The stunning green spaces that face destruction to make way for thousands of houses

It is a sea of green across the region – and it could be wiped from the map if controversial housing plans are signed off.

Residents near the Calderfields area of Walsall are against the plans for housing
Residents near the Calderfields area of Walsall are against the plans for housing

The Black Country Plan, which is out to public consultation until Monday, could see 7,720 homes built on green belt sites in a drive to meet the region’s housing need over the next two decades.

Other beloved green field sites which do not come under the green belt are also facing the bulldozer, as part of a plan that will see thousands of acres of land sacrificed for homes and employment.

Since the draft plan was first published in June it has been met with a wave of opposition all across the region.

Worcester Lane, Stourbridge, is earmarked for dozens of homes

Numerous campaign groups have been formed, including in Walsall, which has the largest number of homes allocated to green belt sites.

At Calderfields West, off Aldridge Road, a 46-acre site between the golf course and Walsall Arboretum has been earmarked for 592 homes.

Bobbi Owen, who is campaigning against the plans, said turning the site into a housing estate would destroy a precious wildlife corridor, put pressure on local services and leave roads congested.

At Calderfields, Walsall, nearly all of the fields in this photo are earmarked for housing

She said: “The infrastructure around here cannot possibly support this size of development. Local people do not want it. We want to protect our green belt and force building on brownfield before any green belt can be released.”

She added that she had “no confidence” that planners would take on board any concerns raised by campaigners, as the consultation process had “left a lot to be desired”.

Just a few miles away on Doe Bank Lane residents are up in arms about the prospect of a huge tranche of green belt land being developed for nearly 1,000 homes.

Councillor Chris Towe and local residents against the plans for housing on land off Doe Bank Lane, Pheasey

The site – which was first touted in 2019 as the grand sounding Columba Park estate – sits between Pheasey and Streetly. Campaigners say if it is built over the area will be transformed into one vast conurbation.

They say that any development will wipe out a precious green space, kill off wildlife habitats and pile untold pressure on local infrastructure including schools and health services.

Although it is not the first time the sprawling plot has been in the cross hairs of developers, residents fear that this time their objections are falling on deaf ears.

David Bull, who lives on Queslett Road East, said: “The consultation has been an absolute farce. People were not notified about it and when you actually see it you are presented with a lot of confusing forms.

“It is not succinct and it is my belief that it is all a smokescreen. This is going to happen. It’s a done deal.”

Doe Bank Lane, Pheasey

Steve Lilly, from Pomeroy Road, has been campaigning against green belt development alongside his partner Ellie.

He has raised concerns with the council over the environmental impact of the plans, which he says will destroy the natural habitats of bats and several bird species, plants and insects.

There are also massive implications regarding traffic and pollution, he added, with the area simply unable to cope with a daily spike of thousands of extra cars joining the Aldridge Road rush hour.

Mr Lilly has handed in a 4,760-signature petition to the council calling for the scheme to be scrapped.

Doe Bank Lane resident Jessica Doyle said schools in the area were so over-subscribed she had already registered her newborn for the local primary.

She said: “I look at my little girl and think, what will the kids in this area have to grow up to? There will be no green space left.”

Land next to Painswick Close Sub Station, near the Yew Tree area of Walsall could go

Meanwhile Jenny Hulme said there were many residents who were still unaware of the plans. The consultation process had largely excluded those without IT, she said, while access to hard copies of documents had been limited.

“The way this whole procedure has been conducted is a disgrace,” she added.

Their frustrations are not lost on ward councillor Chris Towe, who sits on Walsall Council’s ruling cabinet.

Like many elected members across the region he finds himself caught between a rock and a hard place, in that he opposes green belt development but knows that homes have to be built somewhere.

“We are being told that if brownfield is not available then we have to look at the green belt, which is a view we are challenging as councillors,” he said.

The former Brandhall Golf Course, Oldbury

In Sandwell, councillors and residents are battling to save the site of the former Brandhall Golf Club, which has been lined up for 560 homes.

Councillor Jay Anandou said: "Residents across Langley, Bristnall and Old Warley are strongly against building any concrete structures on the pristine green space which is a source of river tame, bat habitat, over 30 variety of birds, newts, fresh water shrimps and a medieval structure which the housing developments intend to destroy.

"Destroying a green space dear to the community is a sacrilege - especially when there are a number of brownfield sites in Sandwell to take care of the housing needs for at least 10 years."

The 'Triangle' off Kidderminster Road, Kingswinford, which could be full of housing

Meanwhile campaigners in Kingswinford are opposing developments totalling 860 homes at The Triangle and Holbeache Lane, while in Stourbridge efforts are underway to block housing developments at Wollaston Farm and Worcester Lane.

An aerial photo of The Grapes pool area off Moseley Road, Bilston

In Wolverhampton politicians have joined forces with residents to oppose building on the Grapes Pool field in Bilston.

Pat McFadden MP said: "We need new housing in the city, but there are many brownfield sites and former industrial buildings which would be far better suited to new housing than the Grapes Pool field."

Meetings held across the Black Country in recent weeks have done little to allay residents’ concerns, with many now seeing the loss of green belt sites as inevitable.

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