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No green belt land needed for homes, insists Mayor Andy Street

By Richard Guttridge | Environment | Published:

No green belt land needs to be built on over the next decade in the Black Country despite the huge level of demand for housing, Mayor Andy Street declared today.

Midlands Mayor Andy Street, front left, is joined by MP Stuart Anderson and councillors to launch his Green Belt Pledge

Mr Street said he believed the thousands of homes needed by 2031 could be provided by exclusively building on previously developed sites.

Launching his 'Green Belt Pledge', the Mayor said he would do everything in his power to ensure the countryside is protected.

Mr Street said following a review of the latest population projections he believes it is possible to "close the gap" between the number of houses needed and the total which can be built on brownfield sites, "so no green belt development should be required in the Black Country between now and at least 2031".

His insistence that no green belt land should be built on goes against the views of housing experts who have said it is inevitable some sites will have to be released to fulfil the massive demand for housing over the next two decades, and may raise eyebrows among council planners. Some 70,000 homes must be built by 2038 to keep pace with the rising population.

The Seven Cornfields is under threat of development

Seven Cornfields in Penn, Wolverhampton, and Foxcote Farm in Wollescote, Stourbridge, are among high-profile green belt sites currently at risk from developers.

Another 26 green belt sites were classed as "low harm" in a recent green belt study, suggesting they could potentially be let go for housing.

The Mayor, who is up for re-election in May, has no direct control over planning policy but has pledged to work with councils and seek Government funding in an attempt to make it as difficult as possible for developers to get permission to build in the countryside.

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He vowed to fight the controversial Seven Cornfields development, where 1,300 homes could be built on 240 acres between Wolverhampton and Dudley, which has sparked a backlash locally.

Mr Street said he would push the Government for an initial £200 million of further funding to clean up derelict and contaminated sites across the Black Country. A barrier to building on derelict sites is often the costs involved for developers to prepare them.

He also said he would "block the use of any West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) funds for unacceptable green belt development" and create a team of "urban density specialists" to help councils and developers increase the number of homes they can build on brownfield sites and in town centres.

WATCH: More on the campaign

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No green belt land needed for homes, insists Mayor Andy Street

Mr Street said: “Across the Black Country, at much-loved places like the Seven Cornfields, Foxcote Farm in Wollescote, and Tack Farm in Halesowen, residents are fighting to stop developers taking away their valued open spaces.

“The Black Country is leading the way in reclaiming derelict brownfield areas to build new homes and the fact is we have plenty of such sites. For this reason, and having looked at population projections, I do not believe there should be any new green belt development in the Black Country between now and at least 2031.

“I would rather see new family homes built on cleaned-up brownfield sites in the Black Country, or new apartments built in Birmingham city centre, than diggers tearing apart our green belt.

“My Green Belt Pledge lets the people of the Black Country know that the Mayor will be on their side when it comes to fighting unwanted proposals from developers.”

Richard Guttridge

By Richard Guttridge
Investigations Editor - @RichG_star

Investigations Editor for the Express & Star.

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