Walsall residents fear loss of ‘tranquil’ green belt under homes plan

People fear vital services in their area will become even more stretched if a ‘tranquil’ haven for wildlife in Walsall is lost to housing.

Councillors and residents worried about the potential loss of Green Belt land in Skip Lane, Walsall. PIC: Gurdip Thandi LDR
Councillors and residents worried about the potential loss of Green Belt land in Skip Lane, Walsall. PIC: Gurdip Thandi LDR

Residents and councillors have voiced their opposition to the inclusion of Green Belt land behind a number of houses in Skip Lane in the controversial Black Country Plan.

As well as the devastation to animals, wildlife and trees, they said there is a lack of school places in the area, traffic issues and pressure on GP services which would only get worse if the plan is agreed.

People are now being urged to attend a ‘drop-in’ information session about the proposal on Tuesday.

The Black Country Plan states that 76,000 new homes and 560 hectares of land for jobs needs to be found in Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall and Wolverhampton by 2039.

In Walsall, it is proposed enough land is needed to build an extra 13,344 new houses – 5,418 of which are on Green Belt – and 164 hectares for employment use.

In phase one of the plan, a number of sites were consulted on but it was then announced three additional sites in Walsall were being put forward and are currently being consulted on.

Fred Garbett, who has lived in Skip Lane for 20 years, said: “I was surprised when this was put forward. We have always been told it is Green Belt and it wasn’t in the initial draft plans for the Black Country.

“The road here is very busy and to have 130-extra families trying to come in and out will cause mayhem.

“We don’t have enough green space particularly next to urban developments. If you look at the beauty, it is something to be preserved. It is very peaceful.”

Nazrana Kausar said: “We are very concerned about the infrastructure around it and the impact it will have.

“We are all for additional housing and there is a national shortage but you’ve got to get it in the right place.

“There will be a huge new community living here and have got the resources for everywhere. How are they going to increase the services to cope with that?”

Sarbjeet Padda added: “It’s difficult to get into the doctor’s surgery, schooling, the traffic turns into a rat race when there is a problem on the A34.

“And have you noticed since lockdown how many different insects, birds and animals we can see and hear? But all that’s going to be gone again. This is their home so where will they go?”

And fellow resident Asha Rattu said “You’ve got all these beautiful trees and we have a bat community. Nature is very important.

“This is tranquil and you don’t even realise it is here. That’s why we came to live here. I used to live on a busy road and here is a complete contrast.”

Paddock ward councillor Waheed Rasab said he and his colleagues were calling on the Mayor of West Midlands Andy Street to intervene and block this.

He said: “We need to save our Green Belt. Once it is gone it is never going to come back.

“They are looking at 135 homes, many will have two cars, one or two children – where are they going to go?

“We have a number of residents who can’t get into the school and are waiting. Even my colleague Gurmeet Singh Sohal, his grandson is going to Blackwood School because he can’t get into Park Hall.

“Skip Lane is a very busy road and there will be more traffic while residents contact us telling us they bought the houses with the beautiful view and they will lose all that.

“We really don’t need this development. We urge people to use the brownfield sites first.

“We call on the West Midlands Mayor Andy Street to intervene and stop the loss of Green Belt to housing.”

The drop in session will take place on Tuesday, August 16 from 2pm to 7pm at Broadway United Reformed Church on Gillity Avenue.

People have to submit comments about the additional sites by 5pm on Monday, September 5. These should be sent to blackcountryplan@dudley.gov.uk or planningpolicy@walsall.gov.uk.

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