THE Black Country Plan – which will see more than 7,000 homes built across the area – has been lambasted for being overly complex, inaccessible to many and not properly promoted.

The consultation into the plan, which ended on October 11 and will see homes built on green belt sites across Wolverhampton, Dudley, Walsall, and Sandwell, has sparked a wave of protest.

Its publication has led to concerned residents across the region forming campaign groups in a bid to protect local green belt sites.

In response to the Black Country Plan by Dudley Labour group, Cllr Qadar Zada (Labs, Netherton, Woodside and St Andrew’s) and leader of the opposition, said: “We do not support any development  of any green spaces or green belt in this borough as there are many  options that the council has, which we consider it is deliberately not exploring.”

He says residents consider their green space as ‘too precious’ to be destroyed, with wildlife and leisure important to them. 

He said: “Once a blade of grass is gone, it is gone forever. 

“We also believe that we should accept when Dudley is full, rather than find ways to add additional burden on local residents, infrastructure and services. 

“The council must lead the way by exploring pieces of waste land which exist in the borough […] we understand there are around 1,000 long term empty properties in the borough which could point the way to a solution  that would prevent green belt or green spaces being developed.”

In response to the consultation, Suzanne Webb MP, Stourbridge, added her opposition to the proposed building of 90 homes at Wollaston Farm and 115 homes on land adjacent to Worcester Lane.

She added that residents had been almost universally negative about the plans when she had spoken to them.

The MP told the consultation that Dudley council needs to operate a brownfield first policy on development and quoted the prime minister Boris Johnson who recently said: “[we should be] building beautiful homes on brownfield land in places that make sense”.

She said: “I believe that the region should adopt a brownfield first policy so these unnecessary proposals can be stopped.

“I have always believed very strongly in building on brownfield sites before any green belt site can be considered. It is my belief that there is more work to be done to identify brownfield sites in the Dudley borough. In this way, the homes earmarked for the sites could be built elsewhere, preserving precious green belt for residents.

“In my view, extra resources deployed to identifying and analysing brownfield sites would considerably outweigh the damage that could be done to green belt land. Evidence has also shown that building on these sites is often quicker than building on green belt sites.”

Suzanne said the two greenbelt areas identified in the draft plan were much-loved and needed green spaces that made a difference to residents’ lives.

“The Wollaston site is a green oasis in an otherwise built-up area. To build here would be to remove access to rare green space in a heavily residential area,” she said.

“In Pedmore, the sites enhance the character of the area. People value the green space dividing Hagley and Pedmore, and many move to the area for its benefits. Similarly, visitors to the area are attracted from nearby Birmingham and Wolverhampton to enjoy the more rural surroundings.”