Open Letter to Andy Street and Nicola Richards

Former Mayor and local campaigners call on West Midland Mayor and local MP to urge property developer to withdraw their outrageous submission for a development on protected land off Wilderness Lane

Dear Mr Street and Ms Richards,

We welcome your recent call for Sandwell Council to prioritize use of brownfield sites for housing developments. A strategy we have long believed in. However, it does not address the problem of a property developer who has entered a planning submission (ID 10115), to develop on land protected by national legislation and also designated as a Site of Interest for Nature Conservation (SINC) by Sandwell Council. They would be able to appeal to the Secretary of State for Housing if Sandwell Council’s planning officers do not include it in the Draft Black Country Plan, as they have said is likely.

Local residents approached the local Liberal Democrat Focus Team in October when this developer ordered the horses that had been on the site be moved at the end of September. We contacted the Council’s Planning Department and confirmed that there had been no planning application submitted for this site. However, the property developer that owns the land has submitted plans via their agent, to build over 1,000 houses on this site in the Call for Sites of the Black Country Plan. This outrageous plan would be an act of vandalism and destroy this protected habitat, and is against Sandwell Council’s planning policy, which has designated this site as not suitable for housing.

The site is also of archaeological interest, and some of the residents have found that there are likely to be the foundations of a moated house on the site, and possibly other historical buildings. As part of the developer’s submission, they have included an archaeological report, and we have asked why Sandwell Council have not sought to add another layer of protection that this would provide as the developers report downplays the significance of some of these findings.

We therefore ask that you urge the developer to withdraw their outrageous submission. If they fail to do so, and they choose to appeal when their submission is rejected, we further call on you to demand that the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities, and Local Government, and his inspectors, to respect the protections this site enjoys.  Unfortunately, the developer seems likely to appeal against a decision by the Council not to include their submission in the Draft Black Country Plan, which is expected to be published in the middle of this year.

Yours faithfully,

Sadie Smith, former Mayor of Sandwell and local Councillor

Nigel Fearn, local campaigner

Bertram Richards, local campaigner

Daljit Kaur Nagra, local campaigner

Ian Garrett, former Councillor for Charlemont ward

Mark Smith, Chair of Sandwell Liberal Democrats


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