Housing is probably the most contentious issue a council deals with, and that means local councillors are often consumed with debate about what kind of houses are needed, where they should go, how many of them, and even in to the detail of their design and impact on the area.

That is one of the reasons why THE OLD SURGERY on Tanhouse Lane is so important to me as a local Conservative Councillor. For the last four years since my election in 2018 I have been trying to get the housing balance right in Church Hill.

If you stand in Church Hill Centre, you can look around and see social housing in almost every direction you look. From the YMCA to Melbury Way to Knowle Close, there is a mix of mainly social housing covering a wide range of needs. If you walk down into Edgeworth Close you will find brand new council houses being built for the first time in 20 years – a result of a hard working Conservative council refocusing priorities onto building new affordable homes.

Further into Church Hill you will find private rentals, privately owned and other combinations of home ownership. Until yesterday, you would not have found Executive/Luxury apartments.

There’s nothing dirty or wrong about those words. They have their place, and so do the apartments now completed on Tanhouse Lane. We should celebrate the diversity of our housing mix in Church Hill, and we should definitely celebrate Church Hill being ‘on the up’ with investment into our area of the kind normally seen in other areas.

I’ve long said Church Hill and wider Redditch has a lot of potential, it just needs unlocking – and here is an example of just that with the arrival of these apartments.

Together as residents, councillors, officers, developers, investors, builders and more we are all unlocking the potential of Church Hill and Redditch.

I pay tribute to Ian Young and his team who saw the potential of the site and took on the risk to deliver this site. They battled complex legal issues, a pandemic and rising material costs. But they beat them all.

I defy anyone to take a look around the apartments and tell me they’re not brilliant. The quality of finish is superb, this has clearly been a labour of love for Ian and his team of highly skilled tradespeople.

I have seen some reaction online to the arrival of these luxury apartments. Some are saying the rental price is too high and that we need more social housing in the area. I fundamentally disagree with that assessment.

What the naysayers are missing is how the price per month is part of a package that provides a fully furnished apartment, which in itself is worth thousands of pounds.

As I toured the apartments, I spoke to some of the people who turned up to take a look around. One couple was considering moving from Birmingham and thought the apartments provided them with a good opportunity and good value compared to their current situation. Over the course of the weekend a large number of the apartments were snapped up. The market is speaking for itself.

I promised in 2018 that the derelict building that was on this site before would be sorted out on my watch, and people should rightly ask what I did. What was my contribution?

It’s true I didn’t lay a brick, or plaster a wall, or wire a socket. Instead I helped the wheels of bureaucracy turn just a bit quicker. I made sure a sensible conversation was had about developer contributions to local services, and when a bat was discovered in the old building I swung into action.

It sounds insignificant but a bat can derail a project. A developer needs permission from Natural England to remove a bat, and with the COVID backlog this was looking likely to take 6 months to get. By that time the project would have failed due to financing deadlines. Everything would have stopped and there would have been a half completed building stuck on the site possibly for years. I worked with Rachel Maclean MP and others to move heaven and earth to get the permission in place much quicker.

I would like residents to think of this as quick and effective action from a hard working Councillor who wants the best for the area.

Because it’s true. I stood in Church Hill Centre on Sunday and admired the progress being made in the whole area. The new shops, the new houses, and now the new apartments. We have Lidl opening up down the road, and new council houses on the way in Edgeworth Close. I’ve played a role in making sure Wendy’s Way got permission in place from the council, I’ve had an electric power outlet installed for Bomford Hill via our County Councillors, and I’ve stood up against inappropriate developments where they don’t deliver the mix of housing we need.

There’s still work to be done, and I hope you will give me another 4 years to deliver more for Church Hill.

We need to fix the crossing at the bus road junction as there are too many near misses and incidents here.

We need to provide more opportunities for young people and I will outline my ideas on this in another post.

And we need to do more to tackle domestic abuse, anti social behaviour, fly tipping and drugs in Church Hill.

If you re-elect me on 5th May I will work hard on these important issues and many more. I will always put Church Hill first, and I will always stand up for you.

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