CAMPAIGNERS hoping to preserve Amblecote's last piece of untouched green space have issued a plea to Dudley's hospital bosses to keep Corbett Meadow for the benefit of wildlife and future generations.

The Save The Corbett Meadow Action Group has delivered around 5,000 leaflets through letterboxes to urge residents to write to the council to ensure the wildlife haven remains undeveloped.

Campaigners have urged people to take part in a public consultation on the draft Black Country Plan, which runs until Monday October 11, to help keep the meadow safe from developers.

The site, tucked away behind Corbett Outpatients Centre off Vicarage Road, has long been used for grazing and has been tended by local hobbyist farmers for around 40 years.

Developers have been eyeing up the parcel of ancient meadowland for the last few years and although Countryside Properties withdrew its interest in the site - the Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust, which owns the land, has admitted it has been working with another developer regarding the possibility of selling off the asset for new homes.

The draft Black Country Plan includes a proposal to give the site the same protection as green belt.

However, the Save The Corbett Meadow Action Group has urged the public not to rest on their laurels and be sure to show their support for the proposed Local Green Space designation in the plan to help prevent future development threats to the 14-acre site which is a haven for birds, owls, bats, amphibians, small mammals, foxes, badgers and insects.

The group has also issued an impassioned plea, calling for the meadow to be left alone, to the Dudley Group which inherited the land which was formerly part of the Hill estate - gifted to the people of Stourbridge by wealthy businessman John Corbett for the creation of the Corbett Hospital (which was replaced in 2007 by Corbett Outpatients Centre).

Health chiefs, however, have not been for turning and have said they have a duty to "dispose of surplus assets" to boost the coffers of the cash-strapped NHS.

Diane Wake, the Dudley Group's chief executive, said: "In light of financial challenges that face the NHS and the Trust, we have a duty to make the best use of our resources and public money. NHS guidance sets out our requirements to dispose of surplus assets.

"Money from the sale of the parcel of land at the rear of the Corbett Outpatient Centre would be reinvested directly back into patient care for the people of Dudley and surrounding areas. The money would be spent on crucial medical equipment to support the local communities’ healthcare."

Helen Cook, of Amblecote History Society, however, said: "The Dudley Group have already profiteered by selling the major part of the estate to a developer.

"We feel the Dudley Group should at least morally let something remain permanent that John Corbett gave to the people of Stourbridge, after all the Dudley Group didn't pay a penny for it.

"They have stated funds from the sale of the meadow will be supplying frontline equipment, how long will that last?

"The health and environmental benefits would be long-term if Corbett Meadow and its wildlife remained as a much-needed green space in this part of Amblecote."

Action group spokesman Lance Cartwright said: "Surely the example set by philanthropist John Corbett, in making the gift of the meadow to the people of Stourbridge to safeguard the well-being of the community, should not be ignored but upheld by modern society?"

Meanwhile, a public meeting regarding the threat to Stourbridge green belt sites posed by proposals in the Black Country Plan will be held on Thursday October 7 at 7pm at Stourbridge Town Hall.

Council officers and elected officials will be in attendance to answer questions about the plan, which proposes new homes for green field sites in Wollaston and Pedmore, and campaign groups will be on hand to help people complete comment forms ahead of Monday's consultation deadline.

An informative 'Performance for our greenbelt' event featuring live music and poetry will also take place on Friday October 8, from 7pm to 8.30pm at the Christian Community centre at 22 Baylie Street, Stourbridge.