Tory MP warns Black Country's green belt could be lost forever without planning reforms

A Tory MP says the Black Country Plan "failed us all" as she warned ministers the green belt will be "lost forever" without planning reforms.

Aldridge-Brownhills MP Wendy Morton and Councillor Tim Wilson
Aldridge-Brownhills MP Wendy Morton and Councillor Tim Wilson

Wendy Morton said the now-collapsed plan, which earmarked land across the four boroughs for 77,000 homes, would have "decimated the green belt for executive housing".

The Aldridge-Brownhills MP also claimed ministers had "failed" local areas by imposing unrealistic housing targets.

The Black Country Plan was axed at a cost of £2 million after Dudley Council pulled out in a bid to protect green belt sites around Kingswinford.

Mrs Morton told the Star: "We want to see an end to top-down housing targets, destruction of our green belt and our locally elected councillors being over-ruled by faceless bureaucrats who sit behind desks with no understanding of our local needs or agreed plans."

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Her intervention came after Rishi Sunak pulled a vote on the Levelling Up Bill, scheduled for Monday, after 46 Tory MPs – including Mrs Morton – backed an amendment to scrap mandatory local housing targets for councils.

Mrs Morton, who was Chief Whip under Liz Truss, said concerns she had raised over plans to build 1,500 homes on land off Aldridge Road were ignored, while questions over school places, GP surgeries and infrastructure had not been addressed.

She said she failed to see how "four- or five-bedroomed detached houses in one of the most expensive parts of my constituency would solve the housing crisis in our country".

"I want the next generation of homeowners to have my start in life, to be able to get on the property ladder at the first opportunity," she said.

"However, the previously proposed Black Country Plan to decimate our green belt in favour of executive housing will do nothing for the future generations of homeowners, indeed it will only succeed in further destroying the aspirations of that generation."

She also called for reform of the Planning Inspectorate and warned: "If we get this wrong our green belt will be lost forever, and we will fail in our ambition to realise economic growth."

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