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Dudley Council agrees to buy back Saltwell’s Nature Reserve

By George Makin | Netherton | News | Published:

Campaigners fighting to protect Saltwell’s Nature Reserve have won a major victory after Dudley Council agreed to buy land developers wanted to build on.

Saltwells Nature Reserve in Dudley

Members of the authority’s cabinet approved a recommendation to spend £162,000 bring the site of a former children’s home back into public ownership.

The decision has been welcomed by the Save Saltwell’s Nature Reserve Group as "great news" which will protect it for future generations.

A plan to build nine houses on land in Netherton was thrown out last year after a flood of protests with nearly a thousand objections from residents, conservationists and local councillors.

More than 10,000 people also signed an online petition opposing the plan.

Campaigners outside Dudley Council House in November 2018

The campaign group has since been lobbying the council to buy back the land to protect it from any future development.

A report to councillors this week said the site was sold in 2010 to the council’s development company, PSP Dudley LLP, following years of anti-social behaviour.

It stated: “However, a later planning application by a prospective buyer for the site for the development of residential dwellings was rejected on highways grounds as well as very strong local opposition to the development.

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“Consequently, to be absolutely sure that the site couldn’t be subjected to further applications for development in the future, it was thought prudent for the council to take back control of the land by re-acquiring it from the LLP which would then safeguard the site by enabling woodland to reclaim it.”

Kate Riggs, a spokesperson for the campaign, said: “The Save Saltwells Nature Reserve campaign has fought hard over the last 12 months to ensure that the planning application was refused.

“Since December 2018, we have been working with the council to make sure that the land, already in natural regeneration from the surrounding woodland, was made safe from any further threats.”

Thanking council leader Councillor Patrick Harley and councillors for their support, she added: “This would not have been possible without the overwhelming support of our local community and local councillors.

“We have had a huge cross party commitment throughout and to have the continued support from the the leader of the council in making this happen is the best news.”

George Makin

By George Makin
@GeorgePMakin

Local Democracy Reporter covering Sandwell and Dudley.

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