Effective delivery of strategic sites: Birmingham

As one of the largest development sites in the City, the decision to release the land from the Green Belt for approximately 6,000 homes was driven by the council’s desire to create new communities with all supporting infrastructure.   


Fact file

Type – strategic urban extension (greenfield, Green Belt release) 

LPA – Birmingham City Council 

Landowner – multiple landowners and developers with a mix of freehold and optioned land 

Promoter / Developer – the site is represented by the Langley (Sutton Coldfield) Consortium, including over 90 per cent of the land interests on site  

Scale – residential-led, 6,000 homes in five neighbourhoods. Adjacent to a strategic employment site allocated in the same plan subject to a separate Supplementary Planning Document (SPD).  

Strategic infrastructure requirements – infrastructure to enable the SPRINT/rapid transit system through the site, new junction improvements to create a new gateway from the A38, new 40 ha country park, three primary schools, one secondary school.  

Other key uses - district centre/local centre uses, sports and community hubs, healthcare facilities 

Status – SPD approved 2019, awaiting submission of outline planning application


Allocation and policy  

As one of the largest development sites in the City, the decision to release the land from the Green Belt for approximately 6,000 homes was driven by the council’s desire to create new communities with all supporting infrastructure.   

After a protracted process, including the imposition of a government holding notice on the local plan, meaning it could not be officially adopted until January 2017, the Langley Sustainable Urban Extension (SUE) was formally released from the Green Belt, and is allocated in the Birmingham Development Plan (Policy GA5). The delivery of Langley SUE and its associated wider infrastructure is being coordinated with a 71 hectare (ha) employment site at Peddimore. 

The allocation is a comprehensively worded policy but does not include a plan other than a site allocation boundary. Rather, the requires approval of an SPD setting out further details.  


Supplementary planning guidance  

At Langley, master planning was commissioned by the council to inform the drafting of its SPD. The SPD was prepared in-house by the council, informed through consultation with the consortium. 

In addition, and in recognition of the fact that Langley SUE will be built out over a 20 year period by a number of different developers, the council has included in the SPD a requirement that a single planning application is required for the whole site. Furthermore, a design framework is also required prior to submission of the application, seen as essential to embed key design, quality and sustainability principles to coordinate and guide development. 

The design framework will form a suite of design information required to be submitted by outline planning application stage. It should clearly set out how place-making and character will be delivered across Langley SUE and for each of the neighbourhoods, and how this relates to development phasing.   


Engagement and consultation  

Because of the need to secure the removal of the land from the Green Belt, the extent of the site was defined by Green Belt policy considerations rather than landownership or delivery influences.    

This has meant the site is subject to multiple land ownerships with differing land and development interests. Despite early and sustained engagement between the council and the developer consortium prior to the local plan and in the years since its adoption, it has proved challenging to move beyond the SPD to an agreed application scheme and the council still awaits the submission of the single outline application required to progress delivery.