This summer has unfortunately had a sense of déjà vu about it as we face yet another attempt to build on our precious local greenbelt.
Back in 2015 I teamed up with local residents, community groups and councillors to fight plans which would have seen our beautiful green belt in Halesowen turned into an industrial site.
In 2017 a new attempt is being made through the Black Country Core Strategy Consultation. This will form a document for future land use in our area, to re-designate the land around Halesowen fit for housing and industrial use.
Over the summer I had meetings with local councillors and residents to talk about what we can do to ensure that the future of our greenbelt is protected for future generations, and encourage as many local people as possible to take part in the Council's consultation, which closes on the 8th September.
I want to make it perfectly clear that I will fight any proposals to build on our greenbelt with tooth and nail, and that we should be prioritising brownfield sites, of which there are still plenty across the whole of the Black Country.
The fight against building on our greenbelt isn’t some NIMBY attempt to preserve what we have, and push off housing development to another area. I think everyone would agree that there is an increasing demand for housing locally, and within the Black Country as a whole, and we have to build more houses to address this. However much of Halesowen’s greenbelt is culturally and historically important to our identity as a town, and not a suburb of Dudley or Birmingham.
There is also the strong argument that we have not maximised the use of brownfield sites, a short drive around the Black Country would highlight acres of building opportunities on previously industrial land which can be brought back into use.
Many local residents have already been very active in their campaigning to save our countryside, and I support their efforts wholeheartedly. This is an important part of the process, and an important part of Halesowen& Rowley Regis’ identity – we must all do what we can to stop any plans to build on our greenbelt.