THE Norton residence of Stourbridge stalwart Eric Moody could be demolished to make way for 14 houses.

Mr Moody, a well-known businessman, whose empire included the County Express newspaper and Mark & Moody stationary store, died last year, aged 99, leaving his home to Oriel College in Oxford.

The 2.6 acre plot in Whittington Road is being sold through Manchester agent Gerald Eve.

The company's planning and development surveyor, Bruce Jones, said discussions regarding the sale were ongoing, subject to the outcome of the planning application submitted by Stourbridge based developers, Kendrick Homes.

The application seeks permission from Dudley planning bosses to knock down the converted barn to create 14 four and five bedroom detached properties and garages.

The majority of trees in the extensive gardens are protected by a tree preservation order and will be retained if the development is given the go-ahead.

However the proposal hasn't been greeted with enthusiasm by close neighbours, who have written numerous letters of objection to the council.

Lambert and Elaine Simms, of Eveson Road, said: "The application is on a site that we were told was a protected area and could not be built on. This is one of the reasons we bought our property five years ago. New properties on this site will spoil the look of the area."

While Robert and Betty Coldrick, of Harringay Drive, added: "We will have at least three large houses overlooking our bungalow and rear garden which will completely spoil our outlook and compromise our privacy. We feel very strongly that these are the wrong type of properties to be surrounding bungalows."

A design and access statement submitted to the council by the developer states: "Particular attention has been paid to the new layout of the site and particularly the impact on adjoining neighbours and space separation.

“The proposed layout and the position of the individual dwellings have been considered carefully, ensuring spacious garden to garden relationships with the adjacent dwellings.

"The design of the site and the proposed dwellings are such that the proposals provide bespoke house types that satisfactorily address the character of the area."

Norton councillor, Heather Rogers, said she thought that development on the site was "inevitable" but said there were several issues she thinks would need to be addressed before approval is granted, including the height of the proposed homes.

She said: "The proposed houses have a high elevation, higher than normal and looking at the plan, I would imagine there have been some objections because of that.

"In this area, there aren't many places like this that development can be built, it is a good site and providing the issues can be sorted out, I can't see any reason why it shouldn't be there."

A decision on the application is expected to be made in May.