Another 820 homes lined up for green belt in Black Country Plan expansion

The controversial Black Country Plan has been expanded to include more than 800 extra homes on green belt land.

Land at Calderfields, next to Walsall Arboretum, has been lined up for development in the plan
Land at Calderfields, next to Walsall Arboretum, has been lined up for development in the plan

Council chiefs are set to launch a consultation on three sites – all in Walsall – which would increase the number of homes put forward for development on green belt sites to more than 8,500.

Bosses say the sites were missed off the original plan as they were put forward at a "late stage".

The additions could see 820 homes built.

They include land west of Chester Road in Streetly, which has been allocated for 655 homes, while land to the east of Skip Lane and north of Woodfield Close has been set aside for 135 homes.

A total of 30 homes could be built at the Pacific nurseries site east of Chester Road, Aldridge, where a separate field to the north has already been put forward for 228 homes.

Councillor Mike Bird, leader of Walsall Council, said: "We have to take into account all sites, even if they come in late, as is the case here.

"If we don't assess them the inspectorate can impose them upon us. The three sites that have been added came in at a late stage and have now been put forward for evaluation."

The BCP was published last year and details plans for the region to meet its housing need by 2039. It has set a target of 76,076 new homes and 565 hectares (1,396 acres) of employment land.

The inclusion of thousands of homes on green belt sites such as The Triangle in Kingswinford and land next to Walsall Arboretum led to a wave of protests across the region.

Around two thirds of the green belt sites allocated for housing are in Walsall.

Councillor Bird said he had instructed council officers to write to Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove to query the number of homes required in the plan.

"The problem we have in Walsall is that we have got more green belt than the other areas," he said.

"As I have said consistently, I don't think we need the quantity of houses that has been put forward. I am saying to the Government, 'show me the methodology' used because I don't think they have got it right."

The new sites must signed off by the ruling Cabinet of each Black Country authority before going out to public consultation. They were looked at by Walsall and Sandwell Councils on Wednesday night.

Walsall Council leader Mike Bird said his authority's hands were tied, and that Walsall would have to "bear the bulk of the housing" in controversial green belt areas.

A report commissioned by Mayor Andy Street, which is expected to show that brownfield sites have not been fully utilised, is expected to be made public imminently.

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