Save our Saltwells! Campaigners rally against nature reserve homes plan

Dozens of furious campaigners descended on a Black Country nature reserve to voice opposition to controversial plans for homes.

People turn out to protest at Saltwells Nature Reserve, Dudley, over a potential housing development
People turn out to protest at Saltwells Nature Reserve, Dudley, over a potential housing development

The group arrived at Saltwells Nature Reserve, in Dudley, armed with petitions and banners calling on plans for nine large four and five-bedroom homes to be scrapped.

The homes would be built on the site of the old manor house, which was demolished in 2010, while concrete would also be put down over the open land in the form of a car park. Agents who have prepared the proposals said the site ‘is considered as a prime location’ to build homes.

Watch footage of the protest here:

But angry residents officially launched their campaign against the plans yesterday after receiving the backing of West Midlands Police on Monday.

Lesley Dunn, the campaign group’s co-ordinator, said: “There is such a strength of feeling opposing the development in the centre of Saltwells Wood.

“This is our countryside and it will be opposed. I cannot think of a single person in Dudley that will be in favour of it.

“There will still be some wood left but this development is right in the middle and there will be a significant impact.

“In four days we have got 2,700 people on the Facebook group. The online petition has 5,500 signatures in less than a week.

“People love this area, this is our countryside. I cannot believe Dudley Council would want the nature reserve to be damaged in any way.

“This is the beginning of the campaign to save our wood and save our nature reserve. To build a housing development in the middle of the wood will irretrievably damage the wood and there is obviously a knock on effect for the nature reserve.

“It is unnecessary. We have so many reasons to object. It is wrong and it is not going to happen.

“Our ultimate aim is to stop thoughts of any development happening in the wood.”

Another resident at the gathering, who wished to remain anonymous, added: “We walk over here most days. It would just be awful because there is nowhere local where that we can walk the dogs that is safe.

“It would just be really wrong to do it.”

Also speaking at the protest was Dudley councillor Chris Barnett, who said he hoped the plans would be thrown out.

He added: “It has galvanised the local community into action as they are trying to protect the woods. In the end we would hope that there is enough for the planning application to be rejected.”

The protest came after more than 5,500 people signed a petition to stop the homes being built on the former site of the historic Saltwells House.

West Midlands Police is among those objecting to the plans. It has said the site’s isolation would leave it ‘prone to burglaries’ and said it could see spates of anti-social behaviour. Officer Manson, of the Force Crime Reduction Unit, also said the entrance to the site, which is currently closed off, could become a spot for fly tipping if opened up.

In a letter to Dudley Council’s planning committee on Monday, officer Manson said: “If these nine houses are built this will be a crime generator which will attract unwanted attention and will see more calls of service to the police for this area.

“If this was in another area and better sited I would have no issues.

“The access road to this development is from Pedmore Road which is a main dual carriageway, which suffers from speeding vehicles, hence the speed camera sited near to the access point.

“Vehicles entering this access road would have to slow down to gain access to the access road which does not have a feeder lane into the access road. This potentially could be an accident hot spot.”

Alongside the online petition, campaigners have also set up a Facebook group called Save Saltwells Nature Reserve to strengthen their protest, with the group already boasting more than 2,700 members.

To sign the petition visit change.org and search for the nature reserve.

To join the group visit Facebook and search Save Saltwells Nature Reserve.

Birmingham based KB Extruders is behind the application and has insisted no protected or healthy trees will be destroyed.

A spokesman added: “The purpose of the scheme is to enhance the area where there once stood a dilapidated country house, that was causing contamination from asbestos, along with vandalism and potential squatters, all causing a safety concern.

“This is an extremely high-quality scheme, with great consideration given to the look, feel and character of the homes.

“These are smart eco homes, designed to complement the environment within which they will sit.”

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