CAMPAIGNERS fighting to save Amblecote’s last remaining parcel of ancient meadowland have welcomed a council decision to afford the site greater protection from developers.

Following a detailed nature conservation habitat survey carried out by the Birmingham and Black Country Wildlife Trust, Corbett Meadow is to be designated as a Site of Importance for Nature Conservation (SINC) in recognition of its significant ecological value.

The designation, which was approved by Dudley Council’s cabinet on October 27, is an upgrade from its previous status as a Site of Local Importance for Nature Conservation (SLINC) and acknowledges its importance in supporting a variety of wildlife and habitats.

It means the site, to the rear of Corbett Outpatients Centre in Vicarage Road, will be afforded greater protection by local planning policies, which could give it increased protection from development.

Simon Atkinson, head of conservation at Birmingham and Black Country Wildlife Trust which recommended the redesignation, said the trust was “delighted” at the news and he added: “This landmark site is the only substantial area of remnant historic countryside in what is an otherwise urban area, with historic sources suggesting the site has been grazed pasture with mature trees since at least the 18th century.

“The Wildlife Trust’s survey, along with information provided by local volunteer recorders, showed the site to be of high value to a wide range of wildlife and it’s our position that all such places should be protected by the planning system.

“Sites such as Corbett Meadow are not only important to wildlife but also provide significant benefits for people, and it’s clear that many local residents feel just as passionately as we do about the value of this and other local green spaces.”

Amblecote resident Helen Cook said: “This part of the borough is lacking in natural open green space, and the awarded higher designation as a Site of Interest for Nature Conservation (SINC) is so worthy, as all of the varied habitats within the meadow are now becoming scarcer countrywide.”

She said she hoped the site’s new status would deter developers Charles Church from continuing with their planning application to build 84 new homes on the site, which is owned by the Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust.

The housebuilder (part of the Persimmon Group) has plans lodged with Dudley Council to develop the site, but a date has not yet been set for the application to go before the authority’s planning committee.

Helen, a member of the Corbett Meadow Action Group which has been campaigning for the preservation of the site, said: “In the light of this decision we hope Charles Church/Persimmon Homes will now reconsider their plans to continue to pursue permission to develop the site and the Dudley Group of hospitals considers other possibilities that can be offered without having to destroy a beautiful, valuable green space and its flora and fauna.”

Lance Cartwright, spokesperson for the action group which has outlined an alternative proposal to use the site for an eco-friendly wellbeing centre, said the designation was “significant good news for the campaign”.

Although it cannot guarantee the meadow will be saved from development, he said: “We are most grateful for the council's solid support in making this important decision which affords more protection to the meadow and the wildlife that live and travel through it.”