Do not destroy Black Country green belt
West Midlands Regional Group of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) is calling on councillors to build new houses and offices in the city and not in the green belt.
The Association of Black Country Authorities (ABCA) is proposing to release land for nearly 27,000 homes in the green belt (in its own and other districts) as part of its joint plan which it may publish in the Autumn along with 560 hectares of industrial land although a delay to the plan has been muted.
CPRE commissioned an assessment of updated evidence produced by the councils in February and says that level of development in the countryside is not genuinely needed and suggests the following actions to mitigate the loss of countryside.
- Use the latest household projections from the Office for National Statistics which would give a more realistic level of housing need, reducing the figures by over 17,000.
- Use 2036 as the end date for the plan reducing the deficit in housing by 7,500.
- Review the real level of housing supply to allowance for more windfall sites, more housing in key centres and moderate increases in housing density. These could reduce the deficit by between 5,000 and 10,000 homes.
- Undertake a joint review of potential strategic employment land with adjoining authorities, including Shropshire and South Staffordshire, to avoid double-counting large sites such as the Four Ashes Proposals which recently got the go ahead.
If this approach was adopted, CPRE believes ABCA could drastically reduce the requirement for green belt development and concentrate on development where it is most needed to help the economy, environment and social cohesion of the Black Country.
CPRE says this should be primarily on brown field sites in urban areas where the need for homes and jobs is greatest and where development would limit the loss of countryside and increases in congestion, pollution and climate change emissions from extra traffic growth.
CPRE will formally respond to the plan when it is published but they are urging ABCA to review the evidence now and are supporting residents facing green belt development who are calling for a pause in the process until spring.