ONE hundred and fifty people packed into an Amblecote church to hear how plans to create an eco-friendly wellbeing centre could help reduce the strain on the NHS and cut rising cases of obesity and serious diseases.

The Corbett Meadow Action Group hosted a meeting at Holy Trinity Church on Wednesday July 13 to gauge public support for a plan put forward by Stourbridge Community Development Trust to use the meadow to benefit public health – as benefactor John Corbett intended when he gifted it to the people of Stourbridge on his death.

Stourbridge News: Corbett Meadow which is currently used for grazingCorbett Meadow which is currently used for grazing

The action group and the trust have proposed the possibility of a health and wellbeing centre on the land, which is currently used for grazing cattle, that would help people to get outside to improve their mental health – a plan they say would result in savings for the NHS.

The Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust, which owns the meadowland behind Corbett Outpatients Centre, has said it has a duty dispose of any surplus assets and realise best value so the trust has been working with developer Charles Church, part of Persimmon, on a plan that would see 90 new homes built and part of the site turned into a public park.

Stourbridge News: The proposed Amblecote Grange development. Pic - Charles ChurchThe proposed Amblecote Grange development. Pic - Charles Church

Ruth Tapparo, a GP at the Three Villages Medical Practice, Amblecote, told the meeting the estimated £5-6million the NHS could realise from selling the site would be a “drop in the ocean for the NHS” but building on the last parcel of untouched land in Amblecote would affect the community “forever”.

She told the meeting the number of patients in the community at risk of diabetes has more than doubled in four years and she described the situation, exacerbated by inactivity and sugar intake, as a “time bomb” and said demand for GP appointments has far exceeded predictions.

She spoke of the health benefits that could be gained for individuals, which could reduce pressure on the NHS, by offering people chance to get active in nature and she said: “I would like to see this land being used for longer, healthier lives. If we get this right - we should be able to reduce diabetes and cancer cases.”

Stourbridge News: How the proposed wellbeing centre could sit within the meadowHow the proposed wellbeing centre could sit within the meadow

Eddy Morton, of Stourbridge Community Development Trust, outlined how he believes development of the site would result in huge costs to society with the extra strain on health and council services and he urged Dudley Group chief executive Diane Wake to have a “sensible discussion” about how preserving the meadow could achieve savings for the NHS and stay true to John Corbett’s wish.

Liberal Democrat campaigner David Sheppard said he was “appalled” by the plan to build on the site and he said: “The land was gifted by a liberal industrialist. The land belongs to Stourbridge people.”

Vicarage Road resident David Skidmore said additional homes would cause traffic chaos and he added: “That road is not capable of taking any more traffic.”

Labour campaigner Ellen Cobb said: “It would be such a loss to the community if we lose a wildlife space like this. This is just a really special place.”

Stourbridge News: Corbett Meadow has never been built on and is the last parcel of old Amblecote that remains Corbett Meadow has never been built on and is the last parcel of old Amblecote that remains

Lance Cartwright, of Corbett Meadow Action Group, admitted the group has a “big battle” ahead but he said: “David and Goliath had a battle once, so you never know.”

He urged people to donate towards a fighting fund which people can find details of via the action group’s Facebook page.

A ‘Concert for Corbett Meadow’ is also taking place at Katie Fitzgerald’s Secret Garden, Enville Street, on Saturday July 16.

Stourbridge News: Eddy MortonEddy Morton

The event will feature Kim Lowings and The Greenwood, singer-songwriter and owner of Katie's Eddy Morton, Andy Jones and Black Country poet, author and radio presenter Billy Spakemon.