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Give locals more of a say over green belt, pleads MP

By Richard Guttridge | Dudley | Environment | Published:

An MP has taken the fight to protect the green belt to Parliament as he insisted local people must be given more of a say on where homes are built.

Mike Wood says politicians must not let the country down over Brexit

Mike Wood, MP for Dudley South, has called for a parliamentary debate on threats to the green belt around Wordsley, Kingswinford and Wall Heath.

In a question to the Leader of the House of Commons, Jacob Rees-Mogg, Mr Wood stressed the need for communities affected in Dudley South to have their views properly considered if proposals are brought forward to build housing at Ridgehill Woods, Lawnswood and other nearby land on the border of South Staffordshire.​

Speaking in Parliament, he claims housing developments would cause harm to the environment and increase pressures on local infrastructure, schools and doctor surgeries in the area. ​

The Conservative MP called for a plan which ​puts communities affected by proposed developments at the centre of the planning application process, and gives them a formal role in it.

Mayor Andy Street, right, has vowed to protect the green belt

He also threw his weight behind West Midlands Mayor Andy Street's Green Belt Pledge, which assumes all new housing up to 2031 can be built on previously developed brownfield sites.

Several major developments have been proposed for the region, including on 240 acres of green belt at Seven Cornfields between Wolverhampton and Dudley.

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Others include plans for 628 homes near Sedgley and Lower Gornal, 800 homes on the Lawnswood House Estate, Wordsley, and 400 homes on Client View Road, Norton. More than 70,000 new homes are needed over the next two decades.​​

Mr Wood said: ​“Despite these proposed major developments being at an early stage and sitting outside Dudley South, they will impact our communities and local services in a major way whether it’s increased burdens on our schools and GP surgeries, or congestion on our roads. We must treasure our green belt and I will do everything in my power to protect it.”

Government minister Stuart Andrew vowed to raise Mr Wood's concerns and said: "He was absolutely right about the need for us to look at cross-constituency and boundary issues, and at the impacts that planning applications may have on one area when something is built in another.

"He asked three specific questions about the consideration of residents’ views, mitigation and the combined authority fund, and I will certainly make sure that I raise those points clearly."​

Mayor Andy Street said: “I stand shoulder to shoulder with Mike Wood in the defence of the green belt and green fields around Dudley.

"We are both determined to work with Dudley Council to ensure that we are able to deliver a brownfield first approach to housing – so we regenerate derelict sites and ease the pressure on our green fields. I will continue to work with Mike on this important issue.”

Richard Guttridge

By Richard Guttridge
Investigations Editor - @RichG_star

Investigations Editor for the Express & Star.

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