A LEADING developer has been drawing up plans to build up to around 200 new homes on green belt land on the edge of Kinver which is owned by village councillor Brian Edwards.

The stalwart Kinver parish and South Staffordshire Council leader, who runs the Basterfield Group Ltd construction company, has made an agreement with Bellway Homes - one of the country's leading home builders - according to Land Registry documents.

Bellway, a FTSE 250 major PLC, has already drawn up plans for the 8.5 Ha site off Hyde Lane - just down the road from a plot of former green belt land currently being developed by Elan Homes, which was previously owned by Kinver parish councillor/building firm owner Doug Hadlington.

Representations submitted in December 2019, on behalf of Bellway Homes, in response to the South Staffordshire Local Plan Review say the new Hyde Lane site proposed for development, which was put forward in the council’s previous call for sites exercise, "represents a deliverable residential opportunity for between 110 and 190 dwellings and public open space".

The document, submitted by planning consultants Turley, says the site's contribution to the green belt is 'moderate' and that development of the land will boost the supply of housing in Kinver.

It mentions how "capacity concerns at Moss Grove Surgery will be able to be addressed through developer contributions and/or the provision of a new surgery within the village" and adds: "Bellway intend to engage with the CCG to explore this matter further."

It also outlines how South Staffordshire’s proposed contribution of 4,000 homes will help to meet some of the Greater Birmingham shortfall and it goes on to say: "Bellway are committed to delivering a high quality, sustainable community providing a mixture of new homes set within a significant area of public open space with enhanced pedestrian linkages and wildlife habitats.

"Land at Hyde Lane is truly ‘deliverable’ and can assist in providing housing land supply early in the plan period.

"Bellway are promoting the site on behalf of the landowners and so the site is available now for development.

"Given Bellway’s substantial experience and resource in the delivery of high quality housing developments and promotion of sites through the development plan process, the site is achievable, with a realistic prospect of being brought forward for housing."

Green belt campaigners have expressed concern over the agreement between Mr Edwards' company and the developers and Mark Binnersley, a Green Party campaigner, said: "I think I would say it's worrying that people with vested interests in property development are so intertwined with the local plan decision-making process.

"There's no suggestion that Mr Edwards has done anything wrong but his business background reinforces the idea that ordinary people are locked out of the planning process and green belt development will happen whether they like it or not.

"We need much more community involvement and control over house building. People are feeling disempowered, anxious and increasingly angry about the way this is being handled."

Cllr Brian Edwards, leader of South Staffordshire Council - member for Kinver, said he was "not able to discuss any details of the plan" and he added: "Bellways have expressed an interest in putting forward land in my company’s ownership for the next Local Plan of the district council.

"This therefore gives me a prejudicial interest in the plan.

"I therefore have declared that interest with the South Staffordshire Council at the start of any deliberations and have not taken any part whatsoever in the member meetings discussing the future plan."

Cllr Edwards, aged 79, who was awarded the MBE in 2016 for his lifetime service to local government, was up until last year a regular on the district council's planning committee, and he also served on Staffordshire County Council for around 30 years.

A spokesman for South Staffordshire Council said of Bellway's interest in the land: "Planning agents acting on behalf of the landowners responded to a consultation South Staffordshire Council’s Local Plans Team carried out in 2019 as part of our Local Plan review.

"In addition to commenting on the wider consultation issues, the agent took the opportunity to promote this area of land and included details of how they saw the land being developed for employment use.

"We publish all the responses to the consultation online so the comments made are in the public domain. The representation has not been endorsed by the council, nor has it been given the go-ahead. It is not uncommon for developers with a site interest to produce promotional material and to make a strong case for development. This is all done at their own risk and does not imply or grant approval.

"Going forward, housing and employment sites will be considered as part of the Local Plan review, but we are not at a stage yet where locations for growth have been agreed, or sites decided. We will continue to engage with the Black County authorities under the legal Duty to Cooperate."

Land can be released from the Green Belt through the Local Plan review process and future housing and employment sites will be identified, after a rigorous site selection process, at the Preferred Options stage of consultation, which is scheduled for later this year.

Two additional stages of plan making will follow the Preferred Options stage and the district council will submit the final Local Plan to the Planning Inspectorate and it will be subject to formal examination by an independent inspector.

The Secretary of State can intervene - particularly if requested by Member of Parliament with a legitimate interest.