Express & Star comment: Growing threat to green belt
The threat to green belt land across the Black Country and Staffordshire grows by the day.
While local authorities have tried to avoid developing the green belt over the last two decades, there is a real danger that the region’s chronic housing shortage is forcing them into some extremely difficult decisions.
The latest plot to be earmarked for housing is in Perton, where 587 homes are being considered under put forward by South Staffordshire Council.
It could potentially see Perton playing fields, a small field at Boundary Farm in nearby Wightwick, and land off the A41 Wergs Road transformed into a housing estate.
Understandably, this is all very worrying for residents, who consider the land to hold a vital role for the area.
It is used for recreation by thousands of people each week, and for many the prospect of losing it is simply too much to bear.
The site is the latest in a long line of plots across the reason that has come under consideration for development in recent months.
The battle to save Seven Cornfields from a scheme to build 1,300 homes is still ongoing, while this year has also seen proposals unveiled for 1,500 houses on a sprawling site in Walsall.
Sadly, even if these schemes never go ahead, there is an air of inevitability about future green belt development.
Put simply, the region does not have enough homes to cater for its growing population.
The Black Country in particular is in dire need of new dwellings.
But the local plans that are currently in place rely on the remediation of former brownfield sites – which is both costly and time consuming.
The only way to prevent green belt development is for the region to invest heavily in bringing its old industrial sites back into use.
A lot of good work in this area has been started under the guidance of West Midlands Mayor Andy Street, but significant government funding will be required for it to continue.
Everyone understands the need for more homes, but for many, destroying the green belt is too high a price to pay.