Black Country review could release green belt for nearly 25,000 homes

A requirement to build nearly 25,000 homes in the Black Country's green belt to accommodate unmet housing needs in the sub-region is identified in an early-stage consultation on a review of the area's joint core strategy.

Wolverhampton: one of four Black Country authorities (picture: Steph Clarke, Flickr)
Wolverhampton: one of four Black Country authorities (picture: Steph Clarke, Flickr)

The four Black Country authorities - Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall and Wolverhampton - this week launched an issues and options consultation, the first stage of the formal review of the Black Country Core Strategy. The consultation runs until 8 September 2017.

The document says that the existing core strategy, adopted in 2011, concluded that all development needs to 2026 could be met within the existing urban area and that therefore a green belt review was not required.

But the document adds that newer evidence suggests that, for the period to be covered by the core strategy review, "there will be a significant housing need within the Black Country and the wider housing market area, and a need for employment land, which will require the identification of new sites on land outside the urban area that is not currently proposed for development".

"Within the four Black Country authorities and immediate neighbours nearly all such land is currently green belt and the review of the core strategy will therefore need to explore and identify the potential to accommodate such growth in these areas," it says.

According to the document, the total objectively assessed housing need for the Black Country over the period 2014-36 is 78,190 homes.

The authorities have also agreed to test the accommodation of an extra 3,000 homes up to 2031 to address a shortfall in the wider housing market area. Birmingham City Council’s local plan, adopted earlier this year, includes a shortfall of 38,000 homes which cannot be accommodated within the city’s boundaries.

The issues and options document estimates that existing housing supply in the Black Country's urban areas, as well as completions between 2014-16 could deliver 48,185 homes, while identified sites and "windfall" sites have the potential to deliver around 8,335 homes during 2026-36.

This would leave a gap of 24,670 homes, which would be provided through the release of green belt land for housing under one of two proposed strategic options, the document suggests. However, it adds that this could be reduced to 14,270 homes if further occupied employment land is released for housing under a second strategic option (see infographic, below).

The document adds that if, when the two options have been fully explored, total housing need still cannot be met within the Black Country, its four authorities would need to work with their neighbours to "export" the shortfall.

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