The application approved on Wednesday is the latest phase of Bellway Homes’ development on land west of Pye Green Road, Hednesford, where hundreds of new houses are being built. The site also includes a new primary school, care home and local centre providing retail space.
Access to the 78 homes in the latest proposals will be provided by the road serving Poppyfield Primary Academy and the local service centre.
But at Wednesday’s planning committee meeting a nearby resident raised concerns about the access and the siting of most of the affordable properties in one area of the site.
Dennis Spencer told committee members: “I’m not opposed to the plan in general or affordable housing but let’s spread it out.
“The northern end is separate from the rest of the development and located there are 13 out of 14 affordable houses. Government policy and planning recommendations are this should be at least integrated within the overall development.
“I have never seen a development so acutely divided and separated. The density of housing on that small part is considerably more than the rest of the site.
“At 9am and between 3pm and 3.30pm every school day the road is blocked with cars trying to turn. I watched a mother walk down Pye Green Road with a pushchair and part of the footpath was only a metre wide. Cars were going by and splashing her – it was a recipe for disaster.
“Can we look at improving safety for parents with children and the location of the affordable housing?”
Councillor Andrea Muckley, who chaired the meeting, also spoke out against the location of the majority of the affordable housing in one place.
She said: “I feel this development is ghettoising people in the affordable development. They’re completely by themselves.
“It is a real shame from an equality and diversity perspective and it’s completely wrong. We are ghettoising people that should be living in the same group. We should all be equal.
But fellow committee members voted to approve the proposals including the layout, landscaping and access.
Councillor Adrienne Fitzgerald said: “At the end of the day we need more housing for residents in Cannock Chase.”
Kathy Else, who spoke in support of the application, said: “Walsall Housing Group will be taking over the affordable housing units and we are committed to providing them. We have worked with Walsall Housing Group and the council to make sure we are providing the right kind and type of affordable housing.
“In terms of the style of housing it has been informed by the housing association and what it requires. Siting the units together means they can maintain and look after the whole area of the development – it saves them money and allows them to look after things much better.
“(Relocating affordable housing) would require a fundamental change to the scheme we are proposing. If you were talking about a 100% affordable housing scheme there would be no criticism of ghettoism.
“We are often advised to locate affordable housing closer to facilities, public transport and good access to walking routes and car parking. When you consider the scheme as a whole you see these homes are being located close to the local centre with good access to open spaces – what these residents will need in the future.
“We have sought to improve linkages through the site. This will include providing a footpath along the part of Pye Green Road which is within our land control.”