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Boris Johnson backs campaign to save Wolverhampton green belt

By Jamie Brassington | Wolverhampton | Politics | Published:

Boris Johnson has backed the Save the Seven Cornfields campaign, which is opposing plans to build 1,300 homes on green belt land in Wolverhampton.

Stuart Anderson, left, with Boris Johnson, right, holding placards saying 'Save the Cornfields!'

The campaign has made it all the way to No 10 Downing Street after the proposals were met with a huge backlash from concerned residents.

The Prime Minister met with Stuart Anderson, the Conservative parliamentary candidate for Wolverhampton South West, in London where they spoke about the campaign.

The proposals are to build 1,300 homes on the 284-acre Seven Cornfields site, an area of green belt which borders Wolverhampton, Dudley and south Staffordshire.

The proposed map of the corn fields

Mr Anderson said: "After I heard last week from the developers how long these discussions had been on going, I had a very real concern that building was going to take place on the Seven Cornfields.

"I was able to get a meeting with the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, to raise this as a major concern and get his support.

"Although this is a local issue and the decisions sit with the local councils involved, I wanted to get as much support as possible.

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"It is vital we do all we can to raise as much awareness about this and the concerns of the local residents.

"I will continue to raise awareness and look to get all of the local councils to remove this from any consultations, plans and look to protect it long term."

Green belt areas are designed to prevent urban sprawl and keep neighbouring towns open by keeping the land permanently open.

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There are 14 green belt areas in England and one of the largest is that around the West Midlands, which the Seven Cornfields is on the inside edge of.

The Government says green belt areas "should only be altered where exceptional circumstances are fully evidenced and justified," but leaves it down to local authorities to define and maintain green belt land in their local areas.

Vandalism

Mr Johnson is the latest politician to back the campaign after Dudley North MP Ian Austin announced his support.

Mr Austin toured the site on Wednesday night after residents in his constituency contacted him for support.

Ian Austin, left, and resident Tony Proctor, right

Mr Austin said: "Building on these fields would be an appalling act of vandalism.

"No one wants to see the land between Sedgley, Penn, Baggeridge and Wombourne swallowed up with new housing

"I'm going to do all I can to support local residents to prevent this land being used for housing.

"We need more housing, but there are lots of brownfield sites in the Black Country which should be used."

The campaign led to a public meeting, which was being held last night at St Bart's Church, Penn, after it was organised by Wolverhampton MPs Eleanor Smith and Pat McFadden.

Scrutiny

There was a political row on Wednesday after Labour-led Wolverhampton Council denied a request from Conservative Penn councillor Paul Singh for an urgent question to be made at a full meeting of the council that night.

Councillor Singh wanted to ask if the council would do everything possible to prevent the fields being built upon. However the request to ask this question was refused.

Mr Anderson said it was outrageous that "Labour had blocked scrutiny of the council".

However councillor Martin Waite, a member of the council's planning committee, and a fellow councillor for Penn, offered an explanation, saying the council could not declare its stance, as this could be used against the council when deciding over future planning applications.

Campaigners have since called for unity between all parties in a bid to strengthen their cause.

Jamie Brassington

By Jamie Brassington
Senior Multi-Media Journalist - @JamieB_Star

Senior reporter at the Express & Star. Contact me at jamie.brassington@expressandstar.co.uk.

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