Black Country councils plan green belt review

A 'detailed green belt review' will be carried out as part of a review of a joint West Midlands core strategy, it has been announced.

Birmingham: neighbouring authorities to review green belt
Birmingham: neighbouring authorities to review green belt

The Black Country Core Strategy covers the areas of Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council (MBC), Sandwell MBC, Walsall Council and the City of Wolverhampton Council.

The four authorities worked together to produce the existing strategy, which was adopted in 2011 and covers the period 2006-2026.

According to an issues and options report on the review, the councils want to look again at the core strategy to "meet the new challenges and opportunities for the coming years, up to 2036".

The report says that the "extended time period is a main driver for the review and is at the heart of the most contentious issues the Black Country is facing – both population and economy are set to continue to grow and there is a need to identify additional sites which will ‘stretch’ the existing strategy".

The document says that there have been a number of changes to national policy "and a housing shortfall has been identified in Birmingham which neighbouring authorities have a duty to consider accommodating".

This refers to Birmingham City Council’s development plan being found sound despite identifying a shortfall of 38,000 homes.

The report says that a Greater Birmingham and Black Country Strategic Housing Needs Study was completed in 2015 to assess the housing need for the wider housing market area (HMA) and consider scenarios for distributing the housing shortfall.

"The study concluded that the supply of brownfield land across the HMA is insufficient to accommodate this shortfall, and that the majority of that shortfall will have to be met on greenfield sites, including green belt land outside Birmingham’s administrative area," the document says.

As such, the report says, a "large number of new homes and supporting services will need to be accommodated outside the existing urban area of the Black Country".

It adds that "all such land in the Black Country is currently green belt".

The document says that the Greater Birmingham and Black Country HMA authorities "are working together and have commissioned a Strategic Growth Study to identify the need and locations for additional housing growth across the West Midlands conurbation and neighbouring areas".

It says that, once this has been concluded "which is likely to be September 2017, the findings will inform and provide the basis for a more detailed green belt review for the Black Country as part of the Core Strategy Review".

The report will be considered by the councils at meetings later this month. If approved, a consultation will run for ten weeks from 3 July to 8 September 2017. More details can be found here.

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