Angry residents call for sites to be dropped from Black Country housing plan

Dozens of angry residents vented their feelings against plans to build hundreds of homes on greenbelt land as part of the Black Country Plan.

The meeting at Kingswood's Summerhill School to discuss the Black Country Plan
The meeting at Kingswood's Summerhill School to discuss the Black Country Plan

Campaign groups in Kingswinford have been up in arms that green spaces including The Triangle in Swindon Road and land off Holbeache Lane have been earmarked for than 860 homes over the next two decades.

At a consultation meeting organised by Dudley Council, residents told planners they did not want to lose countryside and had concerns about the impact on roads, climate change, health and education services.

The chair of the meeting, Dudley South MP Mike Wood, called on them to list highways as a priority issue with some routes already under pressure, including high streets in Wordsley, Kingswinford and Wall Health.

He told the meeting, held at Summerhill School, that if the proposed schemes go ahead it will mean around 2,000 new homes will go up in the area within the next 20 years as several other sites are already due to be developed.

Jane Round, of Wall Heath, was applauded when she said: "If you are thinking of building in 20 to 30 years' time, you need to be thinking of radical housing design. I think those going up now for example in Stallings Lane, are obsolete already.

"They don't have features such as roof fittings for water recycling. You are building high end housing for commuters with jobs in Birmingham, Kidderminster and Worcester who will be coming to live in our nice countryside area while we lose ours."

Ben Fitzharris, of Mount Pleasant, said: "It seems like madness to be targeting green belt land when there are brownfield sites. Merry Hill is empty at the moment. I think we need more affordable homes in this area. I don't know if you can find a house around here for less than £250,000. I can't."

The council's regeneration and enterprise director Helen Martin replied that the Covid pandemic had made an impact: "Merry Hill's owners have a £50 million investment plan to make it a success. There will be a change to the town centre and how they operate."

Andrea Smith, of Kingswinford, was one of several at the meeting who asked why it had taken so long for consultation leaflets and information to be rolled out in the community.

"On September 1 we went to a (council) scrutiny meeting and it had taken until September 27 for consultation with the residents many of whom have still not received things in the post after all this time. It is annoying."

Planning manager Carl Mellor replied: "We have a deadline and there are paper copies of the consultation form that people will get in good time. A lot of people are working hard to get them out."

Speaking afterwards Mr Wood told the Express & Star: "The meeting went really well. I could see the strength of feeling, the emotion in people saying that these are the wrong sites and we want them to be taken out of the plan.

"I am genuinely optimistic. I think we can win this one. I think we can persuade them that there are better options, not just looking to build in the greenbelt due to the pressures on all our local services."

The situation is currently being mirrored across the Black Country, and neighbouring Staffordshire and Shropshire where similar local plans are being put forward.

Public consultation over the Black Country Plan will close on October 11.

Under the proposals 7,000 houses will go up on green belt land in a bid to hit what councils say is an unrealistic target of 76,000 homes in the region by 2039.

Top Stories

More from the Express & Star

UK & International News