Walsall must 'bear the bulk' of green belt homes as plans for another 820 are revealed

The leader of a Black Country council says his authority's hands are tied when it comes to providing extra homes on green belt land.

Land next to Painswick Close Sub Station, near Yew Tree is one of the areas in the Walsall borough earmarked for housing
Land next to Painswick Close Sub Station, near Yew Tree is one of the areas in the Walsall borough earmarked for housing

Walsall Council leader Mike Bird made the comments at a Cabinet meeting on Wednesday evening, after it emerged that another 820 homes could be built on green space across the borough as part of the controversial Black Country Plan.

Council chiefs are set to launch a consultation on three sites. Land west of Chester Road in Streetly 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.

If approved, it would increase the number of homes put forward for development on green belt sites to more than 8,500.

Councillor Bird said he and the leaders of Sandwell, Dudley and Wolverhampton Councils had written to housing and communities minister Michael Gove recently questioning how many homes needed to be built in the Black Country.

But he again emphasised Walsall would have to "bear the bulk of the housing" in controversial green belt areas because the borough had more such land than the neighbouring boroughs.

"If we don't take into account all the sites, even the ones who come in late they can be imposed upon us by central government," he told councillors.

"As a collective we have written to Michael Gove questioning the maths that has gone into how many homes we have been instructed to build because we don't think it adds up but our hands are essentially tied."

"Much has been said about a site in Dudley being taken out of the plan and whether Walsall can do the same in certain areas but the only people who can take the site out of the plan is the landowners themselves and as such Dudley did so, the additional three sites which have been added will have to go through the same matrix as the others."

Deputy leader Adrian Andrew urged residents of the wards affected to take part in the consultation and make sure there views would be heard.

He said: "This takes place from July to September this year and it is important everyone does make their views known before the cabinet review in October and the final government consultation between November and December.

"We will listen to what people say and feed that back but we are working to targets that have been set by others, and those that don't live in the borough."

The new sites were signed Cabinet, meaning it can now go out to public consultation.

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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