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Councils accused of hiding greenbelt protection from campaigners

By George Makin | Dudley | Property | Published:

A campaigner has claimed Black Country councils are putting the countryside at risk by not publicising powers to protect areas of special importance to communities.

Foxcote Farm in Wollescote has been suggested as a site for 1500 homes. Photo: Gaye Partridge

Dudley councillor Gaye Partridge has said time is running out to protect the greenbelt from housing projects as a deadline for public submissions draws close.

Saying campaigners have until August 20 to apply for a local green space designation she said: "Nothing has been done to tell communities and groups of this extra protection and time is running out."

"Local green spaces are one of the very, very few planning mechanisms that allows a community to stake a claim on land that is important to it."

Councillor Partridge is fighting to save Foxcote Farm which lies between Wollescote and Cradley Heath where developers want to build 1,500 homes

The proposal is part of the Black Country Plan – an 18-year regional strategy for commercial and housing developments in Sandwell, Wolverhampton, Walsall and Dudley.

A draft version published last year included over 300 proposed developments, many on existing green belt land or open green spaces.

It lead to a flood of protests by residents and conservationists opposed to building on the countryside.

Councillor Partridge says communities now have only days to submit representations calling for land to be protected.

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"Unless groups are talking to council officers already then they won’t know that this protection can happen.”

"This has been buried in a sub regional consultation process that most people don’t know about.

"The first thing people will know is when they come to steam roller you into oblivion."

Developers have argued the Black Country will needed 27, 000 new homes by 2038.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic a public consultation on the strategy has been postponed until next year.

Details of – and representations to – the plan can be made by visiting Black Country Plan's website.

George Makin

By George Makin

Local Democracy Reporting Service

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