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Keep the Black Country’s Green Belt Green!

4th August 2022

Latest figures have forced CPRE Staffordshire to question why the Association of Black Country Authorities (ABCA) is continuing to demand that neighbouring councils – including those in Staffordshire – take more precious land out of the Green Belt for Black Country overspill, when the latest evidence shows there are fewer households in the Black Country, and more brownfield land to build on, than previously thought.

The recent 2021 census results show that there were 9,000 fewer households in the Black Country than the figures the councils are using for their new Black Country Plan. Projections suggest this could rise to 15,000 fewer households over the length of the plan – and that excludes the arbitrary 35% extra homes (5,000) added to Wolverhampton’s need by Government just to meet its politically driven national housing target.

At the same time, a study commissioned by the West Midlands Combined Authority, which examined old industrial land and town centres, has concluded there is significantly more brownfield land available than previously thought. CPRE estimates this could be enough to supply between 5,000 and 12,000 homes.

This would be consistent with the experience in Birmingham, where a Plan was completed in 2017. Between 2017 and 2020 however, additional supply increased by 27% (almost 14,000 homes).

If this is the case the Black Country’s claim of a shortfall of 28,000 homes to 2039 could be wildly exaggerated. The current proposed building spree would therefore lead to totally unnecessary Green Belt loss around the Black Country and beyond, increased traffic, adding to carbon emissions and destroying valuable wildlife and landscape areas.

The proposed building spree would not eve lead to houses being built where they are most needed.

Peter King of West Midlands CPRE said, ‘We understand that Councils need to build new housing to support local people, but the evidence shows they can build those homes and keep the countryside. We know that they are constrained by Government’s politically driven and out-of-date housing estimates. With this new evidence, councils can show the exceptional circumstances needed for Green Belt release simply do not exist.’

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