Express & Star

'Precious’ green space in Wolverhampton saved from the hands of developers

Campaigners are celebrating after the Wolverhampton Environment Centre was saved from development.

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Victory! Councillors Wendy Thompson, Jonathan Crofts and Ellis Turrell with campaigners John Rowley, Steve Vanstone, Terry Holdcroft and Melissa Cook with Roxy

More than 1,000 people got involved in the effort to reverse Wolverhampton Council’s decision to include the parkland in the Local Plan to build homes in the city.

Leader of the Conservatives on the council Tettenhall and Wightwick Councillor Wendy Thompson said she was “overjoyed” with the victory.

She said: “Everyone is so delighted the council have finally given a definitive decision to remove this precious green space from the Local Plan.

“The WEC should never have been included in a development plan, the intention to build homes on the site should never have even surfaced because it makes no sense at all.

“Just over 10 per cent of Wolverhampton is green space so every single piece of parkland is precious and that’s why so many people visit the WEC.”

She added: “It was not easy to get the council to give a definitive answer on this issue so that’s why so many people are greatly relieved.

“We had so much support for this campaign from the community and local residents, more than 1,000 people got involved and I’d like to thank all of them for their efforts.

“There would have been so many issues if development had gone ahead, when you saw the wedge of land planned for development it would have created so many problems with construction work and traffic.” Tettenhall Wightwick Councillor Ellis Turrell also worked on the campaign to save the WEC.

He said: “This precious piece of green belt land forms part of the Smestow Valley Nature Reserve and it is used by many people far and wide who come to enjoy its natural beauty.

“We have fiercely campaigned against the council’s plans to build homes here and we’ve finally won.

“Special thanks to those who have led the community fightback over the years. When local residents come together, this shows we can make a difference in our area.”

Increasing demand for new homes in the West Midlands led to the creation of the Black Country Plan which earmarked 79,000 new properties across Wolverhampton, Dudley, Sandwell and Walsall.

However, over 7,000 homes were planned to be built on green belt land which sparked a huge backlash from environmental campaigners determined to block the plan.

Dudley Council subsequently pulled out of the Black Country Plan but the need for new housing remains. Wolverhampton Council leader Councillor Ian Brookfield has promised to utilise the swathes of brownfield land in the city to build new homes instead of the green belt.

He said: “Our focus is on developing brownfield sites, which we have an excellent track record in doing when funding is available to remediate the land, such as Bilston Urban Village, Springfield Campus and Canalside.”