Building on green belt inevitable, says council
Green belt land in South Staffordshire will have to be built on in order to meet a housing shortage, council bosses have admitted.
Plans for developments on the edge of the Black Country have sparked fury and led to campaigns to try and stop them.
But council leaders in South Staffordshire say they will have no choice but to allow developers to build on some green belt land.
More than 8,000 homes are expected to be built in the district over the next two decades to help towards meeting the housing demand for the wider region.
A plan to build 1,300 homes at the 240-acre Seven Cornfields site near Wolverhampton has proved the most contentious. There is also anger about proposals for 600 homes near The Straits, Lower Gornal.
A new council document on its housing strategy said developments on green belt sites were inevitable as such a large part of the district is rural. Officials are planning for a large chunk of its extra housing to be "extensions" to the Black Country, but will also have to identify other sites near villages for 60 per cent of the housing needed.
Hundreds of homes would be built near Codsall and Bilbrook, Wombourne and Penkridge under the council's current strategy.
An identified disadvantage of its preferred housing strategy is that it will "likely require allocations in Green Belt areas of high or very high harm in Codsall/Bilbrook and north of the Black Country conurbation".
Counties surrounding the Black Country and Birmingham have been asked to help meet the region's housing needs due to the lack of available space in these mostly urban areas. Chiefs in South Staffordshire have said they intend to do so.
The report said: "It is clear that the council’s housing target and desire to pursue the infrastructure-led strategy set out in (preferred option) spatial option G will only be deliverable if green belt is released to deliver additional housing land in the district.
"In light of the acuteness and intensity of these housing shortfalls and the need to deliver a sustainable pattern of development, the council feels it is right to continue to test a contribution of up to 4,000 dwellings towards the unmet needs of the wider GBHMA (Greater Birmingham Housing Market Area). It is highly likely that this will require some degree of green belt release within the district.
"In light of these factors, the council’s current position is that further green belt release will likely be required in the district in order to ensure the district provides enough homes for both its own needs and a proportionate contribution to the unmet needs of the GBHMA."