“THE FIGHT isn’t over” – that’s the message from campaigners after an appeal to build a motorway service station in Catherine-De-Barnes has been upheld.
Planning applications to build motorway stop-offs at Junction 4 in Shirley by Applegreen plc and on land between Hampton-in-Arden and Catherine-de-Barnes by Extra MSA have been contested in Solihull since they were handed to the Council in 2016 and 2015 respectively.
Last spring Solihull Council’s planning committee unanimously refused both applications on the grounds that they go against the Solihull Local Plan and the considerable damage either would do to the greenbelt.
Both companies then appealed the decision and now the planning inspector, Michael Boniface, has overturned the decision for the Catherine-De-Barnes site.
However Mr Boniface did uphold the decision over the Shirley site.
The Extra MSA application relies on smart motorways being up and running and works will have to remain on ice until after the government pause to collect more safety data on them is completed.
In his report Mr Boniface said both applications would harm the greenbelt but the Catherine-De-Barnes site ‘would be markedly less’ than the Shirley site.
Following the ruling Meriden MP Saqib Bhatti has written to residents to discuss the decision.
He said: “The fight isn’t over.
“This is only outline planning and there are significant safety concerns meaning it is unlikely that anything can happen before 2025.
“I am deeply disappointed by this decision.
“Our greenbelt is under immense pressure and because I believe this motorway service station would seriously harm the greenbelt, I have fought it every step of the way.
“I pay tribute to the local councillors and the local parish council who have fought a good fight and I look forward to continue working with them.”
Speaking to The Observer after the ruling Coun Bob Sleigh (Con, Bickenhill) cabinet member for resources said: “Very disappointed with the inspector’s decision, overturning the unanimous vote of the planning committee.
“The permission is of course only outline permission so there is still quite a way to go on this.
“A key point is the all-lane running issue of the motorway.
“Therefore we believe there is not going to be a lot happening until at least 2025.
“So as the saying goes it’s not over until the fat lady sings and we believe there is still some way to go on this.”