Second Black Country council backs plan for thousands of homes on Shropshire green belt

It has emerged that a second Black Country council has written to Shropshire Council to complain about its refusal to build thousands of homes on green belt land in the county.

An aerial view of Tong as it looks today
An aerial view of Tong as it looks today

Walsall Council has followed Dudley in submitting an objection to Shropshire Council's local plan – on the grounds it does not do enough to help the Black Country councils deal with their lack of land for housing development.

Shropshire Council's local plan is currently going through the lengthy process of being officially approved.

When complete it will set out where 30,800 houses and 300 hectares of employment land will be developed in towns and villages across Shropshire up until 2038.

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The process has proved controversial, with developments for Shifnal and Bridgnorth meeting with considerable local opposition but remaining with proposals.

But, one of the most contentious proposals, a plan from Viscount Newport and the Bradford Estates for 3,000 homes and a major business site on land near Tong and north of Junction 3 of the M54, was rejected by Shropshire Council.

But both Dudley, and now Walsall Council, which are members of the Association of Black Country Authorities (ABCA), have called for the proposal to go ahead.

Councillor Mike Bird, leader of Walsall Council has followed his Dudley counterpart Councillor Patrick Harley, in writing to Shropshire Council to urge it to reconsider.

He said that the Shropshire plan should come up with 4,500 homes to make up for the shortfall in available land in the Black Country.

Shropshire has already agreed to provide 1,500 homes towards the Black Country shortfall.

In his letter, which is the same as that submitted by Councillor Harley, Councillor Bird calls for the Bradford Estates plan to go ahead.

A previous artist's impression of how the Bradford Estates development could look

He said: "The potential for employment, and housing, development in the area north of Junction 3 was strongly supported by ABCA in its September 2019 response to Shropshire’s consultation on Strategic Sites.

"We remain in support of this proposal and take the view the Shropshire Local Plan should support a strategic settlement which would also help to meet the housing needs of the Black Country."

He adds: "We request that the Shropshire Local Plan should increase its housing requirement by 3,000 to incorporate up to 4,500 dwellings to support the housing needs of the emerging Black Country Plan.

"Some 1,500 of this could be met by the proposed housing allocations in the plan around Shifnal and Bridgnorth, with the addition of up to 3,000 dwellings to be met at land to the north of Junction 3 of the M54."

Shropshire Council's leader Peter Nutting had expressed disappointment at the letter from Dudley Council last week.

Speaking at the time he said: "I am disappointed by this objection and don’t think Shropshire should be expected to find space for the extra housing required by the urban area around Birmingham.

“Shropshire is already helping by allowing the use of some of our numbers to ease pressure in the Black Country and I would resist any further changes.

“It will be for a government inspector to decide on the matter at a public enquiry next year.”

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