'Pipe down': Shifnal residents hit back at Black Country councils pushing to develop Shropshire's green belt

Black Country authorities pushing for thousands of homes to be built on Shropshire’s green belt have been told to focus on their own brownfield sites first.

Rachel Roland
Rachel Roland

Walsall and Dudley councils have objected to Shropshire Council’s local plan on the grounds that it does not provide enough land to make up for their shortfall of housing and industrial sites.

Members of the Association of Black Country Authorities (ABCA), the two councils have called for a development of at least 3,000 homes and a major business site on land near Tong and north of Junction 3 of the M54 to go ahead.

But residents in nearby Shifnal, which is already the focus of substantial development in Shropshire Council’s local plan – which sets out where housing can be built until 2038 – have said the suggestions are “dishonourable” and a “disgrace”.

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Rachel Roland, who has lived in Shifnal for 25 years, said brownfield sites in the Black Country should be used first.

The 55-year-old said: “Shifnal is doubling in size but the infrastructure certainly hasn’t doubled.

“Where is the evidence from the Black Country that they don’t have the brownfield sites to use?

“I thought it was policy to use brownfield sites first – I feel the whole thing is ill-conceived and done to make a fast buck for certain people.

“The Black Country councils should pipe down. It’s a bit dishonourable of them to be lending this strong hand when the majority of us that live here don’t have the opportunity to speak out.”

Bob Haddon grew up in Willenhall before moving to Shifnal in 1993.

Black Country lad Bob Haddon says massive industrial sites are the answer

The 69-year-old, of Brookland Avenue, said: “If these houses went ahead they would have a tremendous impact.

“I’m a Black Country lad and I know the massive industrial sites that lay barren now.

“It costs million of pounds to develop these brownfield sites and developers just don’t want that – but it doesn’t make it morally right.

“They have the land and the Government should help councils like them to develop those sites, not neglect them.”

Linda Fisher, 66, lives in Tong and said she would move if the Junction 3 development went ahead.

‘Disgrace’ – Dudley-born Linda Fisher

“I was born in Dudley and spent the first 27 years of my life in the surrounding areas,” she said.

“It’s a disgrace that they’re allowed to shove their problems onto neighbouring counties.

“They should be forced to develop their brownfield sites first – this area can’t take anymore.”

Bob Raffe, 72, of Shifnal, said: “These points should have been raised by the Black Country councils in the last part of the local plan process – I believe they’ve missed their chance.

Shifnal resident Bob Raffe

“I think it would be very sad if this kind of development was pushed through, but to be fair to Shropshire Council, they have said that Shifnal’s had its fair whack in the last year or two and there just has to be a pause in development.

“Continuous building will destroy Shifnal. We haven’t got the roads, the doctors or the schools – we’re struggling as it is.”

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