Dudley Labour group repeats call for green belt to be saved from development

The Labour group on Dudley Council says it is 'once again' calling for the removal of all green belt sites and green spaces from the Black Country Plan.

The move follows the decision made by a recent meeting of the Future Council Scrutiny Committee which recommended the removal of all green belt sites and green spaces from the Plan.

The Conservatives at the meeting had proposed green belt should be removed with Labour amending the recommendation to also include green spaces. Since the meeting the Council has begun to review the sites it proposed for inclusion.

Even though it will not produce a final list of sites until the Summer, it has now removed green belt sites on Guys Lane in Lower Gornal and grazing land at Wollaston Farm, Wollaston, on the basis that both sites are owned by the Council.

On behalf of the Labour Group, deputy leader, Councillor Judy Foster is supporting her constituents opposition to the sale of two Council owned green sites in her ward. These include land at Bryce Road earmarked for 115 houses and land at Severn Drive, earmarked for 15 homes. Cllr Foster said:

‘’The Labour group are really pleased that they have been able to force the Council to make a u-turn on the two green belt sites at Guys Lane and Wollaston Farm, however this is still not enough and the Council needs to do more.

"We now repeat our call for the removal of all green spaces and green belt from the plan and as we have seen, it is in the gift of the Council to make a start by removing those sites it owns, including those in my own ward.

"There is absolutely no need to build on these sites as there is sufficient derelict land, where the Council with developers can build homes. The issue seems to be that the greenbelt and green space sites are more lucrative and it would appear developers are driving the agenda’.

‘’Through the BCP consultation, thousands of residents have made it known they are outraged that such sites were proposed in the first place. I hope the Council now listens and does the right thing and removes the rest of these valuable green sites from the BCP.

"Should my party regain control in May, we will do exactly this. Under Labour, no green space or green belt will be exposed to greedy property developers.

"As an opposition we set out our stall by proposing a fund of £1 million to fend off the threat from developers and to source more brownfield sites to protect the green belt and green spaces, but the Conservatives opposed it and so we do wonder what their real agenda is’’.

Dudley Council has confirmed that two sites initially included in the Black Country Plan in the Wall Heath and Kingswinford area known as the Holbeache and Triangle sites are expected to be excluded from the next version of the plan due to transport concerns.

Full transport modelling work is still ongoing in relation to all green belt sites included in the initial plan across the Black Country and is unlikely to be published before the summer. But early indications of the modelling baseline work in respect of the sites in Kingswinford, appear to confirm that the network is already saturated and that it is unlikely that there are viable, affordable and sustainable transport solutions available to overcome these concerns. Councillor Patrick Harley, leader of Dudley Council, said:

"I am not at all surprised that local transport intelligence is already supporting the view that thousands of campaigners have held that these sites are not at all suitable for development.

"A final conclusive decision can only be made once full transport modelling data is back with all Black Country authorities but I think most people who know these locations have been raising transport concerns as it’s quite obvious it would create serious issues.

"I fully expect recommendations to come before us in due course to formally remove the sites from the plan before the next stage of consultation gets underway.

"The overwhelming response from the public in relation to protecting the green belt simply cannot be ignored. Slowly but surely we are now starting to see earmarked sites drop from the plan and it will need a very compelling case to convince me and thousands of others that development on any of the green belt land identified can proceed.

"As further evidence and data comes to light, I would not be at all surprised if all borough green belt sites are removed over the coming months."


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