Black Country Plan: 19,500 people have say on plans to redevelop large parts of region

Nearly 20,000 people have had their say on controversial plans to build thousands of homes across the Black Country.

Areas such as Holbeache Lane, in Kingswinford could be sold off to developers for housing as part of the plan
Areas such as Holbeache Lane, in Kingswinford could be sold off to developers for housing as part of the plan

More than 19,500 people from across the region responded to the Black Country Plan consultation, with more than two thirds coming from Dudley borough residents and the vast majority objecting to plans to build on the green belt.

In total 13,490 of the 19,500 responses relate to Dudley borough sites and, in addition, seven of the 10 petitions were from Dudley borough and contained 7,888 signatures.

The plan will see more than 7,000 houses go up on the land under the Black Country Plan as part of a target of 76,000 homes needed by 2039.

Key greenfield sites, like the Seven Cornfields on the Wolverhampton-Dudley border, North Canalside in Smethwick and Yieldsfield Farm in Bloxwich, are among those under threat from development.

Council leaders had said they were not supposed to influence the consultation process but almost all have gone on the record previously to say they opposed building on the green belt.

Public consultations were held at places such as Kingswood's Summerhill School to discuss the Black Country Plan

This includes Patrick Harley, the Conservative leader of Dudley Council, who has been joined in his opposition to greenbelt housing plans by local Tory MPs and the Conservative mayor of the region Andy Street. That is despite the housing targets being set by the Conservative government.

The £560,000 cost of preparing the Black Country Plan review was funded jointly by the four Black Country councils and an external grant from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.

The consultation, which ran for eight weeks last year, asked for views on future housing and employment developments across the Black Country.

The vast majority of feedback called for a number of proposed greenbelt developments in Dudley borough should be taken out of the plan.

Councils across the Black Country are currently sifting through the data but a report into Dudley’s findings, so far, is due to be discussed at the Future Council Scrutiny committee on March 2.

Dudley Council leader Patrick Harley said it was extremely encouraging to see the number of people who had spoken up about the Black Country Plan

Councillor Harley said: "I am grateful to everyone who took the time to have their say on this important document.

"The views of thousands of people cannot be ignored that plans to build on the greenbelt in Dudley borough should be thrown out.

"The majority of the objections cited potential transportation issues and impact on our road network as reasons for the sites to be discounted.

"We are currently awaiting detailed transport modelling evidence over the coming weeks when we may be presented with even more evidence allowing us to reconsider these sites.

"We have already made it clear that we are a brownfield-first authority and this feedback from the consultation means we have to accelerate that."

The four Black Country authorities hope to publish the consultation responses online within the next month.

The updated Black Country Plan will be published this summer (2022) when all Black Country authorities will be asked to approve an eight-week consultation on the new plan.

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