via Warwick District Council’s planning portal. Yours sincerely Habib Kashi

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