Express & Star

Developer bids to overturn rejection of 'harmful' 150-home scheme on green belt land

A developer has appealed a decision by the council to reject its plan to build 150 homes on the Black Country’s green belt.


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A plan by Wain Estates would have seen the huge estate built off Wilderness Lane in Great Barr but the application was rejected by Sandwell Council in January.

Wain Estates has now appealed to the government’s planning inspectorate, which has the power to overrule the local authority, in a bid to get the plans reviewed and the decision overturned.

Earlier this year, the authority’s planners said the application was “inappropriate” and “harmful” and it would not support the destruction of trees, hedges and plants in one of Sandwell’s most important green spaces.

The homes would have been built on nearly ten acres of land designated as an important site for conservation.

“There are a significant number of alternative sites outside of the green belt with less harmful impacts on biodiversity that could accommodate the applicant’s proposal,” the council’s planner said.

The new houses would have taken up around 15 per cent of the 67-acre green belt site and the remaining space would have been mostly left alone and turned into a countryside park.

As much as 40 per cent of the new homes would have been classed as ‘affordable’ housing – higher than the 25 per cent that Sandwell Council usually asks for.

The developer had argued the 150-home plan would have helped address a “chronic shortage” across Sandwell with Sandwell Council saying it only has enough land for housing to meet demand for the next 18 months – far below the five years it should be able to show it has.

The application by planning consultants Turley on behalf of landowner Wain Estates said that while the land was part of the green belt and open countryside, much of the housebuilding would take place near the already built-up areas around Wilderness Lane, Peak House Road and A34 Birmingham Road.

The land was put forward as a potential site for up to 355 new homes when the Black Country Plan was being put together – but was not accepted after it was deemed ‘unsuitable’ to give up green belt land.

The Black Country Plan, which would set out where up to 76,000 homes would have been built across Sandwell, Dudley and Walsall by 2039, has since been ripped up and Sandwell Council is working on its own plan – which is likely to carry over some of the aborted work.